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Movies Media Your Rights Online

MIT Student Grills Valenti on Fair Use 1162

Posted by timothy
from the un-something-believable dept.
kcsduke writes "Following a recent speech at MIT on Movies in the Digital Age (streaming audio available), MPAA front man Jack Valenti sat down for a revealing interview with The Tech, MIT's student newspaper. In this entertaining read, Keith J. Winstein grills Valenti on fair use and the right to play DVDs under GNU/Linux. My favorite part is when Winstein shows a dumbfounded Valenti a six-line DVD descrambler he's designed, to which Valenti responds with language inappropriate for the Slashdot homepage. Throughout the interview, Valenti demonstrates his ignorance and misunderstanding of fair use."
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MIT Student Grills Valenti on Fair Use

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  • by joelparker (586428) <joel@school.net> on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @01:38PM (#8998196) Homepage
    He's a smart guy-- no one gets to his level
    without substantial skills and experience.
    And the MPAA is leagues ahead of the RIAA...
  • by PCM2 (4486) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @01:41PM (#8998240) Homepage
    Man, that would have been a great argument. It would have really made Valenti look like a fool ... if he was right [linspire.com], that is...
  • by molo (94384) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @01:43PM (#8998274) Journal
    qrpff.pl (beware slashdot's line wraping)
    $_='while(read+STDIN,$_,2048){$a=29;$c=142;if((@a= unx"C*",$_)[20]&48){$h=5;
    $_=unxb24,join"",@b=map {xB8,unxb8,chr($_^$a[--$h+84])}@ARGV;s/...$/1$&/;$ d=
    unxV,xb25,$_;$b=73;$e=256|(ord$b[4])<<9|ord$b[ 3];$d=$d>>8^($f=($t=255)&($d
    >>12^$d>>4^$d^$d/8)) <<17,$e=$e>>8^($t&($g=($q=$e>>14&7^$e)^$q*8^$q<<6) )<<9
    ,$_=(map{$_%16or$t^=$c^=($m=(11,10,116,100,1 1,122,20,100)[$_/16%8])&110;$t
    ^=(72,@z=(64,72,$a ^=12*($_%16-2?0:$m&17)),$b^=$_%64?12:0,@z)[$_%8]}( 16..271))
    [$_]^(($h>>=8)+=$f+(~$g&$t))for@a[128.. $#a]}print+x"C*",@a}';s/x/pack+/g;eval
    A discussion of this obfuscated perl program is here: qrpff Explained [plover.com].
  • by stratjakt (596332) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @01:43PM (#8998275) Journal
    TT: None under Linux. There's no licensed player under Linux.

    Except this one [slashdot.org]

    Man I hate it when a good zealot rant is spoiled by facts.
  • by That's Unpossible! (722232) * on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @01:48PM (#8998343)
    The article you linked to was posted 9 days after the interview. He may be a good engineer, but I doubt he's built a time machine.
  • by sweet cunny muffin (771671) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @01:50PM (#8998364)
    It's seven lines anyhow. http://perl.plover.com/qrpff/article-main.html [plover.com]
  • by aussersterne (212916) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @01:56PM (#8998454) Homepage
    From the page: Linspire DVD Player is compatible with Linspire 4.5 and higher. And from a page linked from that page: Note:
    Linspire DVD player requires Lindspire 4.5 or higher.


    I don't use Linspire. I use Linux. There is no mention of support for Linux, just endless mention of Linspire.

    Before anyone says "but it'll probably work with other Linuxes as well," remember that that defeats the entire point of the argument... alicensed player for Linux... This player is clearly not for Linux (i.e. the set of operating systems collectively known as), and I don't have any evidence without buying the product that the EULA even allows me to run it on anything other than Linspire.

