A Fully Licensed, DMCA Compliant DVD Player For Linux

by Caitlyn Martin

On 30 May 2006 TurboLinux announced the release of version 11, also called Fuji. While TurboLinux remains very popular in Asia, particularly Japan, this announcement generated little attention or enthusiasm in the United States or Europe. The fact that TurboLinux Fuji 11 Desktop is doing something revolutionary almost went unnoticed.

What has TurboLinux done? They've partnered with Cyberlink to offer a fully legal, licensed, DMCA compliant DVD player for Linux. OK, I can hear the open source zealots advocates groaning and gnashing their teeth from here. Yes, we're talking closed source and proprietary. This is still revolutionary and still very important.

First, like it or not, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is the law of the land in the United States. There are a handful of other countries with similar laws. You can consider it unjust and stupid all you like but so far it has been thoroughly resistant to court challenges. You can break the law all you like and call it "civil disobedience" but you still leave yourself open to legal action if caught. I sure as heck am not going to walk into a client's office proudly displaying illegal software on my desktop. Thanks, but no thanks.

The lack of legal multimedia software comparable to what is available for Windows users has been a major stumbling block to getting preloaded Linux systems on store shelves and taken seriously by consumers. Say all you will about the virtues of Open Source but the average Joe or Jane user isn't interested and really doesn't want to take the time to be educated. They want their computer to just work. Save them money, speed up their systems, make them more reliable, make them more secure... it's all great but if the system doesn't do what they want they won't buy it. The average Joe or Jane user also can't load their own OS: not Linux, not Windows, not anything.

31 Comments

Brianary
2006-07-13 20:40:14
Yeah! And that outlaw Rosa Parks should have done some hard time. Or not. But I wouldn't want any of my clients to find out I supported that kind of illegal behavior. It just isn't something I can change.


"Intellectual" "property" is the modern method to ensure the wealthy stay that way.

Caitlyn Martin
2006-07-13 21:09:43
> And that outlaw Rosa Parks should have done some hard time.


I would love to hear how in the world you equate the struggle for racial equality with the right to rip off people's code. That should be interesting.


> "Intellectual" "property" is the modern method to ensure the wealthy stay
> that way.


B.S. Struggling musicians, you know, the ones that aren't pop stars, at least get some royalties from their meager CD sales thanks to intellectual property rights. Similarly I didn't get rich writing proprietary code, but at least our competitors couldn't steal the small advantage my code gave us. The choice whether something should be Open Source or closed belongs to it's creator who rightfully holds IP rights, which protect the little guy as much as the rich.


I don't see this issue as some great social injustice, either. Neither will retailers. We could do it your way -- and Linux would remain a tiny player on the desktop market. The alternative, to offer licensed software, gives a real chance for competition with Microsoft.

grouch
2006-07-14 01:43:21
It is simply wrong for the DVD cartel to be able to make it illegal for a person to play a legally purchased DVD from within GNU/Linux. Since not everyone is willing to join in civil disobedience of wrongful laws, what TurboLinux has done is remove a barrier to GNU/Linux for those people.

2006-07-14 08:53:07
> Say all you will about the virtues of Open Source but the average Joe or Jane user isn't interested and really doesn't want to take the time to be educated.


You completely miss the point on this one. It is no longer open source if it's loaded with this proprietary software. This isn't a competition between two closed-source software companies competing for marketshare; this is a clash of ideals. Thus relegating vital functionality to proprietary software does nothing to advance open source.


> This is still revolutionary and still very important.


It's also not revolutionary to comply with unjust laws; it's the very ANTIthesis of revolutionary.


>TurboLinux is doing the Linux community and those of us who advocate the OS a great service.


Think how much of a hypocrite you'll sound like when you say "I'm so glad there is a proprietary licensed solution for DVDs under Linux now!" while advocating open source. It's like saying, "open source is great unless you want to do stuff legally!"


>You can consider it unjust and stupid all you like but so far it has been thoroughly resistant to court challenges.


Not really, see Lexmark and also the garage door opener cases.


> I sure as heck am not going to walk into a client's office proudly displaying illegal software on my desktop


Why the heck are you going to be watching movies at a client's office in the first place? BTW, patents are also the "law of the land" and the kernel violates over 200 patents, you lawbreaker. Google it if you don't believe me.


p.s. I have yet to even HEAR of anyone charged with illegally watching a legally purchased DVD.

Caitlyn Martin
2006-07-14 12:47:21
grouch: First, the "DVD cartel" has never prohibited anyone from watching DVDs using GNU Linux or any other OS. What they did want is for the software to be properly licensed. Thanks to TurboLinux that will now be the case.


Anonymous: DMCA cases involving DeCSS, have, in fact, been upheld. Regarding the supposed patent violations in the kernel no court has found that to be the case. Until that happens neither I nor anyone else who uses Linux is breaking any laws. A patent has to be upheld to be enforceable.


Finally, I am not missing any point. I am not a Stallman-esque "Free Software" advocate by any means. Nobody should be forced to give away their software freely. It needs to be a free choice. That includes the folks who developed the DVD codecs.


