[clug] viva la DMCA? [was: Against US-AU FTA Intellectual Property Clauses]

Darren Freeman daz111 at rsphysse.anu.edu.au
Mon Apr 12 04:24:21 GMT 2004

On Sat, 2004-04-10 at 13:58, Jepri wrote:
> I don't support the MPAA/RIAA, I just don't care about them.  And I 
> don't have to wait for a revolution.
> The laws that Darren has brought to our attention allow the MPAA/RIAA to 
> tightly control how I use their product.  Fine by me.  If they won't let 
> me play with their stuff, I'll go find someone who will.

That would work in a competitive free marketplace. We don't have one.
There are barriers against switching formats.

Consumers have gone and bought DVD players. It's a fact. They won't
accept movies on any format other than DVD for the forseeable future.

The MPAA seeks to control access to this format. They push laws into
effect that give them this control. We the people have the power to push
back and demand control over our own goddam DVD players. Even to (gasp)
make our own if we don't like the ones they offer us.

> And talking about 'backup rights' sounds silly when I put it in context:
> "Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and free backups of their 
> music CDROMs".

That argument applies equally badly to any other right.

"Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and filing lawsuits against software pirates."

Makes copyright sound silly, doesn't it? Nope.

> 'Whadda we want?  Backup rights!  When do we wannit?  Now!'

It might get to that if people realise that what they have been doing
all along in their homes is going to land themselves in gaol.

> If we want more rights, why don't we go for GPL-style rights?

Because it's hard to make money from freely distributable music CDs.

It's no harder to make money from CDs that give the right to a backup.
Except when CDs get damaged, in which case you can presently hope to
make another sale. But that's really not going to happen very often,
people will simply make the backup and not tell the authorities.

> Just because they produce the movies that people like to watch, doesn't 
> mean that they reign over anyone.  They are not opressing you when they 
> stop you watching their movies.  Your choice of words is unsettling.
> If you want their movies, you play their game.  Otherwise, order movies 
> from backwards countries who don't encrypt their DVDs.

I have a counter-example. I love the TV series "Firefly". It seriously
rocks and I encourage everyone to watch a friend's copy then go buy it
if they like it too.

The creator, Joss Whedon, is a seriously great guy. He would never
contemplate region-locking his work, IMHO. But he is faced with the
reality of having to assign his copyrights to Fox in order to get
funding. Fox have in repayment cancelled his show halfway through its
first season.

The only way for me to get my nice shiny new copy of Firefly is to order
it from the US. A cancelled TV show isn't going to make it to foreign
markets very quickly. The DVDs from the US are manufactured by Sony, and
they have agreed with Fox to encrypt and region lock the DVD to region
1. Joss wouldn't have agreed to this but it's not his choice anymore.

If I use an MPAA-approved DVD player, I can't play these. This is
*wrong*. If I use an MPAA-approved software application, then I must
change the region of the DVD-ROM and after five times doing this my $200
drive becomes permanently locked and somewhat worthless at playing DVDs.

A non-MPAA piece of software will quite rightly play my Firefly DVDs.
But this is a criminal offence under the FTA. The alternative is to burn
backups of Firefly which are decrypted and unlocked. This is the best as
I can now lend it to friends in place of the originals and they can
actually play them. Plus my originals stay on the mantlepiece where they
belong, not getting scratched. Of course I never had the right to do
that but the FTA makes it a hardcore offence rather than a minor one.

> > Freedom will be won and maintained by opposing those that would take it 
> > away.  Not by supporting oppressive regimes in some misguided 
> > reverse-psycology hope that it will ultimately lead to their collapse.
> You are free, right now, and you will be free under the FTA.  You will 
> be free to say "The MPAA are a bunch of asshats who won't let me watch 
> their movies on my laptop".

I consider Mutant Enemy (producers of Firefly, Buffy, Angel, etc.) to be
downright opposed to the MPAA. They are as independent as it gets. But
they would go broke if they didn't let Fox fund them. And thus the MPAA
keeps its power.

> You will be free to continue giving them money while making impassioned 
> speeches to everyone around you about how they are opressing you by 
> taking away your freedom.  And your money.
> You will be free to stop supporting them by giving them money.  Any time 
> you want, just stop buying their movies/CDs.

See above.

> I'm already mostly RIAA free, without a revolution.  I'm typing this up 
> listening to the latest free downloads from a local artist 
> (http://underscore.no-ip.info/downloads.html), and there are many more 
> out there (http://irate.sourceforge.net/).
> Ditching the MPAA will be a little harder.  Independent movie studios 
> don't seem to be using of digital technology yet.  But with the price of 
> digital movie cameras dropping, and movie editing software getting 
> better (thanks apple), they'll get there soon.

And until then, it will remain nigh impossible to watch their
productions on Linux without being a criminal. Might as well go raping
and pillaging too, if we're all criminals anyway.

Have fun,

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