« "Unfair" Competition | Main | For the weekend »

August 21, 2009

Comments

Patel:In so doing, the DMCA tipped the balance towards the copyright owners.

Right, cause things were so balanced before that happened.

The DMCA has widely been held to prohibit the creation of tools to allow people to exercise their fair use rights, to the point where creating code to let people with linux OSes create players for DVDs. (See the DeCSS case for the most widely known.

And that was part of the point of the fight against the DMCA originally, if it bans the ability to make the tools to exercise fair use rights, then you don't really have them. Plus the companies can cripple your movies/music/soon books and make them unreadable eventually to force you to buy them again in the new format. Or, less sinisterly, when the company that made the DRM goes out of business. And then it's illegal for you to use something you've already paid for.

So her ruling is in line with the precedent of the DMCA, but that doesn't make it a good law, or a good decision.

My take is that the ruling as regards to what DMCA says is almost certainly correct. It's just that DMCA was a terrible, blatantly anti-consumer law. It's not even a matter of it being outdated so much as being geared to shut down fair use and gut consumer rights from the very start. It's not a bug, it's a feature.

An interesting post on an interesting question, von!

I'd open the conversation up a bit. I think the "has the DMCA kept up with technology" frame is a bit limiting.

The DMCA was, itself, an enormous reduction in the zone of fair use, undertaken at the behest of large corporate intellectual property owners under the guise of Congress's responding to technological change.

This seems to me to be a fairly regular legislative pattern. Take FISA reform, in which the "intelligence community" (a euphemism that always belongs in heavy quotation marks) used the excuse of new technology to roll back restrictions that it had never liked in the first place.

I agree that new technologies require new approaches, legally as well as technically. But to a great extent the underlying issues of the limits of fair use remain the same. And we'll have a more honest and productive answer if we start by asking where we want to end up in terms of the relative rights of consumers/producers of new content, on the one hand, and holders of already extant intellectual property rights on the other. Only after we've sorted out where ideally that line should be drawn should we worry about the technical end of things. Focusing too soon and too exclusively on the technical issues will likely lead to more, not fewer, unintended consequences going forward.

And shutting down fair use was NOT an "unintended consequence", von, it was part of the point of the DMCA.

And shutting down fair use was NOT an "unintended consequence", von, it was part of the point of the DMCA.

I think that's highly debatable. I agree with the point -- made by commentators on this blog and Judge Patel herself -- that the DMCA was intended to be highly favorable to copyright holders. The anti-circumvention measures (which have limited exceptions, none of which appear to apply here) were the meat of the bill. One thought, however, was that hardware manufacturers would act as a check on unrestrained anti-circumvention, because there was nothing in the bill required hardware manufacturers to create systems that accepted all anti-circumvention measures.

At the time, I suspected that this limitation was not going to act as a practical check, because manufacturers and media providers are both incentivized to agree on a set of common standards. (In game theory terms, it is a multi-player game in which cooperation is both the pareto and Nash equilibriums.) I think history has shown that I suspicions are correct; hence, I think that it is time (some would say "well past the time") to take another careful look at the DMCA.

To pour some oil on the fire: Could the production and import of ammunition be banned in order to render the 2nd amendment rights meaningless without technically violating them?

I think that it is time (some would say "well past the time") to take another careful look at the DMCA.

that would be the first look Congress has had of it.

the DMCA, like most major intellectual property law in the past 100 years, was written by "content industry" lawyers and submitted to Congress for rubber stamping (or, in this case, voice voting). Congressmen are not intellectual property lawyers, and so they have no idea what they're passing.

I enjoyed this post von; thanks for writing it. I do have one question: is the licensing agreement that Real signed available for us to examine? I thought those licenses were all secret.

One thought, however, was that hardware manufacturers would act as a check on unrestrained anti-circumvention, because there was nothing in the bill required hardware manufacturers to create systems that accepted all anti-circumvention measures.

Can you clarify what you mean here? Are you referring to DVD player manufacturers refusing to implement the hardware required to decrypt most DVDs? Or what?