I advocate Open Source software, notably Linux, because, to use Tim O'Reilly's words, they are "a better mousetrap". I advocate for practical reasons: security, stability, performance. I do not see free software as some sort of ideal, nor am I part of any idealistic movement. Those who are often ignore real world realities as you two have done.


The corporate Linux world, which I support, is a pastiche of open and closed software: Oracle database clusters (propreitary) running on Linux boxes (open) are typical. I support the best technical solutions, period. Open? Proprietary? Let the market decide and let the best product win. Open Source as a business model can work. Red Hat is a good example.


Y'all are purists. That's fine. You can have your beliefs. Just get used to the fact that most of the business world, including myself, do not share them. My Linux advocacy is because Linux, in many if not most cases, does a better job for my clients than Windows or commercial UNIX and does it more cost effectively.


I must say you haven't disappointed me. This is the response I expected. A larger group won't respond but just may pay $39 for TurboLinux as I will. Oh, and TurboLinux is OpenSource. You can download the source code, just not the binaries, much like Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The DVD player is an add-on, just like the proprietary software Red Hat ships on a separate CD from RHEL.

Brianary
2006-07-14 15:37:32
And you are a pragmatist (or enabler, or sellout), since we are labelling and pigeonholing. That's fine, but without idealists, we'd have even less freedom than we do now.


The best way to enslave a people is to convince them they are free. They just won't notice that lack of money (taken from them for more and more trivial things) fetters them just as surely as iron or steel.


"Intellectual" (*very* debateable) "property" (how can you own something that isn't there?) is perhaps the best way of harvesting citizens as revenue streams (although charging people for rainwater probably outclasses that, and casios and lotteries beat all).


How many "struggling artists" do you actually know? Ask them these questions:


1. Do they feel entitled to make vast amounts of money if they become popular? Is popularity the best measure of art? Has our society invested treasure in a moral, sustainable balance between education/health care vs. entertainment/porn? How did artists preceding the recent advent of IP enforcement survive? Should art be a vocation cloisered to a select group, or a part of any individual's enrichment?


2. How much of each CD sale even actually makes it to the artist? Sure, marketing and distribution of physical media are expensive, but why are those still necessary? The Internet certainly obviates the need for physical media distribution (at least between local communities). Marketing, brand loyalty, uneven regulation, and monopolies simply ensure that there is no true level playing field in a real capitalist environment. Only unbiased, untainted word of mouth would be of value in an art meritocracy.


3. Is DRM moral? When I want to play something I have purchased legally in a way not envisioned or explicitly allowed, should the artist provide free alternatives under the existing purchase license, or simply not care at all about their audience or if they will be able to play the content? If they do not care about their audience, should they expect to continue their success? Why should I not be able to copy a CD for my child to use harshly? Why should I be unable to play content on something made by a small company that cannot afford the exorbitant licensing fees absorbed by Sony, Microsoft, and Apple?


4. Can IP be enforced, or are audiences inherently theives?

DC Parris
2006-07-14 16:43:42
Um, I simply don't use software, music, or other media that restrict my freedom. Such things are useless to me, regardless of how "nice" the 'product' is.
DC Parris
2006-07-14 17:44:18
Caitlyn,
"Finally, I am not missing any point. I am not a Stallman-esque "Free Software" advocate by any means. Nobody should be forced to give away their software freely."


If you "get it", then why the comment about "giving away" software? If you haven't missed the point, you know it is about the f-r-e-e-d-o-m. There are four of them in the definition - and the OSI definition agrees with the FSF definition.


It really sounds to me like you value technology over freedom. That's your choice, but don't make the FOSS model about the freakin' money. Then again, maybe you don't know what the FSF charges for pre-compiled binaries.

joel
2006-07-14 17:47:29
I would love to hear how you equate my playing the DVDs that I have purchased with "ripping off people's code" -
Steven Brown
2006-07-14 17:53:00
Pathetic, defeatist attitude.

2006-07-14 20:56:55
Hello?
This is not big news.
Linspire has had a legal DVD player for quite a while.
Caitlyn Martin
2006-07-14 22:16:45
Joel: Playing you DVDs doesn't ripoff anything. Using unlicensed software which copies a licensed, proprietary codec does. Let's say I'm writing and later recording a song and I use a recognizable chord progression or melody or whatever that comes from another song. I can acknowledge it and pay a royalty for use. That is proper. I can rip it off and try to get away with it. Using a reverse engineered DVD codec is the equivalent of the latter.


Steven: I know of no, as in zero, businesses that a purely Open Source in their software selections. Nobody is going to hurt their business based on some vague ideal that software code should be openly accessable and freely distributable. Defeatist? I don't think we're on the same side on this one. Pathetic? Linus Torvalds declared, only half jokingly, that his goal for Linux was "world domination". You can't have that and take a purist attitude about what software can be used with Linux. People have to be free to use what suits them best whether or not you and the other zealots like it or not.


Anonymous: I wasn't aware Linspire had a licensed DVD player. Good for them. I may now have a reason to check out their distro as well.

