Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Here's a quick timeline: ~2000: Anyone who could afford a DVD drive for their computer could rip movies with some minor hassle with free tools floating around the internet. ~2003: The free tools become easily usable by anyone with a brain stem and interest in doing so. The programs crack DVD encryption methods with frankly embarrassing ease and speed. 2007: RealNetworks tries to make a legitimate tool for ripping DVDs while leaving in some DRM (i.e., restrictions on use). 2008: The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) sues them for aiding infringement. The EFF files a brief supporting RealNetworks position, basically claiming it is fair use to copy your own DVDs and people have been doing it for almost a decade. Today: MPAA mocks the EFF for "living in the past". So, with dozens of commonly used programs out there for backing up DVDs - a perfectly reasonable thing to do, since the lifespan of data on commercial hard drives is basically infinite if you back it up properly - the MPAA decides to target one that actually keeps the encryption that they original put on the disks. Their definition of the past is pretty funny too, since (eight years ago/today/in the foreseeable future) DVD backup (was/is/will continue to be) easy and legal under the terms of fair use and really, really easy. I'm kinda surprised RealNetworks even found a market for it with the number of effective free tools out there.