Gosh: I am old enough to remember when the big deal for the music industry was the sale of blank audio tapes, because people with combined radio/tape decks could record songs off the radio for free without paying for them.

I have a pretty large amount of music on my MP3 players (3 of them) all of which I bought legally: none of which I would have learned to know I liked and been willing to pay money for if the radio, my friends, and the Internet, in that order, had not enabled me to try before I bought.

Oh, and I used to record music off the radio on to blank audiotapes, too. What a criminal I was.

“As for the intellectual property, I try not to get too worked up about it. There’s a lot of people angsting about piracy and copying of stuff on the Internet, publishers who are very, very worried about the whole idea of ebook piracy. I like to get a little bit of perspective on it by remembering that back before the Internet came along, we had a very special term for the people who buy a single copy of a book and then allow all their friends to read it for free. We called them librarians.”

The DMRC and other corporate attackers of their customers' habit of doing free advertising of their wares are mad, and I call the Chewbacca Defense: it does not make sense, and their customers must be acquitted.

the DMCA, like most major intellectual property law in the past 100 years, was written by "content industry" lawyers and submitted to Congress for rubber stamping (or, in this case, voice voting). Congressmen are not intellectual property lawyers, and so they have no idea what they're passing.

This notion breaks down with regard to recent efforts to reform the patent laws, where powerful interest (and industry) groups are pitted against one another, by and large resulting in gridlock. I hope to get a post on this subject up, tying this issue to the health care debate.

I enjoyed this post von; thanks for writing it. I do have one question: is the licensing agreement that Real signed available for us to examine? I thought those licenses were all secret.

I don't know if this particular license is public or private, but Judge Patel describes some of the relevant sections of the license in her publicly-available decision. Judge Patel's opinion is linked above, but also available here. The discussion of the CSS license begins on page 42 of the opinion (paragraph no. 121). It appears that at least some of the CSS license is available from DVD CCA, although I don't know that you'll be able to know for sure what variant is at issue in Real Networks' case.

I suppose I should add a Fair Warning: the last link leads to the TVTropes website, so don't click on it unless you're crazy prepared for a weekend lost in TVTropes.

To move slightly off track, I find it interesting that making something to give people the ability to exercise their rights might be illegal, but manufacturing something (radar detectors) whose sole purpose is to allow people to circumvent the law is legal.

Yeah, but it's illegal to possess a radar detector in Virginia.

so don't click on it

Indeed.

Why your loins? Because that's where the law strikes!

But de minimis non curat lex.

/shows self out

This notion breaks down with regard to recent efforts to reform the patent laws, where powerful interest (and industry) groups are pitted against one another, by and large resulting in gridlock.

just because the IP lawyers can't agree on what to tell Congress to do right now doesn't mean they won't figure something out (by agreement or force) and tell Congress what to do in the future.

we, the people, will be lucky if we get a chance to read it and impotently complain before the eventual bill becomes law.

It's not a matter of "keeping up" with technology -- this very issue was present and debated from the very start of the DMCA.

It was pretty explicitly an end-run around fair use. They didn't want to challenge fair-use directly, so they made it illegal to circumvent encryption technologies...and then encrypted everything.

" We called them librarians.”


Not quite, they bought a finite number of copies, loaned them for a spcific time and if someone else kept them they had to purchase another. The librarian didn't copy the book each time someone came in and let them take it to keep.

Marty, picky, picky, picky.

Actually, a very valid point. In addition they charge people who keep them too long.

von: I think that's highly debatable. I agree with the point -- made by commentators on this blog and Judge Patel herself -- that the DMCA was intended to be highly favorable to copyright holders. The anti-circumvention measures (which have limited exceptions, none of which appear to apply here) were the meat of the bill. One thought, however, was that hardware manufacturers would act as a check on unrestrained anti-circumvention, because there was nothing in the bill required hardware manufacturers to create systems that accepted all anti-circumvention measures.

von, sometimes I can't tell if you're being serious or not. 6 companies own 95%ish of the "content" (music, movies, books, tv) industry. One of those companies, Sony, is also a giant hardware company, who helps set the standards. Time Warner owns AOL, which is still big, even now. Microsoft is partnered with GE's NBC on channels and websites, and is, well, Microsoft. GE makes all sorts of things, including electronics. Here's the CJR's page of Who Owns What.

