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THOUGHT: How copyright laws prevent me to get the full Digital Media experience
Posted by Arne Hess - on Monday, 13.12.04 - 21:37:41 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 8138x
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DRM and copyright laws are a pain, a real pain! No, not because it prevents users from illegally sharing ripped stuff through file sharing systems but because it prevents video DVD and music CD buyers from using the content how they want/planned to use it!

So the question is: does I bought the medium (in this case the physical DVD or CD-ROM) or the content? What happened (again) to make me posting this (again) on PPCW.Net?

  1. As you know, two weeks ago I was in Seattle for the annual Möbius conference and one gadget I carried with me was my Microsoft Creative Zen Portable Media Center. At home I have a couple of DVDs I've bought over the past months but I haven't found time to watch it (due to all my work and stress I have in my job). Therefore I thought it's a good idea to (simply) "copy" the DVDs (via my PC) to my Portable Media Player to watch the movies on the aircraft - the movies I want to see, not the movies the airline selected for me.
  2. I'm still building my Window Media Center 2005 Edition PC (I know, some projects takes forever) and another case is to store a couple of DVDs on the HDD of the MCE to simply select from via the remote control (without standing-up, walking to the MCE, putting in the DVD) and to simply start it.

Ripping/converting isn't such a problem at all, there are a couple of great (commercial) applications out there to get it done easily. I've decided to go with G Data's DaViDeo 4 professional (the professional version is available in German only) because it either copies or converts DVDs on the fly. So I thought to convert the DVD into a TV conform resolution (unlike in the U.S. we use PAL in most European courtiers instead of NTSC but the quality is near the same, maybe slightly better) to store it on my HDD (which I will move from my current PC into my close to arrive MCE) and to get it synchronized and automatically converted on the fly by Windows Media 10 with my Portable Media Center.

So far the theory but the reality - for us Germans is slightly different. Most DVDs and more and more music CDs are copy protected now and therefore G Data has to support this copy protection which means you can not convert it anymore - with the excellent DaViDeo 4 professional! So no legal way to make a digital copy to use it on my PMC! 8O

In fact, for me as a German it's completely forbidden to make copies, if a music CD or video DVD is copy protected; even if I can do it with (now) illegal software, (tools and utilities which where allowed to use before we got this change in the copyright law here) or with foreign software, which doesn't cares copy protection.
So I had three options: breaking the law, extracting the required .VOB files with free utilities to convert it later with DaVideo into the required (WMV) format, using an English software which doesn't cares the copy protection (here I'm not sure if it is allowed to use because "ignorance doesn't protects you from penalty") or letting the movie on the DVD and use my PMC (with video capabilities) as a MP3 player and for free movie trailers only.
But even if I wouldn't convert it for PMC use (case 1 above) case 2 isn't fulfilled yet - to have a selection of DVDs on my MCE PC because I plan to buy a Media Center Extender as well (at least the Xbox MCE Extender kit) which allows me to access content from my MCE thgough my TV, even if both are not "physically" connected and in different rooms.

And now? I'm not gonna tell you what I did but it really makes me wonder how these kind of copyright laws makes sense - in such a digital age. Everything is becoming digital and it is clear that the "Media Center PC" (in which kind ever - I'm not praising the Microsoft concept here) is the future. This Media Center PCs will become the center for contents - from digital music to digital photos but also digital movies and digital recorded TV. This, together with mobile devices like dedicated portable media players (like the PMC concept) or mobile phones/Smartphones and PDAs/Pocket PCs makes sense, especially because we get more storage capacities for these devices and we are on the move more and more. It's a cultural change - together with the digital revolution but the legislator, together with the industry acts like 20 years ago (when we used Commodore C64 home computer) and nobody had CDs or even DVDs in mind.
In fact, this behavior kills the digital development and revolution of companies like Microsoft who currently merge the PC with the entertainment equipment and flavor it with the mobile component but on the other hand, the legislative and the industry force us to use these smart devices in a traditional way.

And the user is always between the way how he wants to use the contents he paid for but have to fear penalties because he used ways to customize his digital experience which isn't legal in his part of the world. And now...?

Okay, I had this on my soul for the past two weeks and now I feel better ;-) but still haven't found an idea... :-(

Cheers ~ Arne


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Posted by Wolfgang Irber on 13.12.04 - 23:20:46


I am FULLY supporting every single word in your thought!

I am feeling the same pain, in my case with ebooks and the MS Reader :-(

When I started with ebooks, I though that's a great idea and did not care about any DRM automatically coming along. But now, after many cold starts with my PDA and re-installations, switching my notebook, changing operating systems, there are a couple of ebooks I cannot read anymore due to DRM issues. No idea why. There is even one I had problems with right from the beginning, I only could read it on my notebook, but not on my Pocket PC: just getting errors related to DRM messages.

Therefore, is it worth paying for electronic content, when nobody can guarantee you that you are able to read the content one year later as well? I even cannot borrow the ebooks to my girlfriend for reading on her Pocket PC without activating her MS Reader with MY account.

I fully understand that digital content needs some protection, but how far do they have to go with it? Till even the legal buyer is not able to access the content anymore?

It's time for a smart solution without THAT MUCH PAIN for the legal buyer!

Servus ~ W

Posted by Nok on 14.12.04 - 06:06:23

Hello Arne,
One small note : DaVideo 4 Pro is also available in Japan (localized version) as well as in Germany.    :wink:

Posted by Arne Hess on 14.12.04 - 09:01:40

[2] Good to hear that you guys got it also. Sorry, but never investigated the Japanese availability. All I checked was English availability and there it looks like the "non-pro" version is available only.
Anyway - I love it since it is an easy to use but powerful tool.

Posted by Arne Hess on 14.12.04 - 09:29:38

[1] True! As I said, I'm fully aware and support the idea that copyright owners needs protection of their copyright material but the way we have it today makes me thinking if it drives people to file sharing more?
I mean if I can not get my own stuff (I've paid for) converted myself because either it's illegal or technically difficult for Joe User, isn't it easier for him to go to file sharing systems to get it downloaded from there?
The current way of copy protection does one thing only: preventing the regular user from copying the stuff but not the experienced user. The experienced user will always find a way to do it and to share it. On the other way, even for the regular user it's easy to get access to file sharing.

It's a kind of weird business decision from the industry and I have the fear that the politicians have no clue what they are talking about or voting for.

Posted by Frank on 14.12.04 - 12:08:29

Arne (& Wolfgang as well), yep, I share the pain and the frustration. It's the legal customer that is penelized by the media industry while the illegal user doesn't care right from the beginning. So what's to come here - and I think my outlook is not very optimistic.

The question what you "own" is . I think the understanding of the media industry is that you may own a DVD and use it as a DVD, but you're not entitled to use it in any other way. They think you do not own the right to convert it. That of course puts an end to Portable Media Centre and other concepts like that - except you're not happy to use it just for the movie of yourself while shaving in the morning  :wink:

What will that lead to? I see two options:

Either the media industry starts to understand that modern world knows different way to reproduce media content, but I think they're way to scared that they miss out on 2 cents to charge customers again.

Or - and unfortunately I think that is more realistic - we will have to learn in the near future that we're not buying content anymore, but pay for every usage that is delivered to us anywhere and anytime. So from a perpetual model to a subscription one... Wanna see a movie or hear a song? Access it and see it once - after that it's expired. Wanna see / hear it again? Pay again.

But that's just my 2c.


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