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[FYI] DVD und Open Source

>From: "Frank T. Lofaro" <ftlofaro@cs.unlv.edu>
>Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.hardware,comp.os.linux.misc,comp.os.linux.development.system,comp.os.linux.development.app,comp.os.linux.advocacy,misc.legal
>Subject: Intellectual Property DANGER! (Re: DVD driver)
>Followup-To: comp.os.linux.hardware,comp.os.linux.misc,comp.os.linux.development.system,comp.os.linux.development.app,comp.os.linux.advocacy
>Date: 21 Nov 1998 08:01:55 GMT
>Organization: University of Nevada, Las Vegas
>Message-ID: <735s1j$ge0$1@lazy.cs.unlv.edu>

In comp.os.linux.development.system chang <chang@newton.umsl.edu> wrote:
>Anyone knows how to write a driver for HITACHI DVD?   (GD-2000)
>Where should I start with If I can work on that?

There are very _*BAD*_ things afoot in DVD-land!

(at least for DVD-Video playback applications, other stuff MIGHT be
relatively safe, for NOW)

Sorry for the following rant, but Linux might be *forever locked out*
of DVD-Video applications. And if DVD-Players stop being made in lieu
of computer solutions sometime down the road, people would need
Windows or some non-free OS to view DVD-Video. Microsoft Windows 98 is
allowed to read DVD Video, it appears... Microsoft is the only PC DVD
solution - a monopoly enforced partially by law here - ironically even
as they (MS) fight with the DOJ for anti-trust/monopoly practices -
and it isn't Microsoft, but our own gov't that is at fault for this
DVD mess (that and the DVD consortium)

There are tons of patents not only on the hardware, but also on the
MPEG-2 video encoding for DVD video. No apparent provision for free
licensing for free products - so you'd require mandatory minimum
royalties - and free source would allow people to avoid that - so you
could be guilty of contributory patent infringement - courts can levy
actual damages, profits, and statutory damages in any event. So even
with no dollar value of harm to anyone, an no profits, the courts can
STILL levy monetary damages against you.

And then there is Content Scrambling System. And copy protection
systems. And those new laws!

Many (Most? All?) movies are _ENCRYPTED_ (yes you read that right, I
was shocked when I found out) so they are unintelligible digital
gibberish without the right key. Which you only get (I think, I am
very unclear on the details) if you "play nice", which means implement
copy protection and regional lockout (so much for global information!)
of disks (which are encoded to only work in one region - this is not a
technical problem, but a "feature" added to the spec to appease
Hollywood). The Digital Millennium Copyright Act doesn't require
implementation of copy protect (it but does FORBID circumvention or
anything which would cause copyright management info to be lost,
intentionally or not, (so not having copyright support COULD be
illegal under this provision, even if it isn't explicitly _in and of
itself_ illegal) or even something which could facilitate that), but I
think in order to get the decryption keys, etc you'd need to sign a
bunch of agreements to implement that stuff and sign NDAs (another
blow to open source - NDAs forbid discolsure, hence forbid open
source). Also the copy protection requires more patents. (read the DVD
FAQs, look at www.mpegla.com, I am not making this all up!)

You might be able to not implement Content Scrambling System and avoid
all this stuff, but then many/most/all video DVD disks would be
utterly indecipherable (literally). Since you couldn't read copy
protected stuff you'd have a lot less legal problems (can't
violate/circumvent protection on disks you can't even read!) to worry
about on your now less than useful product (Digital Video Doorstop, in
this case)

(anyway, this is all precedent setting - CD's do *NOT* have these
"features" DVD-Audio might kill off CD's and we might have the above
mess there too - "open" content is dying on the vine!)

An important reason an open-source DVD-Video implementation would not
be tolerated: it would be easy to modify to defeat copy protection
(it could be made to decrypt and copy). Also, anything on Linux means
the kernel could not be trusted to "protect" the "rights" of the disc
content owners (under Windows, users can't change the OS to get around
copy protection schemes - under Linux, those with the root password
are gods).