Demokritos
2006-07-15 01:00:30
I equate closed software and their proprietary licensing schemes with the freedom of keeping slaves.
RangnaR
2006-07-15 01:05:31
Caitlyn Martin wrote
> I would love to hear how in the world you equate the struggle
> for racial equality with the right to rip off people's code.
> That should be interesting.


It is interesting that you neglect problems with the DMCA in such an easy way. It's a law and that has to be the right thing. No questions allowed. But ... Oh why are there high courts? Judical laws are not like physical laws. You can't travel faster than light. No way. But you don't bust in photons or pieces, neither by law nor by physics, when you're driving 56 miles an hour. Judical laws are nothing more than common rules by people that can and will change in time. Shure, most judical laws make sense in most cases. That would be another point.


Of course, you can actual steel computer code. But you can solve a problem with mathematics. Which is not only common sense, it's even the intention of education. Putting these maths into an algorithm should be as free as speach. There should be NO punishment via software patents when anyone with enough education can solve a problem with mathematics and common sense.


It's overbearance when you think that someone is the only living being able to solve a problem and should therefore be overthrown with gold.


You can pray to your new god of intelectual property, I stay with common sense.


2006-07-15 02:56:17
Caitlyn:
> First, the "DVD cartel" has never prohibited anyone from
> watching DVDs using GNU Linux or any other OS. What they
> did want is for the software to be properly licensed.


The "DVD cartel" does prohibit most people from watching DVDs. You can't view DVDs for the US-market in europe without having a special DVD player using the wrong region code. And another one for europe and another one for asia ... For the common people most DVDs worldwide are prohibited. q.e.d.


Any software using the GPL is properly licenced. You can even enforce the GPL in some countries. You can't make a point with that argument.

Caitlyn Martin
2006-07-15 06:51:38
> I equate closed software and their proprietary licensing schemes
> with the freedom of keeping slaves.


It is precisely this sort of illogical fanaticism that dooms Linux to being a niche OS. Thatkfully most companies doing Linux professionally do not subscribe to it and neither do most people who use computers.


My article, if you bother to read it, is NOT a defense of DMCA. I never said the law was right, just, or proper. It is the law and it has been upheld by U.S. courts in regards to DVDs. Period. Indisputable. Nor was my article meant to be a defense of intellectual property rights, which I happen to support.


Let's look at what I said:


1. There was no legal DVD player for Linux and that was an impediment to it's wider acceptance. Nobody has disputed that yet.


2. Now there is a legal DVD player coming out for TurboLinux and apparantly out for Linspire. My argument is that an impediment has been removed.


3. If you remove impediments to Linux adoption more people will use Linux.


I find it interesting that these positions castigating me for saying the above as a defense of intellectual property (which I support but did not defend in the article) comes on O'Reilly's web site. If I write a book for O'Reilly can you photocopy it and freely redistribute it? Can you sell copies yourself that you print? Nope. It seems to me that O'Reilly does nothing but sell intellectual property (books) which are propreitary and collect a proper fee for same when you buy the book at Barnes & Noble or Borders or Amazon. O'Reilly wouldn't exist without copyrights which are, in fact, intellectual property laws. I doubt you't get much support for eliminating those laws from the folks who own and run this website.


People shouldn't watch DVDs or listen to music encumbered by intellectual property rights? That argument will appeal to a tiny percentage of the population. Most people won't make such sacrifices, not now, not ever. Why should they? For an ideal they don't understand and don't agree with?


Finally, debating whether intellectual property rights are proper or not, just or not, or whatever is beyond the scope of what I wrote. Further, no appeal to pragmatism is going to work for those whom this has become some sort of crusade as the comment I quoted demonstrates. No, for some people relegating Linux to use by a few elite geeks is just fine. People like me who make money off of Linux, businesses who enslave people by daring to run proprietary software on Linux boxes, well... we're evil, aren't we? That's most of the corporate world that uses Linux.


Since when did making money become sinful? It's not.


2006-07-15 10:55:05
How often is this player updated? Will it handle DVDs encrypted with ARccOS? If I spend $40 on TurboLinux (not likely), what guarantees do I have that enough people will do the same to keep CyberLink interested in updating their product as new copyright protection mechanisms come out?


Of course, I have no guarantees for anything. I have no guarantees that it'll work correctly _now_. The way the entertainment industry and people who write software for it have treated us is ridiculous. Caveat emptor until the point where they buyer gets tired of being crapped on and goes another way.

madcap
2006-07-15 11:21:45
libdvdcss2 is GPLed code, means it has a license. And do u realize ur comparisons with the music artists don't hold any water? Most of the not-so-popular artists are releasing their music under CC. Have ya every heard of the Indie community? Yes, they existed before CC was here, but they still appreciate it when people share their music.


A lot of popular artists are against DRM too. Are the labels listening to them when they say "We dont want DRM in our music?" And if filesharing is ripping the oh-so-poor artists off, how about Sony paying the Allman Brothers less than 5 cents for every song that is downloaded from iTunes.


Laws that dont make sense are meant to be broken.


Maths permits multiple ways to derive a solution. So A invents a 2+2=4 and patents it (which don't make sense either), but A shouldn't be able to restrict someone who does a 1+3=4.

Brianary
2006-07-15 11:25:38
As for DeCSS, are we really talking about a complex algorithm, or simply a key? Is it really fair to call it proprietary when decrypting it is a requirement to access the paid content? Am I not allowed to open the celophane, either? Am I allowed to overclock my computer? Is no one allowed to make a better DVD player? Is this institutionalized monopoly the one that won't be abused?


> It is precisely this sort of illogical fanaticism that dooms Linux to being a niche OS.


Ad hominem assault. Classy.


> Thatkfully most companies doing Linux professionally do not subscribe to it and neither do most people who use computers.


Do you have any real evidence to support this claim? Can you even say that those in the sample of your personal experience have given serious consideration to this question?


> Period. Indisputable.


I live in a democracy (or at least a republic), where the law can always be corrected.


> Nor was my article meant to be a defense of intellectual property rights, which I happen to support.


Can you imagine a world where people are paid for *having once* worked instead of *working*? (Quite a scam; I can see why you support it.) Instead of going to work every day, can I just start telling them I plan to licensing my work to them? Will individuals ever be allowed to do something like this, or is this only acceptable for companies and corporations? IP constraints inevitably lead to the curbing of free speech (source code considered "contraband"), arbitrary boundaries of complexity (1-click ordering), and acedemic freedom (cryptanalysis of DRM), and even satire ("fair and balanced"). How is it OK to sell something to someone and not give it to them?


You seem to be of two minds reguarding IP: "Sure, I'm all for lobbying Congress and making DMCA go away." vs. "...intellectual property rights, which I happen to support."


> There was no legal DVD player for Linux and that was an impediment to it's wider acceptance.


How do you support this claim? My guess (full disclosure: and, yes, it is only that) is that few people play movies on computers. I doubt this was a significant impediment to Linux adoption. I'd bet that informal support (family and friends), Flash sound and performance, driver availability, simple MS Office support, and a host of other limitations rank much higher.


> If I write a book for O'Reilly can you photocopy it and freely redistribute it?


Comparing physical products with data is too big a stretch. O'Reilly provides a service: they print the books, better and faster and cheaper than I could myself. Data has a unique property: it can be copied perfectly without changing the original. If this were possible in the physical world, there would be no hunger or poverty. There are needs that can be served by data, though: education, communication, software, curatives (AIDS drugs, etc.). DRM seeks to rob data of that property that makes it unique and useful.


> Can you sell copies yourself that you print? Nope.


I probably could in China. ;) You do realize, of course, that this is exactly how open source works, right? Red Hat et al. don't write Linux as much as they "photocopy it" and "sell copies".


> It seems to me that O'Reilly does nothing but sell intellectual property (books) which are propreitary and collect a proper fee for same when you buy the book at Barnes & Noble or Borders or Amazon.


That's one view. But it's flawed. It does not take into account manufacturing and distribution costs, which are really what is being paid for. It isn't an arbitrary "license fee". Now, if you had mentioned Safari, that would have been a better point, but I don't buy a Safari license.


> O'Reilly wouldn't exist without copyrights which are, in fact, intellectual property laws.


You might want to review the history of O'Reilly. Many early books were largely made up of content that was freely available. Selecting, organizing, annotating, and publishing this content is the service people were paying for. As for the authors, O'Reilly simply serves as a patron to them.


> I doubt you't get much support for eliminating those laws from the folks who own and run this website.


That could very well be true. It might be worth asking. Though, I do notice the content on the website is made available under a Creative Commons license.


> People shouldn't watch DVDs or listen to music encumbered by intellectual property rights? That argument will appeal to a tiny percentage of the population. Most people won't make such sacrifices, not now, not ever. Why should they? For an ideal they don't understand and don't agree with?


"Not ever"? I considered you to be a pragmatist until I read this paragraph. First, it's elitist ("they don't understand"). Second, FSF/GPL/Creative Commons-style licensing is merely one licensing method and philosophy -- if you support Linux as "a better mousetrap" rather than as a philosophy -- why not accept the possibility that there can be good and bad content regardless of its legal or moral orientation?


> Finally, debating whether intellectual property rights are proper or not, just or not, or whatever is beyond the scope of what I wrote.


We are to ignore the implications of what you write, simply because you choose not to see them?


> No, for some people relegating Linux to use by a few elite geeks is just fine. People like me who make money off of Linux, businesses who enslave people by daring to run proprietary software on Linux boxes, well... we're evil, aren't we?


Straw man attack. "No single raindrop believes it is to blame for the flood." I doubt that you're evil. But all that is required for evil to triumph is for good persons to do nothing.


> Since when did making money become sinful? It's not.


Oh, OK. I guess that settles it. :)


This is another straw man attack. No one said anything of the sort. The patronage model worked just fine for hundreds of years. Once piano rolls were invented, artists started thinking they were entitled to certain guarantees. Software has complicated the field for some observers, but charging for consulting, support, and maintenance does not require IP. Indeed, this is how I understand most Linux businesses make most of their money.

