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Data Storage Media The Courts

Can You Be Sued For Helping Clients Rip DVDs? 231

DRMer writes "CE Pro has a series of stories that tries to untangle the legalities of DVD ripping in light of the recent RealDVD announcement from RealNetworks. In one of the stories, EFF Attorney Fred von Lohmann discusses the potential liability of those who resell or install DVD-ripping machines (the courts have yet to rule). Another article provides a rather amusing look at how manufacturers justify the legality of their products. Here's one example: 'We are just like Microsoft Vista that does not have a CSS [Content Scramble System] license.'"
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Can You Be Sued For Helping Clients Rip DVDs?

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  • Of course (Score:3, Informative)

    by Normal Dan ( 1053064 ) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @02:51PM (#24966729)
    You can be sued for anything. It doesn't mean you'll lose.

    But in this case, you just might.
  • by ccguy ( 1116865 ) * on Thursday September 11, 2008 @02:55PM (#24966823) Homepage

    You can be sued for anything

    Not everywhere. In Spain there must be some merit to the claim... if it doesn't make sense at all they send you home (ie the court can reject your filling).

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Informative)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @03:04PM (#24966959) Homepage

    It's called aiding and abetting and it's a crime.

    Absent a court ruling to back that up, it isn't anything. It's a hypothetical because there is no case law to establish anything.

    Note that copyright infringement is a civil matter. So, aiding and abetting doesn't apply.

    Maybe if you did it on a commercial scale, for profit, you could make that point. Helping people to install software to perform what is considered to be fair use ... that has yet to be determined.

    Would I want to make a business out of selling this kind of stuff without legal precedent? Nope. But, neither does your summary decision that it's a aiding and abetting a crime have anything to support it.


  • In theory.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by tinkerghost ( 944862 ) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @03:09PM (#24967025) Homepage
    I suggest you check exactly how many barratry cases have been prosecuted in the US in the last decade. Even Jack Tompson hasn't been charged with that yet. Although one lawyer did have to cough up for his opponent's legal fees recently.
  • by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @03:10PM (#24967057) Homepage Journal

    You can't necessarily sue for anything. An attorney can even be liable for bringing a frivolous case to court.

    And, in fact, attorneys can and have been disbarred from bringing frivolous claims to court.

  • Re:Yes (Score:1, Informative)

    by MistrBlank ( 1183469 ) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @03:30PM (#24967301)
    You don't own it.... you own a license to view what's on the disk. See how they get you there.
  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rude Turnip ( 49495 ) <valuation&gmail,com> on Thursday September 11, 2008 @03:34PM (#24967353)

    There is no such law that allows for one backup. I can make 100 copies of CDs that I bought and go skeet shooting. I am only breaking the law when I distribute those copies to others.

  • Re:DCMA (Score:3, Informative)

    by Repossessed ( 1117929 ) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @03:56PM (#24967683)

    CSS isn't really a copy protections scheme though, in fact it provides no protection at all against copying the DVD. I could easily distribute a .iso file over the internet that could then be burned to a DVD and played in a regular DVD player. I don't know of any precedent that says if DRM can legally be used to prevent space shifting but not copying though. So its definately a shakey argument.

    If you are going to set up DVD ripping for a client, it might be very wise to

    A) refuse to work for or sell ripping software to anyone who mentions using it for piracy, 'sharing' or probably the most common abuse, ripping rentals. Shouldn't be hard, most people actually *do* want to backup movies they really own.

    B) If possible, find, or modify existing software, so that it will only work on DVDs from the region the customer is in.

    Of course, you're still screwed if they try to sue you based on CSS being patented, so you may want to have a file prepared which covers the type of encryption CSS uses, when it was actually invented and who by, as well as any and all precedent that says math and non physical processes aren't patentable.

    This will pretty much cover your ass, until you realize the judge your standing in front of could give a rats ass what the law says, and is more interested in punishing you for being a pirate, whether you are or not.

    Standard disclaimers apply, IANAL, or a paralegal, I've not actually researched case law on this, and as I said above, the judge mat not give a shit what the law is, no matter how much on your side it is.

  • Re:Yes (Score:3, Informative)

    by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @04:03PM (#24967777) Homepage Journal

    You are circumventing technical measures for the express purpose of interoperability (with your backup software). Perfectly legal.

  • by Misch ( 158807 ) on Thursday September 11, 2008 @04:06PM (#24967813) Homepage

    "The purpose of a lawsuit is not to win, but to harass" - L. Ron Hubbard.

    Ironically, the largest fine under SLAPP went against $cientology, I think the fine was in the range of $500,000

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?