Mark Cuban has noted the Macrovision DMCA lawsuit and wonders what the heck it is all about (What Am I Missing Macrovision?). Apparently he doesn't read this blog, because then he would already know a lot more about the lawsuit (Macrovision Invokes DMCA for Analog Copy-Protection Technology). Anyway, Cuban asks,
Now maybe Im reading this wrong, but the way I understand it, the CEO of MacroVision, a company that sells copy protection software to DVD publishers, is sending out a press release saying
Our software doesnt work. It sucks. We cant stop a bunch of little companies from writing software that completely busts our copy protection that we are selling for millions of dollars to publishers.
If thats the case, why in the world are DVD publishers paying Macrovision any money at all?
Pretty much because the DVD publishers were the main ones (other than Macrovision itself) who helped push Congress to mandate
that VCR manufacturers include Macrovision technology Hollywood knew didn't work to stop commercial copyright infringement in the first place. But the point wasn't to stop commercial copyright infringement. The point was to inhibit personal use copying (you could always sell it back as a priviledge, later) and to establish control over the devices that citizens could use. The point was also to establish another precedent for Congress to mandate copy-protection technology in consumer goods, such as the Digital Audio Home Recording Act
of 1992, which mandated the adoption of the Serial Copy Management System
. (Congress sure mandates winning technologies, doesn't it?)
So just what is the purpose of having Macrovision copy protection on DVDs? To raise the price to consumers? To make things more difficult for them? To make sure its illegal to backup DVDs we have purchased?
Am I missing something here?
If the DVD publishers stopped ensuring that Macrovision got paid, then the whole DMCA scheme might be up. Why do DVD publishers continue to pay for the failed DRM scheme known as the Content Scrambling System
or CSS? It certainly isn't because copyright infringers can't make copies of DVDs. It continues to be supported in order to control the manufacturers of DVD players and to support the DMCA. The real issue is that, without the DMCA, Hollywood fears a total loss of control over how its product is experienced and distributed. Its fear of challenging new business models, fear of competition, basically, fear of change that is driving Hollywood to hold on to the DMCA for dear life (that is, when they're not trying to get more DRM mandates, such as the Broadcast Flag, passed).
So hows bout we cut consumers a break and get this shit away from our DVDs.
The only way to do that is to elminate the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA.
I would also recommend those interested in understanding what DRM is really about read: