DeCSS – A Call For Action

The consumer beat DIVX, the consumer will beat the MPAA.

It is simple. Sort of. I have lived by a few short rules
in my life and here are a couple of them.

  • If software made it, software can break it. (a la encryption.)
  • Over controlling parents have kids who just want to break free.

Ok, so the 2nd one I just made up, but it is still true. The MPAA (Motion Pictures Association of America) decided a while ago that they would control DVD in a very strict fashion. This method of choice would be encryption, and regional coding.

The regional coding is set up so that if you buy a DVD player in Spain, you can only watch DVDs that you purchase in Spain. If you buy a DVD Player in North America, you can only play North American DVDs. This method of distribution control allows the MPAA to decide what movies, what versions of movies, and any other aspect of DVD gets distributed in which countries. So if you visit Spain, and find a classic movie on DVD that you cannot find in North America, too bad. You won’t be able to play it at home. For the average user, this coding goes unnoticed. That is, until you do buy a ‘foreign’ DVD.

This nifty regional code can easily be overcome with software. After all, it is just a ‘bit’ of data. If you have a newer PC and a high-end video card with a DVD-ROM you can indeed change your region allowing you to watch any movie you want. With DVD-ROMs being even cheaper than a component for your home entertainment system, this is a great way to overcome their control. ATI’s software is one of them that allows you to select your region during install. Although it states you can only change it 5 times, that restriction again is easily overcome with software. Why is the MPAA not uptight about this? If they are, why has it not been widespread news?

Ever since DeCSS came to life the MPAA has been up in arms. Why? They cried piracy. But that is false. DVD piracy is done at a higher scale, with high tech reproduction equipment that would cost a normal person both their arms and three toes. DeCSS is merely a program that allows you, the licensee of the movie to watch it on whatever platform you desire. Had there been a disclaimer on DVD packages that stated I was not allowed to watch these movies on specific platforms, I would have never purchased my DVD-ROM and Decoder Card.

They claim that the ability to decode the MPEG format from the disc and save it on your HD is wrong. However it is legal to make a copy of something you own for backup, using whatever method you choose. This case has been proven over and over again. They also want to control the player market. If there were more DVD players coming out, the price would drop and they would make less money from licensing and sales on overpriced equipment. If they could not control what we watch and where movies are sold, the price would drop. Again, on already overpriced movies. With cheaper players, and cheaper movies, could you imagine the sales numbers? Wow. This would be a good thing one would think.

I think if DVD movies were an average price of $20 instead
of $26 per movie sales would double. Just a guess, but it is more of a psychological thing with prices. People are used to VHS tapes for under $20, if the transition is easy then more sales will be made. Piracy or not. The software industry has survived yes? Even with the onslaught of free software, sales are still high. Even better yet, if you see a movie in the theater get a discount when you purchase the DVD! Wow, the marketing ideas are just running out of my head. But, it appears their marketing strategy is to sue whoever looks vulnerable. Pretty pathetic if you ask me.

Since the arrest and interrogation of Jon Johansen (the 16 year old who cracked the DVD encryption) I have been thinking a lot about the DVDs that I purchase. I love the technology. I have already purchased more DVDs in the past 4 months than I have VHS tapes in the past 10 years. I would just hate to see people as arrogant and controlling as the MPAA to screw it up. Ever thought that the whole DeCSS fiasco is going to affect DVD sales more than piracy ever would? I have been thinking that a worldwide boycott against any company affiliated with the MPAA is definitely worth the effort.

Rule number one of business, the customer is always right. We, hackers, non-hackers, movie fans, the consumers must stand up and fight. Inform people that do not know, of what is going on. Write letters to the MPAA, and their affiliates, tell them they are wrong. Write (nice) letters to non-affiliated companies and tell them what you think. Letters to the Editor, politicians, anybody! There is no sitting down on this one. It is wide scale and it is here.

Links of Interest

About SmartSsa

a mindless soul flushed down the toilet
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