Yes
2006-07-15 14:02:35
"What has TurboLinux done? They've partnered with Cyberlink to offer a fully legal, licensed, DMCA compliant DVD player for Linux."


What a coincidence. Cyberlink has also partnered with the manufacturer of my DVD drive, who pays a license for, and bundles a DMCA compliant DVD Player for Windows with every drive they sell. Now that a Linux version has been created, my DVD manufacturer should have no trouble bundling it as well. Will they not? This is wonderfull news, giving users an OS choice. Thank's Cyberlink.
Please direct us to the download page on the Cyberlink website, so we may download it for use on our GNU/Linux systems. Since we have already paid for their license (through the manufacturer)to use their Cyberlink DVD player, we would all be happy to be required to enter our original product keys from the Windows version of Cyberlink's Player that we now have, as proof that we've paid for a proper license. One I might add, that we've never been able to use.
Further, you can bet for a certainty, that GNU/Linux users will purchase only DVD drives that are bundled with Cyberlink's player. Smart move Cyberlink!!
This was what you good folks at Cybelink were planning to do was it not? You aren't proposing that we pay for a license twice (the bundled Windows version that we can't use, then again for a Linux version in the after-market)are you? That just wouln't seem just, or fair at all. If you are, in fact, proposing this, then your actions are quite simply shameful. At this juncture, you have the choice of becoming a "HERO" in the GNU/Linux community, or as SCO chose to do, becoming a "WHORE". We will never forget SCO. Don't forget, we are the "ZEALOTS". We work 18 hour days in pusuit of what we believe to be just. Wouldn't you rather have us all propmoting your brand name than the very unatractive alternative?


Thought I would give you something you might like to add to your rebutt Carla (tuxchic). The double licensing (paying twice) angle.

madcap
2006-07-15 17:54:26
Hey Yes!! That's a very good point you just made. I also got a CD with this Cyber Link DVD software when I bought the DVD drive. I've already paid for their license, now I want it to work, yeah *legally*, if libdvdcss is too *illegal* for them.
Yes
2006-07-15 18:03:37
Continuing on with my critique:
>I can hear the open source zealots advocates
"Open Source" advocates are the pragmatist within the GNU/Linux community, and have never been attributed with ZEALOT. Free Software advocates, we, the people who are primarily focused on the freedom aspects of GNU/Linux. Are the inconvenient, pesky bugger, ZEALOTS who keep reminding people that having a conscience, and being socially responsible when making buying decisions is not a bad thing.


>groaning and gnashing their teeth from here.
A poor inverted choice of a passage of scripture. Since the "weeping and gnashing of teeth" reference is directed at the n ere-do-wells, such as, in this case, individuals who are consumed by avarice (unhealthy love of money). And not at the people who are thanklessly trying to make the world a better place for all.


>First, like it or not, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is the law of the land in the United States.
This statement, however true, it is new law, still in flux, and hardly an issue that has fully played out. Certainly not so etched in stone that it's time to turn ourselves into a police state automatons repeating an OBEY,OBEY,OBEY mantra, as your comment seems to suggest.


2006-07-17 04:59:12
Caitlyn:


> 1. There was no legal DVD player for Linux and that was an impediment to it's wider acceptance. Nobody has disputed that yet.


I dispute that. I think your argument is bogus, and you have no data to back it up. You talk a lot about the "average user" and how they just want stuff to work; DVD playing under Linux has worked just fine for years and years. The average person also downloads mp3s of songs they haven't bought so I dispute that the average user is concerned about the technical legal status of DeCSS. As for corporate acceptance, which is an entirely different argument, how does playing Hollywood movies affect the case for Linux?


> A patent has to be upheld to be enforceable.


What are you talking about? A patent is enforceable the moment it is granted. You have a mixed-up impression that semi-combines patents and trademarks (trademarks must be enforced or you risk losing them).


> Using a reverse engineered DVD codec


Wrong again. The DVD codec is MPEG-2; CSS is a weak (40-bit) encryption system. Also, reverse engineering is legal and responsible for the computer industry as you know it today; re: the IBM PC and the clones. DeCSS is protected as Free Speech. The rationalization of making it illegal to decrypt a DVD you own is probably why there are no court cases where anyone has ever been prosecuted for it; please feel free to prove this wrong if you can.


The DMCA has NOT been "thoroughly resistant to court challenges" as demonstrated in the Lexmark and Chamberlain v. Skylink garage door-opener cases; it keeps getting tailored more and more narrowly which removes many of its teeth.


> Open? Proprietary? Let the market decide and let the best product win.


If you truly believe that, you must be against laws that artificially grant a monopoly, like software patents, which are anti-free market and anti-competition. The DMCA is anti-interoperability, anti-fair use, and anti-reverse engineering.


"Access controls" have nothing to do with copyright and are a horrible restriction on your right to use data you paid to use.


> It is the law and it has been upheld by U.S. courts in regards to DVDs. Period. Indisputable.


