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Who Can We Sue - the DVD Game!

By nascent in News
Mon Mar 20, 2000 at 10:00:58 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)

Interesting stuff. Some kid in another country comes up with a way to bypass DVD encryption (DeCSS) and he gets hammered. Sony's Playstation 2 is found to be able to play foreign-code DVD's - violating copyright laws.
[editor's note, by rusty] From reading the article at Wired, I gather that the problem is not the same as the one that made the original DeCSS hack possible, but is related to Byzantine DVD geographic zone licensing restrictions, and the effective lack thereof in the PS2. Questions raised by this news appear below.

Some questions raised by this snafu:
  • Will the MPAA sue Sony?
  • If Sony is sued, why were the vendors that made the original DVD hack (DeCSS) possible not held liable for their "accident" as well?
  • If Sony isn't sued, what does that say about the ethics of the MPAA's rather selective method of targeting those that violate the standard?
  • Will this then open the doorway to other similar hacks since the MPAA seem to have waived interest in suing over it?


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Who Can We Sue - the DVD Game! | 6 comments (6 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Yup this is a new twist... Who thin... (none / 0) (#2)
by rongen on Mon Mar 20, 2000 at 05:59:21 AM EST

rongen voted 1 on this story.

Yup this is a new twist... Who thinks they will leave Sony alone? I am sure they would fine a way to "settle" out of court...
read/write http://www.prosebush.com

Rumours. (none / 0) (#5)
by static on Mon Mar 20, 2000 at 06:48:46 PM EST

At least in Australia, manufacturers are not supposed to ship multi-region DVD
players anymore, even if they're not advertised as such. (Pioneer, for
instance, used to do this as a matter of course.) This was rumoured to be at
the instigation of Sony et al in exchange for lowering the technology license

Perhaps SCEI (the part that makes the PS2) doesn't believe in DVD regions and
hoped they would slip it past Sony Corporate :-).


[ Parent ]
I don't think the MPAA actually has... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
by rusty on Mon Mar 20, 2000 at 09:20:31 AM EST

rusty voted 1 on this story.

I don't think the MPAA actually has any obligation to sue anyone, if they don't want to. Suing the makers of DeCSS is not at all the same as suing the DVD software that was distributed with information allowing the hack in the first place. And now the Sony thing is another permutation altogether, related to the zone-licensing restrictions. Regardless, the MPAA has built a rats-nest of tangled allegiances and obligations, and is now paying a very public price for the kind of Machiavellian licensing schemes that the movie industry lives and dies by. Who knows where it'll end.

Not the real rusty

Even more interesting... (none / 0) (#3)
by rusty on Mon Mar 20, 2000 at 12:12:59 PM EST

Apparently this sort of thing is possible with many other players as well. Take a look at this site which explains how to do it with no less than 30-some-odd commercial DVD players. So basically, the PS2 thing is not only nothing new, but literally just the only drop in the ocean that's been noticed so far, looks like.

Link found on Shakaimen (a Scoop site!), story here.

Not the real rusty

Wired needs a cluestick (none / 0) (#4)
by fluffy grue on Mon Mar 20, 2000 at 02:36:52 PM EST

The lapse in security in the PS2 doesn't violate copyright, it violates quite-arbitrary playback control, which is part of the license attached to the creative works, not the copyright. Copyright is universal, it's licensing which is at issue here. Typically all copyrighted works go under the same rules (the rules which cover books and works of art), though a license (such as the GPL or BSDL) can be used to grant additional freedoms with the copyrighted work. What I can't stand about software (meaning the broad sense which the MPAA and RIAA loves, namely any sort of digital content loaded onto a digital device, including music and movies) is that the licenses take away additional copyrights, such as the ability to view the information at any time (the ancient, famous and ignored license on videotapes and DVDs stipulate that you can't use it in a public or paid showing) or the ability to extract a fragment of the information under fair use.

It's not a copyright issue, it's a license issue. An easter egg in Sony's 1.0 revision of the DVD playback violated the terms of the licensing. The 1.01 "upgrade" closes this easter egg. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before the 1.0 software is widely-available though (which would violate the copyright of the playback software).

Of course, the MPAA and RIAA both love to claim it's a copyright issue, thus making it supposedly-international and a means to label anyone who doesn't agree with their licensing mechanisms an evil pirate, but they violate the rights of the users of the copyrighted material.

Rights go both ways. I wish big businesses would understand that (or, specifically, acknowledge that).
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]

All DVD players are like this (none / 0) (#6)
by Dacta on Tue Mar 21, 2000 at 01:01:02 AM EST

I bought one (a non-PC one) a couple of weeks back - yeah, I know I'm no longer politically correct.

Anyway, I live in Australia, which is in the Region 4 encoding area, so we can't play US release DVDs, unless you get a Multi-Region player.

In a lot of the shops, they have on the list of features "Multi-Region" as one of the selling points (usually on the non-major brands).

I ended up buying a Toshiba, which isn't Multi-region from a major department store. I asked the assistant "Is this multi-region", and she didn't even blink. She told me "No, but it only costs $50 to chip it, and most of the Sony Players cost $150+ to chip". She even told me a place where I could get it done.

The multi-region thing is pretty much ignored as far as I can tell. The discs are still encoded, but stores here sell both US and Region 1 discs, and the main selling point seems to be availability (US disks come out sooner) vs extra features (Region 4 disks sometime have more extra-scenes and sometime the sound is better).

Who Can We Sue - the DVD Game! | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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