What is the MPAA and who are the members?
The MPAA is the trade association for the motion picture industry. The members of the MPAA are: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc. (The Walt Disney Co., Hollywood Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Miramax Films Corp.); Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, United Artists Pictures, Orion Pictures); Paramount Pictures Corporation; Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. (Columbia Pictures, TriStar Pictures); Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; Universal Studios, Inc.; and Warner Bros., a division of Time Warner Entertainment Company, L.P.
What is the DVD-CCA?
The DVD Copy Control Association (DVD CCA) is a not-for-profit corporation with responsibility for licensing CSS (Content Scramble System) to manufacturers of DVD hardware, discs and related products. Licensees include the owners and manufacturers of the content of DVD discs; DVD replicators, creators of encryption engines, hardware and software decryption devices, and manufacturers of DVD players and DVD-ROM drives.
What is the DVD Content Scramble System (CSS) and how does it work?
CSS is the copy protection system adopted by the motion picture industry and consumer electronics manufacturers to provide security to copyrighted content of DVDs and to prevent unauthorized copying of that content. CSS is akin to the lock on your house.
Anticipating what digital technology meant for anti-piracy efforts, the film industry relied on the security provided by CSS in manufacturing, producing and distributing to the public copyrighted motion pictures in DVD format. Those motion pictures, many of which involved investments of tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars, were distributed on CSS-protected DVDs.
CSS allows consumers to enjoy the benefits of digital entertainment because the motion picture industry is able to issue their films on DVD while at the same time preventing massive piracy of their copyrighted works. De-encryption destroys this protection, which is why distribution of de-encryption devices were formally prohibited in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
What is DeCSS, and how does it work?
In late 1999, a small group of hackers in Europe worked to descramble the CSS encryption system for DVDs and created an unauthorized software utility commonly referred to as DeCSS. A computer that has the DeCSS utility can use it to break the CSS code on DVDs making it possible for motion pictures in DVD format to be decrypted and illegally copied onto a computers hard-drive for further distribution over the Internet or otherwise, in perfect, digital format. DeCSS is akin to a tool that breaks the lock on your house.
What is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and how does it apply to DVDs?
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed by Congress on October 12, 1998, and signed into law two weeks later by President Clinton. The DMCA is designed to implement World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties signed in December 1996 in Geneva.
The Act strengthens the protection of copyrighted materials in digital formats, such as motion pictures on DVDs, by outlawing the manufacture, importation or distribution of devices, programs or services that circumvent technical protection measures that restrict access to or prevent infringement [copying] of copyrighted works. Thus, it prohibits anyone from distributing a software utility designed to circumvent the CSS technology used to protect DVD software.
These provisions of the DMCA formed the basis of the motion picture industrys successful lawsuit seeking an injunction against three Internet websites in New York that were posting the DeCSS utility for download by visitors to these sites. DeCSS fits the definition of an unlawful copyright circumvention device as defined in the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Why is the motion picture industry opposed to distribution of the DeCSS software?
The motion picture studios position on copyright protection is not a new one. Copyright protection is a principle established in the United States Constitution and has long been recognized as essential to promote the creation of all forms of new books, magazines, newspapers, computer programs, motion pictures, television programs and other works from illegal use and copying.
In order to protect these rights in the least intrusive manner, motion picture studios have used copy protection methods on their videocassettes such as Macrovision. Similarly, for example, satellite television services use encrypted signals to prevent their signals from being received by non-subscribers. The motion picture industry similarly always has been opposed to, and has pursued those who distribute, devices that break copy protection including illegal "black boxes" to defeat Macrovision and illegal "smart cards" that allow illegal access to satellite television.
Doesnt the DMCA allow reverse engineering for compatibility, for example to allow playing of a DVD on a Linux operating system-driven personal computer?
The DMCA does allow reverse engineering. However, the reverse engineering provisions in the DMCA were never intended to enable anyone to circumvent technical protection measures (TPMs) for the purpose of gaining unauthorized access to or making unauthorized copies of copyrighted works.
The DMCA does allow a lawful user of a computer program to circumvent TPMs to ensure that the program can work with other programs (interoperability); and, with strict limitations, the research may be shared with others, as long as it does not infringe the copyright in the original or a related work. However, reverse engineering is not permissible if there is a readily available commercial alternative for that purpose. In this case, there exist MANY commercially available DVD players.
Why is piracy such a major concern?