Why you would think the hardware companies would make hardware specifically to screw over their biggest customers, who all worked together to get the DMCA passed, I don't know.

Seriously, I don't. Why did you think the hardware companies would go against their biggest customers. Why would hardware makers go against Microsoft, who has a track record of screwing over vendors who don't toe their line? Sony's big in all the trade associations for electronics too. GE is gigantic. Would you want to be the company whose DVD players wouldn't work on the newest Disney flick?

Seriously, in this, and some other things, I really am curious to know how you manage to keep such an idealized view of people and companies and their actions and intentions.

was that hardware manufacturers would act as a check on unrestrained anti-circumvention, because there was nothing in the bill required hardware manufacturers to create systems that accepted all anti-circumvention measures

this was a naive thought, at best. since content companies will refuse to allow their content to be put into a format that circumvents their control, so hardware companies have to play by the content companies' rules when it comes to developing new hardware.

Samsung can develop all the data storage formats it wants, but if the RIAA or MPAA don't think their content is safe on any of them, you'll never be able to buy legal content in those formats.

For a look at some of the larger issues copyright control and anti-circumvention laws raise, click here.

I'm always glad to loin more about the law.

Seriously, in this, and some other things, I really am curious to know how you manage to keep such an idealized view of people and companies and their actions and intentions.

Nate, I'm pretty sure that I wrote (in the very next paragraph) that "At the time, I suspected that this limitation was not going to act as a practical check, ..." In other words, I didn't buy the arguments at the time.

That said, your impressions of industry convergence are just as naive as the views that you (mistakenly) ascribe to me. It's just false to think that "6 companies own 95%ish of the "content" (music, movies, books, tv) industry." Content ownership is actually highly distributed. In many cases, a single movie or television show has a multitude of owners, even though one may have a controlling interest.

IANAL, but I've yet to hear anyone explain what might be the positive aspects of the DMCA: anyone care to take a shot at it?

I'd like to know why the whole thing shouldn't be junked.

One thought, however, was that hardware manufacturers would act as a check on unrestrained anti-circumvention, because there was nothing in the bill required hardware manufacturers to create systems that accepted all anti-circumvention measures.

As we saw with the HD-DVD/BluRay wars (and, many would argue, Microsoft v Apple), it's software that drives hardware sales, not vice versa.

"It's just false to think that "6 companies own 95%ish of the 'content' (music, movies, books, tv) industry. Content ownership is actually highly distributed. In many cases, a single movie or television show has a multitude of owners, even though one may have a controlling interest."

While I'd have to modify Nate's claim to "content that is currently kept in print/stock or frequently made available again, and is still under copyright protection," your response, von, seems to be besides Nate's point.

The relevant aspect of Nate's point is that the controlling interest in most currently-popular-enough to be currently desirable, and still under copyright, content, is held by, overall, a relatively small concentration of companies.

That corporate deals can be complicated, which is the point you made in return, isn't relevant to Nate's point, save as a derailing technicality.

Most radio stations used to be independent. Now they aren't. Most newspapers used to be independent, and there were lots of small chains. Now there aren't. Most book publishers used to be independent. Now they aren't. There used to be lots of small successful record producers; now, not so many.

Etc.

Gary - The DMCA was, in general, quite positive. For instance, the DMCA implements a series of WIPO treaties and normalizes US copyright law with international law. The DMCA also contained key safe harbors for repair services and internet provides. Wikipedia has a good overview of the DMCA here.

It's the anti-circumvention measures that I think deserve a further look (and which I also thought deserved a further look at the time the DMCA was passed). But the DMCA in general? A pretty good law.