And if you somehow reverse engineered and found the key, you would run
afoul of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act anti-circumvention
clause and would be liable for damages, including minimum statutory
damages which WOULD be levied if the copyright owners (of anything
infringed using your product) so chose. Or any profits you make or any
harm they can convince the court they "suffered". This might apply
even if you didn't allow _YOUR_ implementation to circumvent the copy
protection. See, so many people would use your source (the users could
just remove/disable the copy protection - your act of publishing the
source code is "contributory infringement" since it aids that
activity) to circumvent protection that the courts might consider
circumvention the "primary purpose OR EFFECT" (actual language from
the law) of it, and since open-source/linux kernel is freeware, you
might not be considered to have "COMMERCIALLY (*) [yes the law makes
this distinction!]  significant" non-infringing purpose. All the
honest users might be considered to not be commercially significant,
and thus _NOT_ a defense against this charge.

(* Why not just have the law say "significant non-infringing use"
without the commercial qualifier? A strike against "untrustworthy,
un-American, bad" free software???)

Some of the provisions in the law would allow the gov't to steal and
blow up your computer (sorry, impound and order the remedial
modification or destruction of your computer) or even brand you a
convicted felon. The "No Electronic Theft Act" makes that much
easier. You don't even need to be making money off your actions.
Financial gain according to copyright law need not make you any money
(they redefined the term-read the law!) and is no longer a necessary
condition (but is a sufficient condition) for allowing felony

Contributory infringement is not even mentioned as being against the
law _according to 17 USC_ (read it!
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/) but people have still had to
pay damages (profits, "harm" and statutory damages [Sega vs Maphia]
nevertheless. Not sure about any convictions for contributory criminal
infringement yet (but this is before the new Digital Millennium
Copyright Act case which will surely come). A lot of reactive law,
since some "rights owners" got mad and threw their weight around

Worst case, linux could itself be considered part of an infringing
system and banned!

Software patents, anti-circumvention law/Digital Millennium Copyright
Act, No Electronic Theft Act, Copyright extensions (terms extended
every 20 years by 20 years - _NEVER_ again will anything become public
domain), etc, the list goes on.

Sometimes I wish Linus didn't come to the USA where they can get to him
and put pressure on/take action against him. I felt he was safer in

I hate to have to say all this! I _do_ love my country! But I don't
love what is happening in and _to_ it. It is contrary to everything
many Americans fought and died for. What extent to stop piracy and
even stifle legitimate uses of products (fair use, etc) to make
"rights owners" even richer?! How do we LOOK to other countries? They
already are annoyed/disappointed at us for a lot, including the
encryption export mess (why can't DES be exported, everyone knows even
Saddam Hussein HAS to have gotten it by now - it is everywhere,
ubiquitous, even outside the USA - is it legitimate national security
issues or did the gov't want to hamper acceptance and deployment of
encryption which could protect US citizens from domestic surveillance
(and control - since so many more things are illegal now)) What are we
doing to our freedom to read, listen, watch, and create? The freedom
to control one's own computer and to create (including computer
programs) are quite important and increasingly fundamental in our ever
more digital world.

Sorry for the politics, but it is affecting us all in the development
community. Whether we know it or not. Individuals are at risk. Linux
is at risk. Our freedom as users and developers is in grave
jeopardy. Our supporters at the LPF have fallen (even their domain
lpf.org went on hold, then was canceled and reassigned by InterNIC,
without explanation). We have to be aware and try to change things for
the better. And prevent them from getting worse. Like it or not, fact
is, Linux (like PGP) is political software. Maybe not by choice, but
it is caught up in the current climate of US (and other countries and
WIPO!) rules, politics, regulations and the like).

This isn't my immagination. Read the FSF and Richard Stallman docs on
"Freedom to Read". Read the communications of the ACM. Check out the
web sites and other publications of the EFF, CDT, ACLU, DFC, HRRC,
EPIC, VTW, CPSR, FSF, the former LPF, and others too numerous to
list. Inform yourselves. Sure it will take time from development, but
it is the price to pay so we aren't banned from it in the
future. Imagine an Internet, a comptuer software industry, and a whole
society, our whole WORLD being controlled and ruled with an iron fist
by the future "Lords of Information".

I wish I didn't have to care about all of this. But we all do.

We have to be aware of all of this. We need to educate ourselves on
politics and law. And start fighting. Or we WILL lose. Not just market
share, not even just the existence of and right to use Linux, but our
very rights.