    So I don't think this link or product particularly alters my reaction to the article, which was to applaud the student (even if he was a bit ham-handed) and to want to vomit on Valenti.
  • by kidgenius (704962) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @02:04PM (#8998588)
    I read the release, and scoured the site, and was unable to find any information beyond a press release on their site. They don't even have it in the online store. The version you are referring to is not for end users, but instead for embedded systems, much like intervideo's current player.

    Who needs PowerDVD Linux?
    A:Currently, PowerDVD Linux is targeting those IA(Information Appliance, such as Set-top Boxes) developers as an embedded software DVD playback solution. CyberLink is also looking forward to integrating PowerDVD Linux into various Linux distributions. The time frame will be early next year.

    2.Is there any trial version available for individual users?
    A:Trial version is not yet available for end users right now. Please check back CyberLink web site constantly and we'll publish related news once it is available.

    3.Do you have PowerDVD Linux retail version for we Linuxers?
    A:Not yet. Due to the variety of different audio and video hardware devices among systems , there are still many details we have to work out. For example, device manufacturer such as NVIDIA has not released their display drivers with Overlay support for Linux yet. That is why CyberLink can not release the retail version right now. We think it is not responsible to release any product until we can ensure the functionality, general compatibility and program stability when running our software.

    That was from here [lugos.si] and was also from 2000. Four years later, and we still have nada.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @02:05PM (#8998596)
    I guess you've never heard of kit cars [kitcars.com].
  • by stevesliva (648202) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @02:07PM (#8998625) Journal
    Six semicolons.
  • by platipusrc (595850) <erchambers@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @02:08PM (#8998636) Homepage
    Custom cars are pretty easy to get licensed in most states. Even in California it's not that hard yet, but emissions controls are getting more stringent...
  • by gearmonger (672422) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @02:20PM (#8998817)
    If you care about this issue enough to follow any of the links above, you should read Lessig's "Free Culture" [free-culture.org] -- hell, you don't even have to pay for it (available as a free download). It's an excellent read that clearly outlines both sides of the issue (including de-FUDding many of Valenti's statements).
  • by h4rm0ny (722443) * on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @02:22PM (#8998837) Journal
    A fellow programmer once called C++ a "write-only" language. I guees this could be extended to PERL.

    Nah, C++ is lovely. When you've been using it as long as I have you start to think in it. ;)

    A true "write only" language is brainfuck [muppetlabs.com]

    I was going to paste a sample program here, but /. just gives me a "please use fewer 'junk' characters" error.

    Ho hum.
  • by nelsonal (549144) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @02:27PM (#8998904) Journal
    There was a story yesterday about TurboLinux new distribution which includes, along with other media related things, a copy of PowerDVD. I'm not sure if it is actually availible for purchase, but it will allow licensed playing of DVDs.
  • by JasonUCF (601670) <jason-slashdawt@@@jnlpro...com> on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @02:43PM (#8999094) Homepage
    Um...

    However, fair use standards CLEARLY state that consumers are allowed to view copyrighted work however they please, as long as they have paid for it. There is no law or statute that allows copyright holders to force consumers to view their work only on certain devices.

    Where do they say this so clearly? I'm afraid you are only familiar with fair use rhetoric and not the actual law. Please consult EFF's Fair Use faq [eff.org] or better still Stanford's Fair Use [stanford.edu] resource page.

    To whit, all fair use legally defines thus far is the ability to briefly use snippets of creative work for one of 6 categories.

    The only legal extension that has occurred is under the VHS-Sony-Betamax court case the court argued that time shifting VHS material was a fair use.

    Outside of that there is no other fair use legalese language. It's all an "implied" sort of thing based on copyright law that has not been tested substantially in court.

  • by Robotech_Master (14247) * on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @02:52PM (#8999234) Homepage Journal
    ...Sigma Designs has a Linux DVD player, for use with its Netstream 2000 mpeg decoder card. I've used it. It's still in beta, could be better, but it works.
  • by bnenning (58349) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @05:31PM (#9001276)
    They produce the movies, it's their call. If they don't want you to be able to do thing 'x' with it, then you can't, it's that simple. If they require you to use a particular piece of hardware to view their movies, then that's that.

