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DVD CCA Aims to Prohibit DVD Ripping Once and For All

Kaleidescape, manufacturer of high-end movie servers, beat the DVD CCA the first go-around. Now the organization, which licenses the DVD scrambling system, is fighting back. So is Kaleidescape, with cries of antitrust.

Kaleidescape just can't get a break these days. The DVD Copy Control Association (DVD CCA), which licenses the DVD encryption system (Content Scramble System, or CSS), wants to add an amendment to its licensing agreement that requires a DVD to be present during playback.

In other words, you can't watch a movie stored on a hard drive, meaning Kaleidescape and its fellow movie-management makers would be in violation of the DVD CCA's licensing agreement.

Here we go again. The DVD CCA already lost its first lawsuit against Kaleidescape, which makes very high-end movie servers. The organization argued that its licensing agreement expressly prohibited the copying of a DVD onto a hard drive.

Kaleidescape said that there was no such stipulation in the agreement, and the judge agreed.

So now the DVD CCA wants to state very clearly that you cannot rip a DVD to a hard drive. Period.

Here's the proposed amendment:

6.4. Certain Requirements for DVD Products. DVD Products, alone or in combination with other DVD Products, shall not be designed to descramble scrambled CSS Data when the DVD Disc containing such CSS Data and associated CSS Keys is not physically present in the DVD Player or DVD Drive (as applicable), and a DVD Product shall not be designed to make or direct the making of a persistent copy of CSS Data that has been descrambled from such DVD Disc by such DVD Product.

If passed, DVD CCA members would have 18 months to comply.

Kaleidescape CEO Michael Malcolm wrote a scathing letter (below) to the decision makers at the Content Protection Advisory Council -- including officials from consumer electronics manufacturers, PC makers and content providers -- condemning the proposed amendment.

Malcolm argues that the group—none of whose members make movie servers -- simply wants to put a competitor out of business. Adding the amendment, he says, violates antitrust regulations.

He writes:

The real purpose of this proposed amendment is to put Kaleidescape out of business by excluding the Kaleidescape System from the DVD playback devices authorized by the CSS License Agreement. You should be aware before you vote on the proposed amendment that you expose yourself, your employer, and the DVD CCA to serious and substantial antitrust liability if you vote for this amendment. Both federal and state antitrust laws outlaw anticompetitive conduct by businesses joining together to put a competitor out of business.

The cries of antitrust violations are not far-fetched. Even the folks at the Electronic Frontier Foundation have suggested that there may be some antitrust issues with the DVD CCA.

The Content Protection Advisory Council was supposed to have discussed the amendment yesterday, June 20, but rumor has it that the vote was delayed.

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Article Topics

News · Digital Rights · Media Servers · Media Server · Digital Rights · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

11 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Lee Distad  on  06/21  at  06:34 PM

As both a Kaleidescape dealer, and as a staunch advocate of fair use, not to mention a serious technology pundit, I can’t express how wrong-headed I think the DVD-CCA’s actions are.  Not only does this new maneuver freeze out media server builders, but it freezes out the end user, end users who PAID for their movies.  Clients who can buy a Kaleidescape or other high-end server buy their DVDs from retailers, not bootleggers.  Enacting this change in the DVD-CCA’s licensing agreement will, in the end, be cutting their own throats.  If that was the only net result, I could applaud their suicidal determination, but unfortunately server makers and customers will also suffer.

Posted by Steve  on  06/22  at  09:42 AM

right so they are going to provide us multiple copies of the movie/tv shows we purchase then?

are they also going to write into their new plans that customers if the disc gets damaged or scratched due to being permentally in the drive can go back to the store at any time and get a replacement due to the faulty playbacks due to scratches due to their products being used?