To look at it from the other end, and use Nate's link more selectively, look at, for instance, what Bertelsmann owns (although I suspect most folks here have never heard of them). Tell me that's not a major concentration of media ownership.

"But the DMCA in general? A pretty good law."

Thanks, von, but re-examining the Wikipedia summary still makes the overwhelming majority of the DMCA (with a few exceptional bits) look terrible to me. It may be, of course, a matter of perspective as to which parts are most significant.

"...amended Title 17 of the United States Code to extend the reach of copyright" is terrible.

"...while limiting the liability of the providers of on-line services for copyright infringement by their users" is good.

"he second portion is often known as the DMCA anti-circumvention provisions."

Horrific.

Title III and IV are fine. And I'm not a boat-builder, but Title V sounds fine.

It's good that the LOC can issue "exemptions from the prohibition against circumvention of access-control technology," but I oppose access-control technology, at least insofar as it prohibits personal use, period. Why is copying video purely for personal use any more immoral, unethical, undesirable, or unhealthy, than, for personal use, audio-copying of music, or video-taping of tv programs, or buying a used book, or loaning a friend a book/tape/CD/DVD, or using a library?

Why should there be limitations on personal use of any of these things. (I'm fine with limiting mass production of any of these things to copyright holders, to be sure, although as we've discussed many times, I think copyright time-spans should be cut back considerably from recent extensions, to something like lifetime of the creator plus 18 years, or so.)

Digital rights management is a horrible idea.

So it all seems to be, at this time, with the information I have, at any rate.

For instance, the DMCA implements a series of WIPO treaties and normalizes US copyright law with international law.

I've always been curious to what extent these aspects of the DMCA were just policy laundering. Typically what happens is that if a group can't get the US government to change the law precisely to their liking, they go to some international body, and convince them to adopt their proposals as standards. Then that same group can run around Washington screaming about how the new standard is going to be adopted by every country in the world and business won't be able to function because WE NEED HARMONIZATION NOW so you have to pass implementing legislation hurry up before it is too late! Meanwhile, the same groups are running around various European capitals screeching the same thing in the local languages.

At the time, I suspected that this limitation was not going to act as a practical check, because manufacturers and media providers are both incentivized to agree on a set of common standards.

Uh, no they're not. Hardware manufacturers generally have an incentive to find common standards, but the media providers' business model relies on selling you the same content over and over again in different formats. Their wet dream is for you to pay to have Bladerunner on VHS, DVD, Bluray, iTunes download, iTunes download formatted for iPod, iTunes hi-def download, etc.

I intend never to progress beyond CDs and DVDs, because those at least I can rip and take real ownership of without any hassle, and because the quality of the recordings is more than good enough. DVDs are actually better quality than nearly all downloadable or cable TV-provided 'hi def' content, because that hi-def over pipes stuff is compressed as all bejeesus. Who cares if the resolution is higher if the colours and contrast look terrible? The only thing with higher data-per-second than a DVD is bluray, but that's expensive and, even worse, ridden with consumer-punching region-encoding and rip-inhibiting technology.

Ripping DVDs is the only way that a law-abiding content consumer like myself, who frequently lives in different countries and buys DVDs there, can watch all his perfectly legally acquired content without buying multiple DVD players and other such nonsense.

byrningman: Ripping DVDs is the only way that a law-abiding content consumer like myself, who frequently lives in different countries and buys DVDs there, can watch all his perfectly legally acquired content without buying multiple DVD players and other such nonsense.

Exactly. There was a joke pic going around LJ for a while after one of the anti-piracy additions to DVDS - loud noisy un-ffwardable through: a fan looking dismayed asking "Why didn't I download a PIRATE copy, then I wouldn't have all the crummy anti-piracy vidcrud at the start of my film?"

Hardware manufacturers generally have an incentive to find common standards, but the media providers' business model relies on selling you the same content over and over again in different formats.

And they would MUCH rather invest time and money in that than in coming up with new content. See Thursday Next, passim.