Piracy has always been a problem facing the creative arts, going back to the origins of copyright law in the 1700s. Concerns about unauthorized use of creative works underlay the origins of copyright law in the 1700s. Artists, writers and performers must be protected from unauthorized use of their works if they are to support themselves from their art and continue produce and distribute new works. The motion pictures and television shows that the film industry produces are the result of the efforts of hundreds of thousands of individuals it employ - from grips to gaffers, to writers, actors, directors, stunt people, carpenters, and film editors. Distribution of their works involves the efforts of distribution company personnel and the many employees of theaters, video stores, television networks and stations, advertising agencies, newspapers, duplicating facilities, shipment companies, etc. Each individuals livelihood depends on the ability to sell these creative products, not to have them stolen.
Unabated, piracy can destroy the legitimate marketplace for consumers and stop the development and distribution of new works. In some areas of the world, video pirates have driven legitimate video merchants out of business, leaving consumers with no choice but to buy inferior pirated versions of motion pictures.
There seems to be extraordinary concern about piracy at this time. Why?
Digital technology allows perfect copies of motion picture to be made, not just from original masters, but from copies. The 1,000th copy of a digitized movie is as pure as the original, whereas in analog formats, each successive copy is degraded in quality.
The development and distribution of DeCSS may lead to widespread digital video piracy. Currently, the impact of hacks such as DeCSS is limited by the amount of time needed to download a full-length motion picture over the Internet. However, as the bandwidth of the Internet increases rapidly, the ability increases for pirates to create perfect, illegal digital copies of movies from DVDs using the DeCSS utility and to post those copies on websites for download by Internet users all over the world.
How can the motion picture industry expect to control piracy in the digital age?
The motion picture industry, and indeed the entire creative community, including music, publishing, and fine arts, have been battling piracy and copyright violations for decades, in the United States and internationally. We can never abandon the fight to preserve intellectual property rights, just because it is difficult. The stakes are too high. Should law enforcement stop fighting crime just because efforts are difficult?
Some say the CSS encryption was easy to hack, and therefore the industry is at fault. Is this true?
There is no such thing as a perfect encryption system that is immune to hacking. Newer and tougher copy protection systems are in development, but we acknowledge that determined thieves will attempt to bypass these protections as well.
However, the fact that a lock is possible to pick is no excuse for burglary. To the same effect, the fact that circumvention of copy protection devices is possible does not make these actions legal. If a home-owner employs an inexpensive alarm system, is the burglar any less accountable for his crime than the one who breaks into a home with an expensive, sophisticated system? Individuals still should be held to account for their invasion of others property and their refusal to observe the law.
Are there other software packages besides DeCSS available for decrypting DVD movies, and if so, is the MPAA attacking them as well?
There are no legal software packages available for decrypting DVDs.
I hear that DVD pirates dont even need DeCSS to make illegal copies. Pirates can easily obtain hardware that can copy DVDs. So why are you taking action?
The fact that there may be multiple ways to violate the law does not make DeCSS any less illegal. The MPAA attacks numerous forms of piracy in different ways worldwide. MPAA is actively pursuing enforcement actions against all illegal means to copy and distribute DVDs.
If I can make an audiocassette copy of a CD, or a VHS copy of a television broadcast, why shouldnt I be able to make a copy of a DVD that I own?
Copyright law and the U.S. Supreme Courts 1984 "Betamax" decision provide for "fair use" of copyrighted material. For example, scholars and critics can quote lines from a book in a review without fear of incurring copyright liability. Or, a soap opera fan can tape an over the air TV show during the day to watch later that night under the Betamax decision, an unscrambled broadcast can be copied for this type of "time shift" personal use.
BUT "fair use" is not an open-ended concept. It does not justify any action an individual may take with a copyrighted work, whether they have purchased the copy or not. It is a right to use what is available, not a right of access to works for fair use purposes. For example, the law has always recognized that a show sent by scrambled pay-per-view signal may not be viewed or copied through the use of an unauthorized, illegal descrambler. The owner of the signal has and has always had -- a legal right to scramble the signal to prevent unauthorized access to the signal for viewing or to make copies of the show.
Most importantly, this concept of fair use does not override specific statutory enactment such as the DMCA, which are intended by Congress to give clear protection to the rights of the creative community to use technological means to protect its product. It is this protection which has enabled the motion picture industry to launch new products in digital format, such as DVDs.
It costs twice as much to make an illegal copy of a DVD as it does to buy a legal one, so why is the MPAA worried about DVD piracy, when its not financially viable?
No one knows how long the costs of copying a DVD onto another disk will remain expensive, or whether disks would even be the most likely pathways for digital piracy. Current high costs associated with copying DVDs are likely to drop dramatically at some point in the near future.
However, questions like this miss the point. Under the law, a copyright owner has the right to control access to and use of its creative products. It does not matter if it costs $1.00, $5.00 or $500.00 to steal or misuse a work. Regardless of cost, it is still wrong, and it is still illegal.
