[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Copy Protection Schemes

At 10:58 PM 10/30/95, Andrew Loewenstern wrote:

>IANAL, but I thought these types of laws were already tested and deemed
>unconstitutional in cases involving video-tape copying boxes, dual video
>cassette dubbing decks, SCMS 'scrubbers', etc...

The copy-defeat and SCMS scrubbers exist in a legal limbo, mainly being
sold for "other purposes" and often by companies which come and go in the
back pages of audio and video magazines.

For example, I've used a audio gadget (Audio Alchemy "DTI") that reclocks
the bit stream out of a digital source (CD or DAT player)...one of the side
effects is that it also strips (or resets, to be more precise) the SCMS
bits on a DAT recording. Effectively, it defeats the SCMS (Serial Copy
Management System) copy protection scheme. The company that makes it is of
coure well aware of this side effect, as is the audiophile/DAT community,
but the company (Audio Alchemy) takes great pains _not_ to mention this
side effect in their literature.

Likewise, the various Macrovision video copy protection scheme defeaters,
such as may be found in the back pages of video magazines, are "for the
legitimate user only."

I'm fairly certain that any open and aboveboard advertising of such
products as "copy protection defeaters" would face legal challenges under
the copyright laws.

The Go Video and other dual-cassette systems have ostensible legitimate
uses (notably, copying of tapes one has made, perhaps of lectures or
speeches or other personal recordings) and have been "allowed." In
particular, Go Video was held up in its plans for a couple of years while
lawyers and regulators negotiated.

Other cases, such as the Sony-Disney Betamax case, and, indeed, the Xerox
machine itself, involve other issues. Practicalities of enforcement are one
of the most important issues. The Supreme Court obviously looked at the
noninfringing uses (home movies, for example), the difficulty of enforcing
laws against the taping of television shows and movies, etc., and concluded
that technology and markets had made that particular aspect of copyright
law moot. The rationale of "time-shifting" was just the best face they
could put on it, in my view.

Anyway, there are lots of issues and lots of nuances.

--Tim May

Views here are not the views of my Internet Service Provider or Government.
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected]  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
Corralitos, CA              | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^756839      | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders are just speed bumps on the information superhighway."