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RE: [dvd-discuss] Movie Downloads, automatically illegal?

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Tim Neu [mailto:tim@tneu.visi.com]
> On Wed, 31 Jul 2002, Ronald Austin wrote:
> > On Wednesday 31 July 2002 11:38 am, you wrote:
> > > Sorry, I have no sympathy for that kid.
> >
> > Neither do I, he might rent that movie from me if he didn't 
> download it from
> > the internet. I lose a lot of rentals from downloaded or 
> copied movies. If
> Does an internet download of a movie automatically gain 
> illegal status?
> We don't need to make the MPAA's argument for them!   Lets 
> take a closer
> look:
> Assuming:
> a.  Media shifting is an established fair use
> b.  The right to watch a movie is implicitly granted when a copy of a
> movie is purchased.  (if not, when do all legitimate movie purchasers
> become "authorized"?)
> For example, I have a laptop which is a little old.  It does 
> not have a
> DVD drive, but it is still fast enough to play a video file or a VCD.
> Now, I happen to own (as an example) Stephen King's "The 
> Stand" on DVD,
> but as I have said my laptop is not capable of playing one.   
> Converting
> the video myself would be decidedly inconvenient, since the movie is
> nearly 8 hours long.

Inconvenient or not, that is the fair use right you
actually have.  

> Is it illegal for me to download the movie from the internet 
> and burn it
> to VCD so that I can watch the movie when I take my laptop camping?
> (assuming the video is viewed in private and is not publicly 
> performed)

That depends upon the service ...
> Why, or why not?

Well, if a service run by the studio can allow you do download
the digital version after somehow verifying that you own it on
another media ... that's up to them.  It was the concept behind
one of the online music services (I forget which one) ... they 
would allow you to download the MP3'd content of a CD once they'd 
verified that you had access to the CD yourself, so in theory they 
weren't providing you with something you didn't already have access 
to, they were merely providing a convenience service.  (IIRC they
eventually got shot down ... but that argument _does_ sound like
a good place to start if handled correctly.)

Otoh, most pirate servers these days make no effort to control
access to the digitized movies by first checking to see if you
have a copy ... therefore _they_ are violating copyright by 
distributing something which they have no right to distribute
to people who quite likely don't have the space-shifting argument
on their side.  Hence: illegal.

> Does the legal status change if I have a DVD drive in the laptop?  

Mebbe.  (see above)

> home?  What if I just don't want to bring my valuable DVDs 
> with me to a
> public campground?

Then you don't watch them at the campground?

> What if I already wrecked a DVD of mine (leaving it in a hot tent,
> probably), and just want to obtain a replacement copy of a 
> movie I already
> own?

What about that book you dropped in the bathtub?  
What about that car that you drove into a ditch?

Replacement costs are on the consumer.

> It seems a little less black and white to me.

There are definately some _consumer_ issues to be dealt
with ... but as for the people currently _distributing_ 
the movies over the internet, it is black and white.  _They_
don't have the right to do that, regardless of whether we
can argue that you have the right to have it.

> > people like them they will make a VCD or buy a DVD. Either 
> way I lose,
> > the studios however don't lose much. That kid isn't likely 
> to drive 70
> > miles to watch that movie at the theater and his parents 
> are not going
> > to take him to the movies every week nor are they going to buy every
> > DVD that comes out. I stand here every day and listen to 
> customers say
> > that "so and so bought that DVD I'll just get him to make 
> me a tape of
> > it"... bang, one more rental down the drain.  Copying tapes and DVDs
> > hurt my business.
> They may, but that may not make them illegal per se.   The 
> problem in this
> whole thing is that MPAA & RIAA say copying=illegal and 
> everyone believes
> them without even considerting the situation.

Unless you are dealing with somebody who has the right
to give you a copy, then the copying _is_ illegal.

> Granted, a large number of uses are illegitimate, but so was 
> the copying
> in Sony v. Betamax, and now we have VCR+ codes.

Right.  That's why we want to be able to bypass
"technological protection measures" w/o being tossed
in the can ... because there _are_ legitimate reasons
for doing so.  Ripping your own DVD for space shifting
is one of them.

However, _distributing_ material that you do not own
the rights to is _not_ one of those legitimate uses.

-Richard M. Hartman

186,000 mi./sec ... not just a good idea, it's the LAW!