Some computer users say they only want to use DeCSS to view their DVDs on computers that use the Linux operating system. Windows- and Macintosh-based computers can play DVDs, so is it fair to deprive the Linux community?
The Linux argument is a false issue. It has always been in the interest of the Motion Picture industry that there be as many legitimately licensed DVD players as possible, including those using non-Windows operating systems. However the argument that DeCSS was written for Linux players is simply false. The De-CSS utility was written for Windows-based software, not Linux.
Also, the development of two, separate, licensed DVD players for Linux systems - which use the CSS system - were recently announced. Sigma Designs (www.sigmadesigns.com
) and InterVideo Inc. (www.intervideo.com
) both announced the roll-out of LICENSED, LEGAL Linux-based DVD players.
Dont consumers have the right to view their DVDs on the operating system of their choice?
Consumers looking for the DVD experience have many options from which to choose. A wide array of DVD players has been licensed for the consumer market. Companies ranging from Sony to Toshiba, Panasonic to Creative Labs, make DVD players that plug into television sets, work on PC or Macintosh platforms, or fit into palmtop devices. These manufacturers all have one thing in common: They applied for and secured a license from DVD-CCA to use the CSS technology.
Buying a DVD does not grant the purchaser the right to violate copyright protections enjoyed by the creators of that work, nor to use software that circumvents copy protection.
Do the MPAA lawsuits against those who are distributing DeCSS violate the First Amendment? Doesnt the right to free speech include the right to distribute computer code?
The First Amendment protects free expression. The motion picture industry has always been zealous in its determination to protect free expression and has always fought hard to ensure that our creative artists have the freedom to create their own vision for a film, unfettered.
However, not every word and not every form of computer code is protected by the concept of free expression embodied in the First Amendment. The law has long recognized that words can be criminal acts and that such "expressions" are not entitled to First Amendment protection. No one could deny, for example, that the words "give me all your money" are a form of expression, but when spoken to a bank teller while holding a weapon, they are simply the ultimate step in the act of robbery.
DeCSS is not intended to convey opinions. While it uses computer code, its sole function is to circumvent copyright protection and gain unauthorized access to the creative works of others. DeCSS is simply the "lock pick" in the high tech crime of breaking into another persons digital property. The First Amendment provides no protection for such conduct.
Does this "hack" affect consumers in any way?
Absolutely. Copy protection encourages people to continue to strive to make new and better creative products. Consumer choice determines which creative products succeed and which fail. However, if the industry cannot protect its copyrighted material, the creative community will have less incentive to produce and distribute more motion pictures and television shows. As a graphic example of the impact of the DeCSS hack, the rollout of DVD audio which was to have relied on the CSS system -- was indefinitely postponed because of the proliferation of DeCSS, depriving consumers of the choice of this new higher quality audio format.
What does the motion picture industry hope to accomplish with its lawsuits against people distributing the DeCSS software?
The motion picture industry believes it is essential to maintain a climate of respect for the law and for the rights of others, where legitimate businesses can compete openly and can be judged based on the quality of their products. We hope to reinforce the long-standing principles of intellectual property rights and the importance to the creative community of such rights.
Have the defendants actually used DeCSS to make illegal copies?
It is irrelevant whether or not the defendants were personally engaged in making illegal copies. They are clearly "providing the keys to the castle," which is in violation of the anti-circumvention provisions of the federal copyright law.
Why are DVDs coded differently for different regions? Why shouldnt I be able to play a DVD that I bought in the U.S. on a player in France?
Regional DVD coding has nothing to do with encryption. Encryption is designed to protect a DVD from being copied. Regional coding only requires that the DVD be played on a DVD player made for one of the large international regions of the world in which that consumer lives.
Regional DVD coding was devised to protect the theatrical distribution market for motion pictures in international markets. It is simply impossible with present technologies to supply film prints of a movie to all of the theaters around the world at the same time. Motion pictures released by the major studios are generally released first in the Untied States and subsequently overseas. For this reason, motion pictures are released to theaters in countries in a "staggered" sequence. After the theatrical exhibition of a motion picture in a particular country, it is then released to the pay-per-view, video and television markets. DVDs are regionally coded to prevent them from being imported into countries where the motion picture has not yet completed its theatrical release. Without such protections, motion picture theatrical distributors and exhibitors abroad could lose a significant portion of their audiences to advance DVD viewing. The lost theatrical revenues could result in theater closures, lost jobs, depriving consumers throughout the world from seeing motion pictures on the big screen. A similar impact has occurred in some worldwide markets where illegal imports are unchecked.