Related link: http://macdevcenter.com/pub/wlg/8050
Earlier I authored a post entitled “How Intellectual Property Laws Can Drain Your Battery’s Juice” but tried to steer the discussion away from intellectual property controversy as much as possible. After getting some inspiration from David Battino’s “NetFlix for Free . . .Plus a DVD-Copying Tip” post, however, I’ve decided to go ahead and vent something I restrained myself from last time: Is ripping a DVD always a crime — no matter what?
If you always do things by the book — no matter what — then you’ll probably nod immediately and say, “Well of course it is. The disc contains a warning that expressly forbids you from copying it without the authoritative written approval of … and they’ll drag you out into the street and whip you with a stick if you even think about it.”
If you’re this kind of thinker, then you’re underlying thesis is probably based upon the notion that in purchasing a DVD, you’re gaining the rights to view the contents of the physical disc and you’re completely and totally bound by the licensing agreement — no matter what. No backups, no copying, no compressing it to another format, etc. Ok, that’s all well and good. No one is can fault you for that, but make sure that you’re just as diligent in calling the mattress police if you ever find one with a tag that’s been prematurely removed. (Fletch anyone?)
Assuming that there’s a least a few dissenting opinions out there, what about those folks who want to copy a DVD for what would otherwise be a totally legitimate purpose if it weren’t for that little warning? To quote David: “After I watch the movies, I’ll delete the copied files; I have no interest in piracy, just time-shifting”
Amen. If I had to guess, I’d think there might just be a silent majority out there that feels the same way.
Although I can totally empathize with the mattress police crowd, let’s pretend that we’re philosophers and make the assumption that it’s at least a possibility that those DVD warnings are inherently bogus, and thus, they should be disregarded entirely. But let’s not be intellectual property pirates either. We’ll go along with some of the conventional wisdom of the audio industry and assume that it would be alright to legitimately backup and make a copy for personal use.
Assuming that you haven’t violently left the building by now, I’ll take it that you’re willing to play along — if for nothing else then to play devil’s advocate. While there’s a number of ways that we could slice this pie, I don’t even necessarily want to be dogmatic about any particular point of view as much as I just want to throw out some of the possible options for analysis.
To give all of this abstract talk a little more concrete grounding, I recently noticed that the local McDonald’s has a DVD rental machine. You swipe your card, and out pops a movie for a buck. As long as you return it to the machine within 24 hours, all is well. If you don’t return it within some time period, it becomes yours and you get charged. It’s a pretty clever technique. They lure you in for a cheap rental, and you likely spend money on food as you pass through.
Let’s assume that we’ve rented a DVD for a 24 hour period and have a DVD ripper handy. Without trying to be tooexhaustive, here are a few possible scenarios:
- You return the movie after watching it
- You return the movie without watching it
- You rip DVD, don’t watch it, and delete it within the 24 hour rental period
- You rip DVD, don’t watch it, and delete it 48 hours later
- You rip the DVD, watch the ripped version within the 24 hour rental period and then delete it immediately
- You rip the DVD, watch the ripped version within the 24 hour rental period, but don’t delete it until 48 hours later
- You rip the DVD, don’t watch it till 48 hours later, but immediately delete it after watching
Can we devise some kind of ordering scheme and then make a clear division between “right” and “wrong”? Or does the law trump all else and ultimately dictate that we should just stop all of this free-thinking nonsense?
I understand the difference between renting the rights to view the contents of a physical disk for some time period and purchasing the right to view a disc as a one time service but am still interested in hearing what you have to say about all of it.
True or False: Ripping a DVD is always a crime — no matter what.