If you’ve been reading my columns for a while you must’ve noticed that I’m not too keen on how the movie and music industry chooses to fight piracy, or rather, as many people view it, uphold their inflated profit margins. In an attempt to put a stop to DVD copying they’ve now targeted individuals that develop software tools that allow you to circumvent the copy protection as found on DVDs and make successful backups. I’m actually specifically using the word backups here as despite the grim scenario the industry’s watchdog, the RIAA, paints most people do not supply copies to the whole neighborhood but rather make backups of their own, expensive, DVDs for home use.
Again I’m stumped as to why they’re resorting to such tactics and honestly they could be in for a surprise. In most countries you’re allowed to make a backup for home use or archiving, which sounds like fair play to me, but also have a law which prohibits you from breaking the copy protection. So you’re basically caught between two fires, you’re legally allowed to make a backup but breaking the copy protection in order to do so is prohibited. In order to fix this juxtaposition we’ll need to have a judge decide which law has precedence over the other. If it is the latter then indeed corporate gain and profit margins are paramount and the rights of the individual end user further limited.
But there’s a catch, many publishers have now put into place a EULA which states that the content stored on a DVD is supplied on a loan basis, you don’t actually own it. Hence you buy the right to use, cq. watch the movie or listen to the audio tracks, but are not the rightful owner of the content. This creates a whole new discussion as when that’s the case, and for some reason the carrier of that content gets damaged, it doesn’t void your right to use the content. Hence the carrier, CD or DVD, should be replaced at no cost by the publisher, they cannot charge you again for something to which you already own the right to use. This would also soften the backup argument used by many somewhat as now the publisher will need to replace your faulty discs, regardless whether you used them as coasters or they suffer from a manufacturing defect.
Either way it looks like we’ve entered another chapter in this ongoing saga of the end user fighting for his or her rights and the movie and music industry protecting their profit margins. I can’t blame the end users for putting up such a fight, as honestly we’d like to have a say in when, where and how we use the content we buy, whereas the movie and music industry tries to frantically limit our choices and forces the end users to abide by their rules, which are motivated by monetary gains, rather than ethics. If they’d just lower their prices and adopt to market demand we’d be getting along a whole lot better, unfortunately that’s not going to happen anytime soon by the looks of it.