Oh my gosh, wrong again. All those cases have been dropped, lost, or dismissed. The original one was based on trade secrets, and another was overturned on free speech grounds.


http://www.afterdawn.com/news/archive/5020.cfm


In short, DVD playing under Linux is in a "grey area" where the MPAA is not even trying anymore; they have moved on to HD formats instead where they put the encryption in hardware.


> Playing you DVDs doesn't ripoff anything. Using unlicensed software which copies a licensed, proprietary codec does.


You misunderstand the whole issue. Ths is not a case of someone's hard work getting ripped off; not that reverse engineering is wrong anyway, but that's not even the point. The DVD-CCA came up with the non-codec CSS so that they could charge DVD player manufacturers a license fee; it's a shakedown, nothing more. The only plausible argument for "ripping off" has to do with copies of the DVD itself, and that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about watching DVDs you paid for, in the industry-standard MPEG-2 format, which have been scrambled by the DVD-CCA just so you have to pay extra for a key to descramble them. Imagine if you couldn't make a spare key to your own house because of the Spare Key Authority who got legislation passed so they controlled all spares.


>Y'all are purists. That's fine. You can have your beliefs. Just get >used to the fact that most of the business world, including myself, >do not share them.


You are a different kind of purist: one who willingly shackles herself to meet some vague ideal of legal purity -- on a single issue -- which is still disputable.


I also find it rather a strange issue to take that stand on, because $39 will get you a stand-alone hardware DVD player with a remote, which is much nicer than watching it on a computer; and if you want portability, you can spend a bit and get a mini player with LCD screen and TV-out. The main reason to watch on a computer is if you are going to capture stills or re-edit footage, which I am sure you won't because of the DMCA.


2006-07-17 05:11:47
> 3. If you remove impediments to Linux adoption more people will use Linux.


What's the point if your solution is to convert parts of it to be proprietary? Besides that, DVD playing is a non-issue compared to things like Word, Excel, games, and inertia.


> a defense of intellectual property (which I support but did not defend in the article)


You're mixed up as you don't even understand the different types of IP, so you obviously can't support them. In addition, one can make persuasive cases for copyright and trademark that simply do not apply to software patents. Almost every software company is against aggression via software patents and keeps them only for self-defense via mutually-assured destruction.


>People shouldn't watch DVDs or listen to music encumbered by
>intellectual property rights? That argument will appeal to a tiny
>percentage of the population. Most people won't make such
>sacrifices, not now, not ever. Why should they? For an ideal they
>don't understand and don't agree with?


It's ironic that this argument perfectly counters the argument of your article. Most people don't understand or agree with the DMCA and watch DVDs with any player they want (VLC is popular on all platforms) and download MP3s. Why should they sacrifice that to comply with some unenforceable gray-area legislation?


> Since when did making money become sinful? It's not.


Look up "red herring".

Caitlyn Martin
2006-07-17 22:41:04
For those of you who argue that DMCA isn't really the law, or that it's not settled yet, or that it's a grey area, or that the cases have gone in favor of the challengers to DMCA, here is a link that Tom Adelstein posted in the comments section of his article titled Not Yet. It's a summary of DVD/DeCSS cases by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, not exactly folks enamoured with DMCA. There are additional links at the bottom. I also fully agree with some of Tom's comments at the time:


Most of the activity lies below the radar because violators and accused violators tend to settle out of court. We don't see much published any more in the newspapers in the US because it backfired on the BSA. But they're still out there filing lawsuits and collecting money.


I don't want any of it.


Neither do I. Neither would most people, hence the need for a licensed DVD player for Linux.


I like the comment "...if libdvdcss isn't legal enough for them". Who is "them"? It is illegal in the United States, period. Ditto Japan and a few other countries. The fact that libdvdcss is licensed under the GPL is irrelevant. It's still illegal here.


To those who freely and openly admit they use Open Source DVD players once again Tom Adelstien's comment above is on point. I'll add one more of Tom's comments:


In the US, ignorance of the law is not a valid defense. Do you think disclosing on a public site that you're using illegal software is a good idea?


A lot of the commenters above aren't even ignorant of the law. Y'all willfully break it because you don't like it. I, personally, don't find DMCA, as distasteful and wrong as it is, as tantamount to living in a police state. I also am well aware that unjust laws can be changed or repealed, either through the court system or through lobbying and legislation. Sorry, guys, I'm no anarchist. I'm 100% with you if you want to work to get DMCA to go away through legal means. Until that happens I'm going to comply with the law. Y'all should do what you feel is right so long as you are willing to live with the consequences. Again, as Tom points out, there may well be legal consequences.


Despite the attacks by various commenters implying my article defends DMCA or DRM or software patents in general it does nothing of the sort. Again, I'm basically on the same side as most folks here in preferring the Open Source model. I also think DMCA is a wrongheaded law that needs to go away. I, however, do believe in intellectual property. That debate is way beyond the scope of this article and I'm not going to go into a long dissertation here.


