Imagine if you would, a scenario.
The time: Sometime in mid 20th century
The place: A normal everyday family home
Uncle Albert is listening to his favorite phonograph records on the brand new RCA phonograph and marvelling at the advances in technology when there is a knock at the door:
Albert [opening door]: Hello?
Lawyer: Are you Mr. Albert N. Other?
Lawyer: I have here a subpoena, and a cease and desist order. You're being sued for $30,000
Lawyer: Sir, we have it on good authority that you are listening to your records on a new and highly illegal invention. One that bypasses the Analog Rights Management [A.R.M] built into those records. You purchased them ONLY to be played on a wind up phonograph, that [points at RCA phonograph] is an illegal circumvention device. It clearly violates several patents, including one we have a copy of right here, "Using a pointy thing with some kind of vaguely specified making-louder device to play back some vaguely defined flat recording media".
Albert: But I paid for those records dammit!
Lawyer: Sir, you merely paid for the use of the songs and other Intellectual Property™ contained thereon. You do NOT own those records, and your playing them back like this is CLEARLY an attempt to do the composer out of money!
Albert: But Beethoven's been dead for years!
Lawyer: Yeah and I suppose that makes it ok to defraud his descendants out of their money?
Albert:I PAID FOR THEM DAMMIT.
Lawyer [to cops on doorstep]: Officers, sieze that illegal circumvention device!
[cops muscle past Albert and seize the phonograph, ripping wires out of the wall, spilling records everywhere and then walking on them]
Lawyer [Turning to walk out]: I'll see you and 200 million other people in court buddy!
Kinda slapstick isn't it? Unfortunately that is EXACTLY the situation MILLIONS are in now, due to badly worded and badly interpreted laws. Substitute "PC Running Linux" for RCA Phonograph, substitute "DVD Player" for "Wind up phonograph" and substitute "DVD Movie" for "record" and you have EXACTLY the situation now.
The law makes it illegal in the US to watch your OWN DVD movies on a pc running anything but Windows. Simply because the organization responsible has not made available an open source decoder, forcing people to use DeCss or a variant. Which of course is illegal, as the code is copyrighted. According to those in the DVD industry anyway. Kind of similar in concept to patenting a cut on your finger, then suing Crayola because they also market a "device" [crayon] capable of making red marks on paper.
Nobody thinks anyone should go round making illegal copies of movies and be legally allowed to, HOWEVER, if you purchase media, it is YOUR RIGHT to play it however you wish, if that involves building a DVD player out of Lego, go for it, you should be allowed to. The Motion Picture Association of America doesn't want you to.
CD companies are putting "Digital Rights Management" software on CDs.. and mislabelling them as Audio CDs, this constitutes a "Trojan Horse" program, and is ILLEGAL. But are they being prosecuted? No.
Things have gotten out of hand, Artists have rights, they originated the content. Record companies unfortunately also have rights, although not too many. YOU as a consumer also have rights. They're being eroded and destroyed in the name of industry and commerce. I find this disturbing.
The MPAA's website has software available for parents to find and delete illegal filesharing programs on their kids' computers, isn't that nice of them?
NO, it's not, filesharing per se is NOT illegal. If for example I own a cassette of "Quuuux's greatest hits", I am legally allowed to download the mp3s. I purchased [in the form of a cassette tape] the right to posess those tracks. Whether the original is still playable is neither here nor there. IF I have sold the original, I have also sold my rights to own the content, and must destroy any copies [or hand them over with the original]. This is fair enough. The attitude of the large organizations, [The RIAA have a habit of suing dead people] is OUT OF ORDER and they need stopped.
I have yet to see evidence that the Videocassette recorder has caused ONE artist to end up on the streets, yet that is what the MPAA was claiming in the early '80s.
Unfortunately this time, they have the legislators on their side, the EU is agressively targeting isp's that host bittorrent trackers, people are being sued left, right and center, and yet the actual pirates [not the ones with eyepatches, wrong type] who are making thousands of copies illegally in some countries are getting away with it because the industry found a scapegoat.
That scapegoat is You. Doesn't feel good does it?
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Last Modified 2005-11-18