MPAA tries to squash DMCA exemption for legal DVD & Blu-ray copying

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has offered up a solution to myriad consumer requests to be able to burn copies of movies that they already own: buy another one or pay to watch it somewhere else.

MPAA tries to squash DMCA exemption for legal DVD & Blu-ray copying

Every three years, the US Library of Congress Copyright Office reviews cases for changing the existing Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)[PDF] legislation, and Public Knowledge has recently requested that the DMCA allow the legal copying of DVDs and Blu-rays that the user already owns, just as a consumer can rip a CD that they have already purchased. Today, the Motion Picture Association of America released a statement [PDF] to the Library of Congress citing the reasons for squashing any such allowance.

The MPAA states in their response: “Copyright owners include with many DVD and Blu- Ray disc purchases digital copies of motion pictures that may be reproduced to mobile devices and computers pursuant to licenses. Blu-Ray disc purchasers can also take advantage of “Managed Copy” services that are scheduled to launch in the U.S. later this year. Movie distributors and technology companies are also making available services such as UltraViolet, which enables consumers to access motion pictures on a variety of devices through streaming and downloading. Many movies and television shows are also available online through services such as Comcast Xfinity, Hulu and Netflix, or websites operated by broadcasters or cable channels, which consumers can enjoy from any U.S. location with internet access . . . [and] granting PK’s proposed exemption would be directly counter to the purpose of this rulemaking. It would undermine emerging business models that increase access to creative works in precisely the manner Congress intended the DMCA to promote.”

According to the law in its current state, anyone who removes or tampers with a DVD or Blu-ray Disc’s digital rights management (DRM) is a criminal in violation of the law and subject to criminal charges regardless of the circumstance.

If a consumer, who owns a DVD, wants to copy it to have another disc to play in a laptop, on another TV, or anywhere, the MPAA’s solution is to “access motion pictures on a variety of devices through streaming and downloading” the majority of which will cost extra money.

In many cases the movies (especially on Netflix where the movie studios shift around title availability incessantly) are not even available on streaming services. Just try finding Terminator 2 on Netflix or Crackle, it’s not there. Then go pay for another place that has it! That makes no sense.

The MPAA claims that allowing the copying of DVDs “undermine emerging business models that increase access to creative works.” Except one of the biggest uses for burning DVDs is for use in the classroom.

The US Library of Congress has a longstanding policy of not only allowing but also encouraging students, documentarians, and educators to be able to rip copyrighted content, such as music, for educational purposes like presentations or listening in music classes.

But if a student broaches a movie’s DRM, he or she is in violation of the DMCA and that could result in hefty fines and jail time for those who are successfully prosecuted, tried, and convicted related charges.

Up until a 2006 exemption in the DMCA, consumers could not legally burn CDs by removing restrictive DRM on their own discs, even when the anti-piracy scheme was over-reaching and seriously tampered with PCs without user permission. That’s exactly what happened in the infamous Sony screw-up with Sony BMG CDs carrying rootkits.

Public Knowledge is a lot more upfront with movie watchers than anything that the MPAA’s statement reflects.

PK says: Tell the Copyright Office that you own movies on DVD, you own devices with screens, and that you would like the ability to put those movies onto those devices without breaking the law.  Act Now: Tell the Copyright Office to Make it Legal to Rip DVDs here.