At least one person claimed that since their computer came bundled with Windows DVD software from Cyberlink that they are somehow entitled to a Linux license now. They had really harsh words for Cyberlink, comparing them to SCO. Last I heard Cyberlink hadn't sued any companies to try and claim license fees for every copy of Linux out there. It's an apples to bricks comparison. (At least apples and oranges are both fruit.) Also, if you decided to buy your computer bundled with the Microsoft Windows OS and Windows software you bought a license for your chosen OS at time of purchase. You could have easily ordered a system preloaded with Linspire and it would have had your Linux DVD software license, wouldn't it? Having to buy a license for a different OS isn't paying double. You're buying different software.


Like Tom Adelstien I happen to make my living as a consultant, largely promoting and selling Linux solutions. As some have correctly pointed out I'm not selling Linux. Linux is free. I'm selling integration services, migration services, support, and training. I think that gives Tom and I a pretty good sense of the market, both corporate and home. Tom wrote in his article:


I wonder. If Linux could perform the functions available on the Windows desktop, then would we start seeing jobs for Linux skilled technicians? I think so. Instead of just desk side support for Windows, companies would need to support people for Linux too. That would cause some growth.


That, my friends, is the point of the article. A piece of functionality lacking from the Linux desktop, at least in terms of legal software, is no longer lacking. That will help with adoption of Linux. Those of you who argue that the lack of full blown multimedia support (or indeed any functionality Windows has that Linux doesn't on the desktop) isn't an impediment to adoption and acceptance of Linux are, in my view, pretty well delusional or out of touch.


Finally, I used the word zealot. Some of the commenters who attacked me took the ample rope I left out and hung themselves. The fanatacism for Open Source or the highway reflected by some of you is, in itself, an impediment to the acceptance of Linux by more users. Very few people, indviduals or businesses, are going to choose to deny themselves functionality based on how software is licensed and whether or not it's open. They just want their computers to work and do what they want. Those who argue that isn't so, again, are simply out of touch with reality.


2006-07-18 10:59:23
>At least one person claimed that since their computer came bundled with Windows DVD software from Cyberlink that they are somehow entitled to a Linux license now.


Nowhere in my post did I mention the "computer came bundled with Windows DVD software from Cyberlink". I specifically and intentionaly, framed the argument at the single "DVD drive" component. You, for your own puposes, have attempted to petty-fog the issue by moving the debate to "fully assembled computers".


For obvious reasons, (so users can use the drive for the purpose it was purchased), the DVD drive manufacturers bundle a legally licensed DMCA compliant DVD player with every drive they sell. Cyberlink, or any other makers of software that plays DVD's legally, must pay license fees upstream to legally bypass CSS encryption with their software. As you so stated, Cyberlink has now made a kosher version of their software for Linux. The idea that Cyberlink would need to pay for a separate upstream license for every software version they sell is a silly assertion on your part. They wouldn't need to purchase a separate upstream license for Linux, any more than they would need to purchase separate licenses for different versions of Windows (9x=DOS kernel 2k/Xp=nt kernel). The upsteam license only need be paid once for each DVD drive component.


In truth, I don't think that most folks care if Cyberlink grants retro-actively, permission to use their software on earlier versions of their products that didn't have the (non existent at the time)Linux version when shipped. I personally would have no problem purchasing a new DVD drive for this purpose, if it had the Linux legal player bundled along with the Windows version.

>They had really harsh words for Cyberlink, comparing them to SCO.


I did not have harsh words for Cyberlink! To say so is an absolute LIE!!, on your part. If you read what I said, I offered support and Kodos for their making a Linux version of their product. I then (in so many mords) asked the question. Will they play fair? Will they now bundle their Linux version along with their Windows version in the OEM supply stream. I then offered that "at this juncture" they will need to make a choice of doing what is fair, or go down the shameful, unfair path of nigardly double-dipping. I used SCO simply as an example of how not to proceed.


Finally, I can accept the fact that you may not aggree with my premise in this matter. There is (way)room for civilized debate. What I can't believe, nor abide in, is your twisting what I said regarding Cyberlink, to suit your purposes. To make me out to be an irrational, Cyberlink bashing "bad guy"!


If your arguments can't manage to stay afloat using the truth, then "GET OUT OF THE POOL!!"

Caitlyn Martin
2006-07-18 16:55:42
That just wouln't seem just, or fair at all. If you are, in fact, proposing this, then your actions are quite simply shameful. At this juncture, you have the choice of becoming a "HERO" in the GNU/Linux community, or as SCO chose to do, becoming a "WHORE". We will never forget SCO. Don't forget, we are the "ZEALOTS". We work 18 hour days in pusuit of what we believe to be just. Wouldn't you rather have us all propmoting your brand name than the very unatractive alternative?


That is called, in plain language, a threat. You are saying if they don't give you the software you want gratis then they are just like SCO. Sorry, my post about your comments stands unchanged and I certainly did NOT lie. I don't owe you any apology. Am I making you out to be a bad guy for issuing such a threat? You bet your bottom dollar I am! If you don't like it that's your problem. I find the tone of your posts totally unacceptable. I also hope you don't e-mail me privately again.