Also this is going to put alot of companys who make dvd players that support the playback of DivX/XviD formats out of business as without ripping the movies/tv boxsets to a mpeg4 format then you cannot play them on a xvid/divx player.

i wonder who thinks of these stooopid ideas i really do… someone sits in a boardroom and plans to kill inovation and kill user experience in 1 fail swoop i really don’t know how these people sleep at night knowing they are screwing people left and right.

its as simple as this people i dont care who you are who reads this

IF I PAID FOR SOMETHING! then i own it and i will
do with that purchase what the hell i please.
im not being told where or what i can use my purchase on and i will use any messures available to me so i can continue using my purchase as i wish.

no one tells me where i can drive my car, what food i can store in my cubbard how i cook my chips, what lawn mower i can use if i can use it more than once or twice… what brand of milk i have to use on my corn flakes.

imagine if your lawn mower come with a rule that it would only allow you to cut the front lawn but not the back, or if your car decided you couldn’t drive on certain roads at certain times of a day.

so if this doesn’t apply to any other purchases i make it sure as hell isn’t going to apply to some stupid dvd disc

and if i can’t then i wont buy any more retail i’ll just turn to piracy and get it free anyway so ask yourself this are you trying to lose customers and push people to piracy because thats the way your heading your giving people no choice what so ever but to turn to the darker side.

Posted by Brian  on  06/22  at  12:13 PM

Thank you Kaleidescape for taking on these turds.
Anyone who has been in this industry for awhile can see the trend to hard drive based media storage and playback. I think this whole thing can be summed up in one word, GREED.

Posted by Jason Finegan  on  06/22  at  01:29 PM

Very well said, Mr. Malcolm.  Maybe what needs to happen is that this amendment needs to be approved by a vote so that anti-trust lawsuits can go forward.  It would be gratifying to see the DVD CCA’s short-sightedness bite them on the rear.  And that would further solidify the legal rights for consumers to make, own, and use digital copies of the media they have purchased.  The manufacturers have to get it out of their heads that the product they are selling is the round piece of cheap aluminum coated plastic.  They are selling the digital data stored on that piece of plastic.  When the consumer buys the disc, they are buying the data.  When a consumer buys a product (the data in this case) it becomes their property.  The manufacturers need to stop worrying about what the consumers are doing with that data.  They should simply be satisfied that people are buying it.

Posted by Dave Hurley  on  06/22  at  02:02 PM

to CEPro-

How can we as a group sign on to this issue and voice our concern, nay outrage to our policy makers.

Posted by Kevin H  on  06/22  at  02:41 PM

Well, ladies and gentlemen.

If the DVD CCA ever puts forth such a perspostuous rule to fordbid ripping (ie - outlaw even making it available for playback on your own iPod), I along with many of my customers would just respond in kind and NEVER, EVER BUY ANOTHER DVD.

I wonder if they will THEN start to worry about what a bumbling mistake they did.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  06/22  at  03:17 PM

On the antitrust thing, I brought it up in my first editorial way back when, DVD CCA is an innovation-stifling cartel”

For that story, I interviewed Fred Von Lohmann, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a wonderful digital-rights organization.

Here’s what I wrote about the possibility of antitrust liability:

[A] legal challenge, it seems, could only come from an antitrust complaint. Indeed, says von Lohmann, “From the beginning, there have been antitrust concerns because of the obvious cartel structure of the DVD CCA, but it’s all cloaked in ‘protecting copyright owners from piracy.’ Some anti-competitive behavior has to be tolerated.”

Antitrust suits are “incredibly expensive to mount,” says von Lohmann. “I think the DVD CCA is taking the view that nobody out there has the money… The people that have the money are in the club!”

If you’re interested in more, read the whole editorial.

Posted by Jim Z  on  06/22  at  07:41 PM

What about apple TV and ipod?  No disc is present in that system.  Does apple get a pass?  Can’t they just make special versions of DVDs for rentals that would be illegal (and difficult) to copy, but store bought versions would be ok? Maybe we need to have a discman accessory to plug into the new iphone.
It’s not like profits on these discs are razor thin, either.  What does it cost to press a DVD, a quarter?  Spider-man 3 has already pulled in over 500 million dollars before the DVD has even come out.  Hundreds of millions to come with the DVD & Blu-Ray versions.  Poor,poor movie studio.  I’d hate to see them miss the billion dollar mark because people didn’t buy multiple copies.