    Fine. Then they can refuse to sell me their movies, and only lease them to me if I sign away my fair use rights. But that's not what they do.

    They own the copyright on the movies. If you want to see them, then they have every right to tell you to view them, or not view them, in whatever way they want.

    Not true. Copyright does not entail unlimited control over how a product is used.
  • by dismentor (592590) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @07:30PM (#9002479)

    Bah! I call FUD. 'Intellectual Property'? Do you mean patents? There are no patents on the DVD-CSS. Do you mean trademarks? Those don't cover the actual implementation. Do you mean copyright? Reverse Engineering and Clean-room implementations of algorithms/interfaces are legal in the USA and, indeed, considered a fair use right. Do you mean 'Trade Secrets'? Trade Secrets are only protected in the manner that those who try to steal or acquire them by illegal means and those who give them when bound by duty of confidentiality are liable; I do not know of trade secrets being obtained illegaly and, indeed, the DVD-CCA have recently admitted that DVD-CSS is no longer a trade secret.

  • by Sloppy (14984) * on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @10:19PM (#9003672) Homepage Journal
    If it's only a licence, I've got that. I actually have a few spares.
    It looks like people are getting confused here. You're not talking about the right kind of license. The situation is more bizarre than you appear to think.

    DMCA doesn't say you need licensed software to play DVDs. It says you need authorization from the copyright holder, and doesn't say anything about the mechanics of how that authorization may be granted. If you buy a DVD and a consumer DVD player, notice that nowhere in any packaging for either item, will you actually find any license or any sort of statement that grants you authorization to watch the DVD. For all you know, it's illegal, and really the only evidence that anyone has otherwise, are hearsay statements from Valenti, and a lack of lawsuits so far.

    Note that this authorization must come from the copyright holder, that is, the MPAA member. It's not something you you get from the player manufacturer -- DMCA doesn't say anything about third-party agreements like that. The copyright holder of the movie (not the software you use to play it) is the only party you can get permission from.

    So when you talk about having already paid for a license, you're just talking about a license for some software. Not a license to play a DVD.

    The license Valenti is talking about is a license from DVDCCA for the former "trade secrets" that used to be necessary to play DVDs (All DVDs, not just the one you bought.) It's not a license from MPAA.

    Now here is where it gets weird: the only way that it can be legal to play a CSS-protected DVD on a DVDCCA-licensed consumer DVD player (but not legal to play with xine (which I admit that I do routinely, so come get me, Jack)), is if there is a "secret permission" implicitly granted by the MPAA to everyone in the world (even people who they haven't signed any sort of contract with, such as the guy you saw at Wal-Mart last week who bought a DVD), but that permission is conditional: you're only authorized to play this MPAA-member-copyrighted DVD on a player whose manufacturer got a license from DVDCCA. (DVDCCA and MPAA are in collusion to ensure that certain things will never be done by a DVDCCA-licensed player.)

    It's product-tying, pure and simple. The permission you get from MPAA, is a function of the permission that a third party (the player manufacturer) got from another third party (DVDCCA).

    (Wow.)

    Which explains why

    Every DVD drive I've bought was bundled with Windows DVD playing software.
    is irrelevant. Whatever licenses you got for using somebody's software, aren't a factor. MPAA doesn't care what sort of permission you got from some software manufacturer; they care what permission the manufacturer of whatever tool you use to play the DVD, got from DVDCCA.

    Presumably. Again, we don't actually know how (or even if) permission has ever been granted to any person to watch a DVD; we just have statements from people like Valenti, who say you're supposed to use a licensed player. And so far, no one has been sued by MPAA for watching a DVD on a licensed player, and no licensed player manufacturer has been sued for trafficking in a circumvention device. Thus, we infer it's legal.

    If that sounds like a convoluted and pedantic distinction, don't blame me. :-)

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