View Full Version : Backing Up DVDs May Soon Be Illegal

17th May 2003, 23:26
The court battle 321 Studios is in doesn't look good for them. The MPAA is saying even making your own personal backups of DVDs you own is unacceptable. If it's breaking encryption, it's breaking the law, is what their stance is. Link 1 (http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=9529) and Link 2 (http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=9509).

What I wonder is if it is decided in favor of the MPAA, will great sites like this continue to provide support and information on backing up DVDs? What wiil people do if it's decided your breaking the law for making backups of something you own??

Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself here but it pisses me off that big business could now be starting to write the laws of the land. It's not going to stop people from doing it, it just burns me that they are going to make illegal something that should be fair use.

18th May 2003, 00:08
One article I read said that the software does NOT break the encryption, but rather captures the data stream of a DVD player has legally decrypted the DVD. Thus, there's no explicit violation of the DMCA.

When the courts used Fair Use to allow VCRs (in spite of the movie industry that didn't want anyone to buy videos), VCRs violated no law but were merely accused of being a tool that might be used to break the law. Because you can legally use a VCR to time-shift a TV show, VCRs have enough legal use to be legal.

There has never been a law againt using a VCR to time-shift TV shows.

The DMCA is a different issue. For the court to allow Fair Use would mean for the court to reject the explicit law of the DMCA.

There is no legal use of software such as SmartRipper.

18th May 2003, 01:59
There is no legal use of software such as SmartRipper Hehe... thanks to manufacturing errors there actually is. I have in my posession two DVDs (OK, one, the other one belongs to my roommate) that you cannot watch on your standalone DVD player or pc based software DVD player. The disc changes CSS keys at some point. In one case, the CSS key on the disc is actually simply wrong.. only brute force cracking will yield the correct key and of course no player can do that. To watch those two discs you are forced to rip them. I even had the disc I own exchanged and got back another copy with the same error. The CSS key change on layer change will lead to garbled playback on many players. And when you have a disc where the stored CSS key is simply wrong there's no way you'll ever get to play it unless you descramble it. And I know of a couple more discs that also cannot be played on standalones and require decryption in order to be properly played. You can turn it any way you want, but there are discs that can only be watched when you rip them.

Now, as for CSS descrambling being legal or not, we have the 2600 case (I'm not sure if a 2nd appeal has been made) but as things stand right now CSS descrambling is effectively illegal in the US and I'm sure the court will consider that previous decision. However, that hasn't stopped DeCSS or its successors from spreading wide. And once the data is decrypted the DCMA no longer applies (but copyright law still does).

18th May 2003, 03:49
Originally posted by Doom9
[BNow, as for CSS descrambling being legal or not, we have the 2600 case (I'm not sure if a 2nd appeal has been made) but as things stand right now CSS descrambling is effectively illegal in the US and I'm sure the court will consider that previous decision. However, that hasn't stopped DeCSS or its successors from spreading wide. And once the data is decrypted the DCMA no longer applies (but copyright law still does). [/B]

Something no-one ever seems to mention is that simply using encyption does not automatically imbue any encrypted material with instant illegal-to-backup status - (alleged) copyright infringement and decryption are two different things, and should be argued as such. I am not denying the rights the MPAA have to protect their copyrighted property - I'm simply arguing, like everyone else, for the right to 'Fair Use' backups , should the worst happen. I have a DVD burner that can knock out a full DVD+R in under 15minutes, yet I still regularly buy new DVDs from Play.com etc. I'm not ripping anybody off. If I spend $2,000 on DVDs (more than most people will spend in their lifetime, but nothing for an enthusiast, over the course of a few years - I already have several hundred CDs, although I am no rich man), then surely I should have the right to protect my investment just as much as the MPAA wish to protect theirs?

The MPAA are clearly absolutely desperate to pursue alternative angles, where they have failed previously. I get so angry when I see this arguement that it is categorically illegal to decrypt. Let's just say, hypothetically, that I wasn't bothered about menus or navigation, and went down the (admittedly technically inferior) route of using screencapture software clever enough to cope with the video overlay used during playback of DVD video on a PC. In such an instance, I'd be using perfectly legal 'decryption' of the video stream, using, say PowerDVD or WinDVD, for example. Do you think the MPAA would leave me alone? No, they'd then find some other angle to prevent me from making a legitimate backup copy of the material I have 'licensed' from them for my viewing pleasure.

I'd really like to see the MPAA offer every customer of every MPAA DVD disk, throughtout the corners of the globe, the right to a replacement disk, free of charge, should I accidentally crack or irreparably scratch one of my disks. I've paid for the right to view that material for the rest of my life, and damaging my disk does not mean that my life has ended, or that I have ceased to hold a valid 'viewing license' for said material.

The MPAA would change their tune VERY quickly if the courts said "ok, we'll totally outlaw home-made backups, but in return you, the MPAA, must undertake to replace all damaged disks brought to you by your customers". The public would have a field day, taking all their damaged disks back and making the MPAA whince with the material cost of it all.

The MPAA can't have it both ways - it's just bully-boy big-corporation tactics.

I wonder if they keep backup copies of their master tapes? I rather suspect they do!

What I find most interesting is the fact that in the last 12months or so, Steinberg (now owned by Pinnacle, of course) have released a product which does everything to assist in the making of backup copies, save for decrypting them. Is this, perhaps, why the MPAA have taken their current line of attack? Perhaps they only like to bully the small-fry companies, such as 321.

On a final note, one other point which really pi$$e$ me off, is that these big U.S. corporations also arrogantly assume that once they get a U.S. court ruling in their favour, they can then apply it, with bully tactics, to the rest of the world. Arrogant just doesn't do them justice!

Arky ;o)

18th May 2003, 07:46
It wouldn't surprise me if they started applying those bully tactics (if they won) to web sites and message boards who discussed and demonstrated through guides how to decrypt DVDs. I think it's only a matter of time before they start something like that.

18th May 2003, 12:13
@Hambone: you are apparently not up to previous events... the MPAA has been sending out C&D letters to hundreds of sites, having most of them shut down instantly even before having the first victory in court.
Also, I do not like when people are spreading panic.. there's really no need to, and in fact by doing so you're just giving the MPAA a reason to act. It's like with people being scared by dogs (me being one of those people).. if you let the dog feel you're afraid he's coming right at you, if you look him defiantly in the eyes he will leave you alone.

18th May 2003, 15:33
Sorry, didn't mean to spread panic. I was just venting. I wasn't aware of the C&D orders.

18th May 2003, 17:49
I'm not so sure the MPAA could win a case where pure archival backups would be made illegal.

USC Title 17, Chapter 12 (The DMCA), Section 1201:

Paragraph (c)(1):

Nothing in this section shall affect rights, remedies, limitations, or defenses to copyright infringement, including fair use, under this title.

With that paragraph, the DMCA makes a specific exception for fair use as defined by previous copyright law. If copyright law's provision for fair use allows you to make a backup of a DVD, the DMCA specifically says that is allowed.

Now, will this paragraph extend to actually allow that in practice? A court will have to decide.

But making DVD backups illegal is not going to be a cakewalk for the MPAA. Due to that paragraph, the MPAA will have to prove that the contents of the DVD are copyrighted in such a way that fair use isn't allowed.