wasting bandwidth since 1999

Tag: mpaa

We Are Controlling Transmission

When it comes to having absolute control over the content they sell, big media companies don’t give up easily.

Or more accurately control over the content they want you pay for every time you watch it.

250px-TheOuterLimits-Screenshot-old.jpg

You may remember that at the end of last year, the FCC declined to give a small group of Hollywood studios the ability to turn off the video inputs that over 20 million high definition televisions rely on. Almost a year later, the MPAA is back, threatening not make content available, responding to year-old arguments while trying to pretend 2009 never happened, and making a lot of noise without saying anything new.

Fortunately, groups like Public Knowledge and the EFF are working hard to block the efforts of the MPAA and others who want laws mandating switches in your TV, DVD player, computer, DVR or future devices that would allow them to determine what you can and cannot do with the media you’ve already paid for.

Which reminds me, I still haven’t put Handbrake on my new machine. Get it while it still works. :-)


The graphic comes from Wikipedia and is here because reading about this issue always seems to trigger the opening narration from the 60’s TV series The Outer Limits (“There is nothing wrong with your television set…”) in my warped little mind.

A Crappy Copy Should Work Just Fine

Although most educators don’t understand the details, they are generally aware of copyright law and the fair use provisions, generally accepted by the courts, allowing them leeway in using copyrighted materials in their teaching.

However, far fewer of them know about the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), a law that makes it difficult to exercise those fair use rights, especially when it comes to DVDs.

Never fear… the MPAA has a solution: just play the program and record the video from the television set using a camcorder.

They’ve even made a helpful video to show you how to do it.  (Warning: It’s painfully funny to watch.)

This demonstration was part of the hearing now going on at the Library of Congress to determine if further exemptions to the DMCA should be permitted for all educators beyond the one granted in 2006 for college professors who teach film and media.

Keep in mind, this incredibly cumbersome, not to mention stupid, idea is brought to you by representatives of the big media companies who want to control where, when and how you view the product you thought you had already bought from them.

The DMCA shouldn’t exist at all but hopefully the panel will at least grant this provision.

For more on how the DMCA is screwing up more than fair use, read the EFF’s Unintended Consequences: Ten Years under the DMCA

Still Irrelevant

Real Networks (are they still around?) is trying to make itself relevant again by releasing a $30 program that will allow users to make digital copies of their DVDs.

With some restrictions to appease the big media companies, of course.

The software, which will go on sale on Real.com and Amazon.com this month, will allow buyers to make one copy of a DVD, playable only on the computer where it was made. The user can transfer that copy to up to five other Windows computers, but only by buying additional copies of the software for $20 each. The software does not work on high-definition Blu-ray discs, which the movie industry has even more aggressively sought to protect from illicit copying.

No thanks. Handbrake and other open source programs will do the same thing at no cost with no restrictions.

However, the larger point is that the restrictions Real’s software imposes shouldn’t be necessary.

I paid for the media. I should have the right to view it on any device I like without paying additional fees or getting permission from anyone.

Real, this program, and the whines that come from the MPAA about people “stealing” their content are all irrelevant.

Out of Your Control

Ever heard of “selectable output controls”?

The fact that they are currently banned by the FCC and that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) wants the government to eliminate that ban is a good reason learn what they are.

And more than enough cause to be very suspicious.

The basic premise of those who back SOC is that content owners should be able to decide not just who can watch their content, but how they can watch it. You want to watch my new movie on that digital TV you bought a few years ago? No, sorry, I don’t like your TV (perhaps because I’m afraid of the analog component inputs it uses).

You were hoping to TiVo that show that’s on this afternoon so that you can watch it when you get home from work? Hm, not unless you upgrade to a new TiVo, because I won’t allow the signal to make it to TiVos that don’t have digital outputs. You want to record that program so that you can make a fair use of an excerpt? Dear dear, we can’t have that.

You paid the cable bill, bought a DVD, or paid for that download from iTunes. So, you should be able to decide when and where you watch the content, right?

Not according to the MPAA. They want to retain total control over “their” media.

Fortunately, the EFF, Public Knowledge, and other consumer rights groups are challenging them on your behalf at the FCC.

Guilty Because We Say So

Remember that whole business of requiring someone to be proven guilty of a crime before being punished here in the US? You know, with actual evidence?

When it comes to copyright infringement, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), believes they should be able to collect damages from people without any of that proving infringement stuff.

“Mandating such proof could thus have the pernicious effect of depriving copyright owners of a practical remedy against massive copyright infringement in many instances,” MPAA attorney Marie L. van Uitert wrote Friday to the federal judge overseeing the Jammie Thomas trial.

“It is often very difficult, and in some cases, impossible, to provide such direct proof when confronting modern forms of copyright infringement, whether over P2P networks or otherwise; understandably, copyright infringers typically do not keep records of infringement,” van Uitert wrote on behalf of the movie studios, a position shared with the Recording Industry Association of America, which sued Thomas, the single mother of two.

The MPAA’s concept is the same philosophy (although certainly not on the same moral level) behind accusing people of being terrorists and locking them away without the bother of a trial.

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