[linux-elitists] Lisa Bowman on DVD, DMCA, Linux

Seth David Schoen schoen@loyalty.org
Mon Feb 28 22:13:54 PST 2000

Heather writes:

> > Attention Linux elitists:
> > 
> > More DVD news:
> > http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2449300-1,00.html
> Thanks, Don.
> You know, it would probably be kinda fun to do up the arguments in 
> a small, digestible-to-the-press "Facts and Myths" layout.  Note use
> of (of DVD) to distinguish from DeCSS for web page de-cruftification.
> Btw, I am interested in seeing ReCSS which might regraft detached CSS
> into a web page properly?
> Anyways, welcome to add and/or shred this stuff, or even post it freely:
> The DeCSS (of DVD) program described in the suit aids copying (thus piracy).
> 	It isn't even -about- copying whole DVDs.  To do that never needed
> 	a program... just hardware usable for other purposes, and blanks that
> 	(in the US) are more expensive than store bought legit copies. 
> 	It allows -viewing- of DVDs, whether legal or not.  More devices 
> 	able to view DVDs should yield -more- potential users, whether
> 	legal or not.
> 	If it allows copying of parts (unclear) not all copying is piracy
> 	(see copyright, below).  However, for that, there are already laws 
> 	against piracy; use them against specific pirates.
> The DeCSS (of DVD) program violates copyright.

How about

"The DeCSS program violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (now
17 USC 1201)'s prohibition on the manufacture or distribution of
circumvention devices intended to circumvent an access control system
like CSS"?

I can tell you that _that's_ the one that the people on the Berkman
Center's dvd-discuss list are afraid of.  Nobody (MPAA press releases
confusingly to the contrary) has been accused of copyright infringment,
nor patent infringement.

The DMCA is new, counterintuitive, and scary.

> 	It -enforces- copyright, specifically, the abilty to view the
> 	item you purchased (without which you may as well not HAVE 
> 	the copy, even though it is legal) and -may- enforce subsections 
> 	on Fair Use which allow excerpts to be used for specific, protected 
> 	purposes (such as the press quoting it in a movie review, or a 
> 	teacher showing a fragment to students to illustrate a point, or 
> 	even making 30 copies of that portion, to send home with the 
> 	students as a homework assignment).
> 	Some possible uses may not be protected Fair Use purposes.  There 
> 	are already laws against piracy; use them against specific pirates.

Now, with the DMCA, there are laws against the ability to use a copyrighted
work in a way that the copyright owner doesn't approve of and tried to use
a technological measure to prevent.  (There are also laws against using
that ability -- but obtaining that ability, for yourself or for someone else,
is a separate infringement.)

A few possible solutions:

- Help get the DMCA overturned (maybe possible) or repealed (very unlikely)
- Move to a non-WIPO country (inconvenient)
- Become an anarchist (easy and inexpensive!)
- Protest in front of movie theaters (very gratifying)

Seth David Schoen <schoen@loyalty.org>  | And do not say, I will study when I
Temp.  http://www.loyalty.org/~schoen/  | have leisure; for perhaps you will
down:  http://www.loyalty.org/   (CAF)  | not have leisure.  -- Pirke Avot 2:5

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