Me: so don't click on it

...which is itself of course a Trope

Slartibartfast: Bye-bye

There was a joke pic going around LJ for a while after one of the anti-piracy additions to DVDS - loud noisy un-ffwardable through: a fan looking dismayed asking "Why didn't I download a PIRATE copy, then I wouldn't have all the crummy anti-piracy vidcrud at the start of my film?"

Exactly! As you probably know, DVDs in the UK are particularly obnoxious this way: in addition to the superfluous anti-piracy ad, you're often forced to sit through multiple trailers and even ADVERTISEMENTS. It never ceases to incense me, and in fact I always feel like an idiot for NOT downloading the non-crud and region-lock infested bootleg copy. It's gotten to the point where bootlegs are not only free, they're BETTER than the legit product. No wonder the media companies feel the need to bribe lawmakers into passing ever more obnoxious strictures, because they abandoned any pretense of responding to consumer preference a long time ago.

"I intend never to progress beyond CDs and DVDs, because those at least I can rip and take real ownership of without any hassle, and because the quality of the recordings is more than good enough."

You say that now, but wait until hologram movies come out. Let alone when you get your brainjack, and can enjoy replayable mass-distributed recorded memory shows.

"The only thing with higher data-per-second than a DVD is bluray, but that's expensive and, even worse, ridden with consumer-punching region-encoding and rip-inhibiting technology."

Also, you have to be able to afford an HD tv to see enough improvement in quality to make a significant difference.

"Ripping DVDs is the only way that a law-abiding content consumer like myself"

I only live in one country, and I Netflix and rip my own copies to keep and watch at my leisure. Same as I would DVR or videotape, a movie or tv show. I do not feel guilty about this. It's purely for personal use only.

"...in fact I always feel like an idiot for NOT downloading the non-crud and region-lock infested bootleg copy."

It's a lot easier and faster, to just any of the dozen-plus programs available to strip all that stuff off your rented disc, and burn the clean copy to your own disk, it seems to me, but I suppose circumstances vary. I've used one or more of the variants of this, but there are a variety of choices, both buyable, or, ah, bootleg.

Of course, if you have very fast download speeds, it might be just as easy or easier to go that way.

I like trailers, though. That is, I like having them available, and skipping them when I'm not interested.

We don't otherwise get ads on our commercial DVDs in the states, but I do like stripping out the, irony, FBI warning. I also format my disks to go directly to the main menu, rather than having to push a button to do that if the original disk was formatted otherwise.

While I'd have to modify Nate's claim to "content that is currently kept in print/stock or frequently made available again, and is still under copyright protection," your response, von, seems to be besides Nate's point.

I agree that there is greater concentration than there has been, but I disagree that with Nate's premise that there is, effectively, no effective distinction between media producers/owners and hardware suppliers. There are, and we have examples of a multitude of hardware and software standards.

What I think some folks missed during the passage of the DMCA is that, following a shaking out period, there would be rapid convergence on a single standard that would likely be pretty favorable to media producers.

Also, you have to be able to afford an HD tv to see enough improvement in quality to make a significant difference.

True enough, but the last time I saw HD over cable, it looked rubbish. I had to laugh, the owners of said television being all excited about their HD programming, even though the image was far worse than DVD-quality in every sense other than the resolution. Blu-ray does look good, but I find that if I'm sitting back at a civilised distance, the difference between that and DVD is really not that exciting, and more than counterbalanced by blu-ray's shortcomings in terms of price, hard-to-circumvent region-encoding and so on.

I've spent a fair amount of time in Russia where, the last time I was there, bootleg DVDs were still readily available in stores. Even upscale stores would have all the legit DVDs on one side of the room, and the essentially identical bootleg DVDs on the other side. I remember asking one guy working there what the difference was between the roughly $20 version of some movie and the roughly $3 version and, pointing to the latter, he replied with impeccable logic that "this one is cheaper".

Peaches are in no way like digital media. There, I said it.