The fact that you bought your DVD player separately matters not one whit. You bought it bundled with software for Windows, which is used by over 90% of the desktop market. You bought it knowing what was bundled with it. You made a choice and Cyberlink owes you nothing. Native Linux software is substantially different from native Windows software. You want significantly different, less popular software for your machine -- and you don't want to pay for it.


If Cyberlink, as a gesture of good customer service, lets you make an exchange that's fine and dandy and may just be a smart business move on their part. OTOH, maybe it isn't. I can't make that judgement for them. I do know that if someone started a business relationship with my little company with a threat I'd tell them just where to go.


I agree with only one thing you wrote--your posts have no relationship to civilized debate.

Caitlyn Martin
2006-07-18 16:56:17
That just wouln't seem just, or fair at all. If you are, in fact, proposing this, then your actions are quite simply shameful. At this juncture, you have the choice of becoming a "HERO" in the GNU/Linux community, or as SCO chose to do, becoming a "WHORE". We will never forget SCO. Don't forget, we are the "ZEALOTS". We work 18 hour days in pusuit of what we believe to be just. Wouldn't you rather have us all propmoting your brand name than the very unatractive alternative?


That is called, in plain language, a threat. You are saying if they don't give you the software you want gratis then they are just like SCO. Sorry, my post about your comments stands unchanged and I certainly did NOT lie. I don't owe you any apology. Am I making you out to be a bad guy for issuing such a threat? You bet your bottom dollar I am! If you don't like it that's your problem. I find the tone of your posts totally unacceptable. I also hope you don't e-mail me privately again.


The fact that you bought your DVD player separately matters not one whit. You bought it bundled with software for Windows, which is used by over 90% of the desktop market. You bought it knowing what was bundled with it. You made a choice and Cyberlink owes you nothing. Native Linux software is substantially different from native Windows software. You want significantly different, less popular software for your machine -- and you don't want to pay for it.


If Cyberlink, as a gesture of good customer service, lets you make an exchange that's fine and dandy and may just be a smart business move on their part. OTOH, maybe it isn't. I can't make that judgement for them. I do know that if someone started a business relationship with my little company with a threat I'd tell them just where to go.


I agree with only one thing you wrote--your posts have no relationship to civilized debate. I at least sign my posts with my real name and stand behind my words.

Zeek Greko
2006-07-18 17:31:32
We will have to let the readers decide the issue. And, I have no problem identifying myself. As I made it clear in the email you refer to. Reprinted below.


Caitlyn, In fairness to you, the exchange in the
comments section of your article have become far too
heated and personal for me to continue to post
anonymously. I don't feel right about crapping on
someone's character and motivations from behind a
veil. This also identifies me as the author of the
earlier posts as "Yes/Anonymous".
Your, "We Can't Get There From Here" premise for Linux
has some very reasonable merit. I would have to say
that I partially aggree with you. What I think people
find grating is that you give the impression that we
should embrace the horror without protest. That we
shouldn't fight for the constitutionally protected
fair use rights that were skillfully worked around by
the media cartels, in collusion with "gum-ball
statute" paid-for politicians. If you'd like, we can
continue the debate privately, by e-mail. Also, at
your option, I will post the contents of this e-mail
on line. Or, you may post it yourself if you so
desire, to frame it in some particular fashion. In
any event, the primary purpose of this communication
is to, in fairness, Identify myself to you.


Background:
I have been involved with what I believe to be
multiple licensing injustices for quite some time.
This article, RIAA:Who Are The Pirates? Free And
Uncut! , was first published in August of 2003, and
republished a number of times since. Most recently on
DIGG. Your comments/critique would be welcomed.
http://www.digg.com/music/RIAA:_Who_are_the_pirates_Free_and_uncut_


Thank You For Your Time


Zeek Greko

Talor
2006-07-21 06:50:14
Um, I simply don't use software, music, or other media that restrict my freedom. Such things are useless to me, regardless of how "nice" the 'product' is.


I would love to hear how you equate my playing the DVDs that I have purchased with "ripping off people's code" -


You said what I want to say.

JustAnotherGeek
2006-07-26 07:09:54
The truth is that we have to, for the time being, deal with an unjust and unpopular law in which the legislature and judicial branches do not have the background in order to do something logical in this arena. One day the technical background will catch up and hopefully we will see laws like the DMCA disappear.


Since many distros are no longer offering bundled in media capability due to the threat of legal action, it is important that others take a lead role and deliver a needed product to the masses. Yes, the masses. Those who are not going to take the time to learn how to install decss on their own. They want everything to work out of the box or off of the CD with limited trouble. Or, at the most, have to double click on an exe file.


Does Linux need to grow into the home market? Who knows? I would love to see it though. Not because I hate M$ (heck their products help me make money since I have to support their software at work) but because I believe that it is the better option for users. Right now those users are going to be those willing to invest the time to learn something new. People with no clue ordering a box with Linux on it are rare.


I applaud TurboLinux for realising a need and seeking to fill it. Is there enough of a market for their product for them to be successful and for others to follow? I do not think there is, however, the consumers will decide. Either way it will not mark the end of OSS.