Posted by Tom Sarratt  on  06/23  at  08:22 PM

Having had recent, MOST unpleasant dealings with Kaleidescape myself let me assure you, they are not riding in on a white horse. I was an authorized dealer until a few days ago.

First, I SWEAR TO GOD that every word I am about to write is completely TRUE-feel free to contact me for the entire email string, so you can see for yourself.

They approved me as a dealer, I went to training, had them help me design a system for a client, I made my presentation, got the check and then, without warning, without the slightest notice or ANYTHING, they simple REFUSED my order, placing me in an untennable position with my client and creating a thoroughly HUMILIATING situation for me.

As far as I am concerned they can eat S#!t and go stand on their collective heads in the river! The sooner any company that is so profoundly lacking in decency, fairness, ethics and honesty is GONE, the better for our entire industry. I, for one will be supporting the DVD guys and I hope they sue Kaleidescape off the planet!

Believe me-it couldn’t happen to a group of people who deserve it more!

Tom Sarratt, President
CEDIA Certified Professional System Designer
Sarratt Electronics & Consulting, LLC
3438 Coleman Street
Columbia, SC 29205-2704
Office: 803-252-7401
FAX: 803-252-7402
Cell: 803-767-8194

Posted by Joel DeGray  on  06/23  at  10:11 PM

This is a very serious issue clouded by great miss-understanding and abuse. I own a content loading company and always feel at great risk for my thoughts and comments. None the less I am an American Citizen who has the right and obligation to speak up; after all, it is the US. Government, who authorizes, grants and guarantees the right to make a copy, not the DVD CCA, MPAA nor the RIAA.

Our best communicated understanding of Copyright Law, DRM, DMCA and Fair Use come from those who stand to gain the most by our misunderstanding of it.

I certainly wouldn’t look to an Oil Company for an accurate understanding of Global Warming, and the same is true of the DVD CCA, MPAA and the RIAA when it comes to our rights of access and ownership over intellectual property, music and other arts.

Plainly, copyright law is there to ensure that there is a mechanism to deliver works of intellectual property and arts to the public. It ensures libraries; radio stations and other such outlets exist to enrich the public good. The passing of knowledge and arts are an obligation of a civilized culture, an obligation of existence.

DRM is an access protocol, a technical mechanism in the guise of a utility to prevent unlawful copying and distribution. The true effect is that it inhibits those lawful citizens from enjoying unfettered, fair use of articles which they legally paid to obtain.

Imagine buying an antique book written with ink that for some strange reason could not be read years later under incandescent light, but only by a candle. This is the effect of both DRM and region codes on a DVD, and if they could make a book that would “turn off” once you landed in a foreign country they would…

Truth be told, this is technical extortion and racketeering.

The DMCA is a whopper of a bill which, while oversimplifying, makes it illegal to create or use a tool whose purpose is to unlock a technical mechanism whose purpose is to contain and prevent access to copyrighted material. It is a “Protect Big Business” at the expense of the private citizen. The DMCA does not at all touch upon legal access by rightful owners nor reflect on fair use of the content being held captive by the container nor the encryption technology.

Certainly there is a way to license this, much in the same way a locksmith may legally use a set of lock picks or slim jim.

Big Business doesn’t want this solution- they want to sell you the White Album 8 times.

Perhaps they should focus on providing better works of art and intellectual properties that add value, inspire and promote cultural value, instead of pandering to lowest common denominator quality and quick buck efforts. I am certain that if they live up to their obligation of copyright law we would have better movies and music; in turn they would have greater profits

Posted by lowenby  on  07/02  at  11:09 AM

I am behind Kaleidescape all the way.  This is no different than initially loading Microsoft Windows on your computer and then putting the disc away.  I for one am not buying the White Album 8 times…
go for it, Kaleidescape!
Louise Y. Owenby
Louise Y. Owenby Tech Systems Design
CEDIA Certified System Designer
Lafayette, CA

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