Just out of curiosity, is it relatively easy to get region free DVD players in the US? The reason I ask is that I want to send my dad home with some Japanese TV dramas. Are the players primarily a mail order thing, or can you buy them at your local superstore?

"I agree that there is greater concentration than there has been, but I disagree that with Nate's premise that there is, effectively, no effective distinction between media producers/owners and hardware suppliers. There are, and we have examples of a multitude of hardware and software standards."

That wasn't my point. My point was there are 6 companies that "own" about 95% of our contemporary cultural heritage, and the hardware vendors were not going to try to piss them off. Therefore, anybody saying that hardware vendors would provide a safety valve or anything similar in regards to the DMCA's Fair Use strangling was silly.

Which was really only an illustration of one of the reasons for my original point, which was one of the purposes of the DMCA was to to cut out Fair Use, which the content companies have hated for years.

Von: "I agree that there is greater concentration than there has been, but I disagree that with Nate's premise that there is, effectively, no effective distinction between media producers/owners and hardware suppliers. There are, and we have examples of a multitude of hardware and software standards."

What sort of standards do you have in mind that go to your point that "One thought, however, was that hardware manufacturers would act as a check on unrestrained anti-circumvention, because there was nothing in the bill required hardware manufacturers to create systems that accepted all anti-circumvention measures..."?

I apologize that I'm being slow, but I'm somewhat confused as to what standards you're referring to, and how it answers Nate's question of how/why "the hardware companies would make hardware specifically to screw over their biggest customers," which is the other point, besides media ownership concentration, that you seemed to be disagreeing with Nate about.

byrningman: "True enough, but the last time I saw HD over cable, it looked rubbish. I had to laugh, the owners of said television being all excited about their HD programming, even though the image was far worse than DVD-quality in every sense other than the resolution."

I don't have an HD tv, and haven't watched cable HD tv elsewhere, either (I'm reasonably sure all the HD tvs I've seen in stores were connected to players, not a commercial cable system, though I've never gone around inspecting to be absolutely sure of this): do you have any notion what technical standard might be different, and do you know if such standards are the same in British, American, and HD-cable tv elsewhere? Obviously I could do some Google research, but I'm asking in case you happen to know any of the vaguely technical details off the top of your head, because you arouse my curiosity mildly.

I've read plenty of people in America saying how impressed they are with HD-cable tv, so I'm wondering if you're referring to systems with the same standards, or the people I've read are imagining things, or what.

A very quick google did find this comparison, but I'm -- pretty idly -- faintly interested in what the technical differences might be, if they're not over my head, between the HD cable and Blu-ray standard, and also if different countries have noticeably different HD cable standards, besides the difference in tvs between 720p and 1080i, which although I haven't directly compared, I suspect my poor eyesight might not distinguish between, in any case. But which standard are the cable systems you're referring to on, anyway?

My idle curiosity is, I suppose:
a) partially on the theory that some day the cost of HD tvs will come down to the point where eventually I can get one; and:
b) partially I'm curious about what differences people in different countries might see; and:
c) random general curiosity.

If you don't know, though, as I'm saying, my curiosity isn't all that deep.

Gary, I suspect that byrningman might be referring to cable companies compressing their HD signals so as to offer more channels at the expense of video quality. This page gives some idea of what I'm talking about; note the screenshot comparisons.

Thanks, Turbulence; that's helpful. That's certainly a vivid degradation.

I only have cable access at present because the house I'm in has it, and I only pay some $3/month for the extra box. But as it is, there are a zillion channels I don't even look at the listings for -- all those music and pay-per-view and Christian and shopping and sports channels, for starters; I just have a set of "favorites" listings that I look at, and somehow even then there are rarely more than, at maximum, more than 5-6 things on at the same time that I have more than the most minimal interest in, and it's been pretty rare that there are actually as many as 2-3 things on at the same time, out of all those hundreds of channels, that I actually really would like to watch.

So I'm inclined to not, myself, so much see the value of all that many more channel, from a purely personal view. Obviously lots of people will be interested in a lot more tv than I am.

