Bruce Perens to exercise free speech on stage...
July 24, 2002 6:05 PM   Subscribe

Bruce Perens to exercise free speech on stage... by explaining how to watch European DVDs on an American DVD player. By circumventing the DRM he may face a $500,000 fine or imprisonment.
I guess there are just some things you're not allowed to talk about, for the good of society.
posted by holloway (10 comments total)
Really? Cool. Someone gave me a region 2 copy of Scarface, and I have been dying to watch it.
posted by adampsyche at 6:38 PM on July 24, 2002

Rock on, Bruce.
posted by evanizer at 6:57 PM on July 24, 2002

From what I've read, the MPAA had stated in the past that region encoding wouldn't limit what content was available, and yet today I can find a handful of DVD sets I would love to own, but they're only available with UK encoding, and won't work in my US player. This makes no sense, especially since the multinational studio producing the DVDs is based in America.

Friends outside the US have told me picking up a region-free DVD player is easier than buying an extended warranty on one, and the US seems to be the only country with hangups about it.

One thing's for certain: my next DVD player will be region free so I can enjoy any worldwide content I please. I'd rather make decisions myself on what I can or can't watch instead of some Hollywood executives.

Bruce Perens gets my support over this silly limitation and Jack Valenti and his cronies get a big Fuck You from me.
posted by mathowie at 6:58 PM on July 24, 2002

One thing with region free players. The most recent incarnations of discs can detect this and refuse to play. My personal feelings is that the MPAA should be allowed to buy whatever technologies they want to protect their property. On the other hand consumers should be allowed to reverse engineer, publish the results and implement any findings. What shouldn't be allowed is the purchase of legislation favourable to the MPAA but at loggerheads to consumer rights.

I've purchased 100% of the music I listen to and movies I watch. I should be allowed to do anything I like with them short of selling copies of them. Presently it is technically feasible for me to do so, the MPAA, RIAA and software industry are good at lining the pockets of politicians but absolutely horrendous at buying good technology. Unfortunately, their skill at purchasing legislation means that while its technically feasible to exercise your rights as consumers, its not legal.

I too applaud Bruce Perens and hope his exercise bears fruit. Perversely, this means I hope that he ends up in jail. It also means that I hope the EFF puts the money I've been donating to them to good use.
posted by substrate at 8:07 PM on July 24, 2002

Bruce (I'm assuming it's really him) was commenting on this over on Slashdot.
Am I getting arrested? The people who would arrest me are probably smart enough to pick someone with worse P.R., like 2600 Magazine, to take the fall. They will probably not pick me to do so because there's too much chance that I'd win, and set a precedent against the law. Thus, publicity about bad law and informing the public are the main goal of my talk.
Now, I would love to see these issues get more publicity. I wish the public in general cared more about DRM and IP than they seem to. I don't think this will garner much publicity outside of those people who are already concerned though, so largely it seems pretty futile.
posted by willnot at 8:10 PM on July 24, 2002

I've bought all my multi-region DVD players from DVD City, who are located in Georgia and seem reliable. I would buy the extended warranty: my first player worked flawlessly until one month after the warranty ran out, then died, and could not be resuscitated.

It's true that some current Region 1 DVD's (with 'REA') recognize 'region-free' players and won't play in them, but virtually all modded DVD players today are 'multi-region', not 'region-free': to the DVD software, they appear to be the region that the software expects. The user may have to manually set the region on the player for REA discs. (For other DVD's the player will set itself to the appropriate region automatically.)

Has anyone out there with a true multi-region player had it refuse an REA disc?

The whole region-encoding mess seems to me to be an utter failure. I hear that everywhere but in the US, multi-region players are the rule.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 9:59 PM on July 24, 2002

Can someone explain to me how circumvention of region encoding violates someone's copyright? I know it's against the DMCA, but I don't get how bypassing region encoding to play a DVD that I purchased legally is violating the actual copyright. I'm not taking food out of anyone's mouth, so to speak, like it would be if I bought a pirated copy. The DMCA protects price fixing, not copyright, right? When did it become the job of our government to ensure that a company remains profitable when technological advances make its products obsolete?
posted by RylandDotNet at 1:04 AM on July 25, 2002

You're right, circumventing someones software/hardware protection mechanisms isn't the act of breaking copyright itself. Well, for most definitions of copyright, sort of, well, the ones that don't define copyright-holder rights as the ability to use DRM, which is few, anyway.

When a work is published it's understood that the author gains certain rights (protection of their property) and that users gain certain rights (use). The author can claim certain limits on the use of content - for example, charge more for VHS performances in public. It's quite reasonable that certain uses of content should be disallowed, as much as certain limitations should be disallowed. The problems occur when the balance is skewed, and one side dictates to the other what their rights should be. The copyright is useless without enforcement, and so you get DRM. Copyright becomes DRM, and people expect a DRM black box to make legal decisions that it hasn't a hope in hell of accomplishing.
posted by holloway at 11:41 PM on July 25, 2002

Bruce backs down.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:16 PM on July 26, 2002

Hollywood is winning, folks. You are losing. And you'd better start caring.

thanks for the update PST. I was curious.
posted by Ufez Jones at 1:10 PM on July 26, 2002

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