[MPlayer-users] Request for assistance, playing my HD-DVD movies

Phil Rhodes phil_rhodes at rocketmail.com
Sun Feb 22 04:49:39 CET 2009

Actually Sarah raises an interesting point.

People have certainly been clobbered for duping stuff they don't own. People 
have also been criminalised for owning devices designed to circumvent copy 
protection with no real evidence of intent or misuse. I'm not sure that 
anyone has ever actually been hit for using one to play a movie they 
legitimately bought, though I don't doubt that the studios would do it in a 
heartbeat if it suited them.

The problem with this sort of thinking is that it panders to the 
oh-it's-OK-really mentality. The DMCA in the US is (by design) appallingly 
open to abuses of power, in much the same vein as recently-introduced 
anti-terrorism laws in the UK which more or less place the police above any 
form of restraint or redress. This is why people react badly to it - because 
it sets up a dangerous set of circumstances which could indeed lead to five 
year old kids, or at least whoever signed the internet service provision 
form, becoming responsible for what in many people's mind are non-crimes.

I make my living out of film and TV and I have an intimate familiarity with 
the need for copyright, but even I'm beginning to question some of the stuff 
that's going on. It's long been said that copyright laws are only tolerated 
because they're so poorly enforced, and I think this state of affairs is 
dangerous, and has been allowed to continue for far too long. Most places 
don't formalise fair use nearly enough. From the other perspective, as a 
practitioner, I see almost none of the real profits from the material I work 
on. Things need to change before a lot of the common reasons given for 
copyright law really become valid.

In any case, the real problem here is that the US is gradually becoming the 
world's first corporate state. Don't get me wrong, I like the US. I like to 
go there, I have a good time when I do, the people are friendly and 
generous, but the government is increasingly owned by industry and that is a 
disaster. It's much the same here; Tony Blair now makes seven million a 
year, clearly on the basis of things he did while in office, at the behest 
of corporate sponsors. That's how appalling law gets made and this is a 
problem way beyond the politics of copyright and open source software.


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