Though, come to think of it, I never want to do serious tv watching other than on DVD, anyway, although if I paid for a DVR, I'd differ in my habits. But I'd never want to trade being able to pause, zoom, and use subtitles, for watching a movie I'm seriously interested in, rather than having on as casual background/half-watching-while-reading, without those features, if I had a choice. And there are only ever a handful of tv shows I take that seriously. But having lived for years without cable, when I lived alone, and couldn't afford it, I got used to watching tv shows on DVD, too; thus, The Wire, Deadwood, Rome, and a few others (most of neo-BSG); in the end I'm glad I was forced to watch them on DVD, even though it left me a year behind on discussions of them, because I'd have hated, in the end, to have treated those features (and deleted scenes and commentary!) for mere immediacy, even though when I've had immediacy on the few programs I've distinctly, in recent years, liked (Firefly, Buffy, to some degree Heroes, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, I've been unable to resist). But those shows I end up collecting via Netflix/ripping, anyway.

And if I were trapped without internet access or books, or, way after those two, DVD access and computer games, I'd have a rise in priority of interest in some tv shows, for what it's worth. But thank the universe, I'm only, while I'm living here, occasionally lacking internet access and only once in a while do we have a blackout.

For the record, this is Time-Warner, not Comcast, not that that makes any significant difference, so far as I know.

And I hardly ever get around to watching DVDs, given all the stuff to read, as it works out.

TMI, probably. Anyway, thanks.

Be happy that there are (yet) no non-skippable ads in the movies on DVD.
---
I HATE HATE HATE it when I have the choice only between dub without subtitles and original with subtitles 'for licence reasons', especially, when the subtitles are totally riddled with errors (like confusing adult and adultery*, chair and chairman** etc.). And there was that case where I had the choice between Thai without subtitles or German with (and later the same with Chinese). FTR, I speak neither Thai nor Chinese.
---
A German specialty is also often not to include the original soundtrack of foreign films (while occasionally putting tracks in obscure languages like Finnish or Hebrew on instead), not to forget the tendency to cut scenes without admitting it on the cover.
---
The BBC publishes a lot of her programs on DVDs in Germany but not in Britain itself (and again often cut and without English soundtrack).
---
I many English books I find copyright infos on the first page that, if I read them correctly, would ban their use in libraries.
On DVDs this is often even explicit.


*as in 'you can divorce your wife only if she is adult'
**I doubt that even the British would elect a piece of furniture to run their naval board (no, they avoided another translation error here ;-))

Hartmut, you have my sympathies. I have trouble processing spoken conversation sometimes, and if there is any kind of white noise (fan noise from computers or the traditional living space variety is particularly bad) I have to turn up the volume really loud to catch all the dialogue.

Then I dated a Japanese woman for a while, and because her English comprehension was poor, we watched everything with subtitles on. I haven't gone back. As a consequence, although I'm not hearing-impaired in the traditional sense, I have a deep sympathy for those who are when it comes to poor subtitling, or--worse--the unforgivable sin of not including English-language subtitles on digital media.

One of my favorite things about blu-ray is that, entirely aside from the A/V quality differences, the increased storage space means it's becoming far more common for discs to include proper subtitling, and that foreign-language films and animation have no more excuse to not include multiple language tracks.

"Just out of curiosity, is it relatively easy to get region free DVD players in the US? The reason I ask is that I want to send my dad home with some Japanese TV dramas. Are the players primarily a mail order thing, or can you buy them at your local superstore?"

Remarkably easy, if you're a little tech savvy: A lot of the nominally region locked players have special key combos you can enter which will unlock them. (The guys writing the firmware don't much like region locking, I think.) I particularly like the Cyberhome brand, the http://www.regionfreedvd.net/player/cyberhome.html>hacks are generally quite easy, and you get a lot of value for your money.

Just be sure to do a search for "region free hacks" on the model you're contemplating buying, whatever brand it is, and just buy one you can hack easily.

Or go looking for one that's already region free, they're advertised on http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_0_7?url=search-alias%3Delectronics&field-keywords=region+free+dvd+player&sprefix=region+>Amazon.

Thanks Brett, I'm trying to get one that is relatively fuss free for my dad so I'm wondering, if a DVD player is unlocked, does it stay unlocked, or do you have to do this every time you turn it on?

As far as I know, once a DVD player is unlocked, it stays unlocked forever: you certainly don't have to go through the unlocking process every time, even if you unplug the player from the power socket completely.

The Cyberhome player I unlocked for my wife, while she was still in the Philippines, was still unlocked when it got there, after a month in shipping. I wouldn't definitively state that there aren't any players out there that have to be unlocked repeatedly, but, as a general rule, they'll stay unlocked. After all, they're supposed to remember their region, and "unlocked" is just another region for them to remember.

What sort of standards do you have in mind that go to your point that "One thought, however, was that hardware manufacturers would act as a check on unrestrained anti-circumvention, because there was nothing in the bill required hardware manufacturers to create systems that accepted all anti-circumvention measures..."?

Gary, for clarity, I am describing a viewpoint that I disagreed with at the time and disagree with now.
At the same time, I don't think that Nate is accurately describing the arguments that were offered back and forth at the time.

The idea was that manufacturers would push for greater functionality -- and thus fewer encryption standards -- and content providers would push back. As I said upthread, I didn't see the argument playing out that way, and I feel somewhat vindicated today. But it wasn't so bad an argument that it just had to have been offered in bad faith, as Nate suggested.

I just wanted to note that I have never personally worked with a creator or publisher who liked the DMCA, and that the one case I know of where the head of a creators' organization (the SFWA) was enthusiastic about it involved him using it to issue take-down notices that were so abusive that he had to back down under plausible litigation from some big-name creators who noted he was exerting alleged rights not given to him.

This isn't proof of anything, but I think it's interesting, since it's a pretty diverse group in other regards, like ranging from enthusiastic endorsement of Creative Commons licensing and fixed unrenewable copyright terms to copyright-should-never-expire absolutists. It includes very obscure small press authors and award-winning multi-million-copy best sellers alike. None of my colleagues seems to like it.

Which is worth considering the next time someone tries to justify it as being good for creators. Pin them down about which creators, and how they know it actually is any good for them.

I have to agree with the second poster. I've never thought RealNetworks had much of a leg to stand on as far as the statute was concerned. Their only hope is to get the law ruled unconstitutional, which seems highly unlikely, especially with this Supreme Court.

"One thought, however, was that hardware manufacturers would act as a check on unrestrained anti-circumvention, because there was nothing in the bill required hardware manufacturers to create systems that accepted all anti-circumvention measures."

Hahahaha. Because Sony are really going to give up DRM on Blu-Ray machines, aren't they?

It's not even a question of how few big film studios there are - unlike with VHS, which was driven by home recording, sales of DVD players and HD-DVDs (RIP) and Blu-Rays are driven by the availability, quality and price of films available. If studios refuse to sell their content on a platform which doesn't incorporate copy protection, it's dead.


I'm trying to get one that is relatively fuss free for my dad so I'm wondering, if a DVD player is unlocked, does it stay unlocked, or do you have to do this every time you turn it on?

For consumer devices, I think that they stay unlocked. I have a machine that was built unlocked, so I can't say for certain. For DVD drives in computers, however, you can generally only change the region a certain number of times before it becomes fixed. So you need to either re-install the firmware to reset the flag, or find a custom firmware which disables it altogether.

von: So what, exactly, WOULD you call arguing in bad faith? I mean, if making arguments that are ridiculous on their face to anyone who knows anything about the industries in question isn't, what is?

The DMCA is an abomination, and I'm genuinely astonished to hear anyone without an immediate vested interest in rent-seeking off of our cultural heritage maintain otherwise.

Von, how could you possibly believe this is "A pretty good law"?

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad