March 14, 2006

Pirates and Lawbreakers

Posted in Commentary at 7:50 am by Michael Sweeney Media

Just because you pass a law doesnt make it right or make it a good law. If the elected officials would ever get this through their heads, we would be much better off. The DCMA is a prime example of a major screw up that ends up wasting more time and money than it protects. It has been twisted to try and prevent companies from making universal garage door openers, refilled printer cartridges to music and DVDs. I normally accept reasonable laws as a cost of freedom and even some not so reasonable laws. But, when I purchase a DVD and I want to put the DVD onto my legally purchased iPod for the two year old to watch while eating out and it takes me breaking several laws outright to accomplish this, there is a serious problem. And the problem is not me since Fair Use gives me the right to do just this. So the idiots in congress try to ban the tools to make my legal copy and keep me from being able to do this at the “request” (read as donations) of the various record and film hacks.

So what happens? Well, you can get MacTheRipper from a varity of sites and mirrors, you can use something like Azureus and bittorrent to get the files already ripped. You can read about TPB, The Pirate Bay, over in Sweden where laws are alot more reasonable and you can easily download many different “controlled items”. When will the idiots come to understand “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.

So here I am, law abiding lawbreaker because I want to be use my DVD on another player that I own. And yes, I break the literal laws of the DCMA by even writing this down. Just goes to show just badly written these laws are.

Additional Notes:

For grins I used Bittorrent and TPB to get a copy of the Harry Potter DVD. Now mind you, my daughter has already bought her copy so this is an experiment in the literal sense. Given all the hype about bittorrent being used to rip off the studio hacks blind, I was interested in seeing just how well or not it would work. I used Azureus to download a copy of Harry Potter and I found out some interesting things. One, if you do not have a reasonably fast network connection, it will take a long, long, long time. Even with a T1, it took over two days to get the 4 gig file. Now, I did limit the upload to 50Kps which has some bearing on it but still, two days for a 15 dollar DVD is alot of wasted time. The DVD I did end up with was complete and so far as I could tell, good quality. I suspect your milage will vary considerably with the movies and other art type of files. Of course, I had no idea until I had the entire file if the file was even good or bad. So I could have wasted two days trying to get something that in the end, was not worth a nickle.

My own thoughts are this; if the studios keep the costs of the media (CD, DVD etc) down to a very reasonble level (see the success of itunes at 99 cents a song), then most people (myself included) can not be bothered with a two day download that may end up being crap. But, If you insist on excessively high prices, then you have driven the stake into your own heart. Bittorrent and it’s clones do work and work well enough with suffient motivation and patience. And there is a point where people (not just pirates) will turn a blind eye and consider the theft to be “poetic justice” to the fat cats etc..etc. There will always be a subgroup that just steals because they can and in a sense are more of a “collector” than anything else. I remember the days of the Commodore 64 and having hundreds of games, not because one could play them all but because you could have them. Just like a collector, you would hunt for the newest, the hard to find, the cleanest hack and so on. And when technology moved on, all the those collected games became so many relics from the past. DVDs and CDs will do the same in short order so all the effort at “protecting” the IP will end up being just a waste of time and effort.

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