The MPAA studios are at it again, snatching away our fair use rights, so they can sell them back to us for an "additional fee."
In a lawsuit filed in federal court in New York, Paramount Pictures v. Load 'N Go Video, the MPAA member companies have sued a small business for loading DVDs onto personal media players (e.g., iPod Video) on behalf of customers.
According to the suit, Load 'N Go sells both DVDs and iPods and loads the former onto the latter for customers who purchase both. The company then sends the iPod and the original DVDs to the customer. So the customer has purchased every DVD, and Load 'N Go just saves them the trouble of ripping the DVD. The movie studios' suit claims that this is illegal, because ripping a DVD (i.e., decrypting it and making a copy) is illegal under the DMCA. The suit also claims that this constitutes copyright infringement.
Although this lawsuit happens to be aimed at Load 'N Go, the DMCA theory in the complaint makes it crystal clear that the MPAA believes it is just as illegal for you to do the same thing for yourself at home. Apparently, Hollywood believes that you should have to re-purchase all your DVD movies a second time if you want to watch them on your iPod.
This is copyright gone too far. If you buy a DVD, you should be able to make a personal copy of it for your iPod, just like you should be able to make a copy of a CD for your car, without having to ask permission or pay a second time. That's one of the things fair use is for. Of course, the MPAA claims the DMCA changed all that. Before the DMCA, the studios would have had to go to court and prove that "space-shifting" is not a fair use. After the DMCA, they simply argue that "circumvention" of the CSS encryption on DVDs is forbidden by the DMCA, fair use or not.
This lawsuit is just the latest example of the entertainment industry taking aim not at "pirates," but at the legitimate fair use rights of music and movie fans (we've already written about the lawsuits against the XM inno and Sima). And it's not just lawsuits -- here's a summary of what entertainment industry lobbyists are pushing in Congress. That's why EFF is proud to be involved with the Digital Freedom Campaign alongside CEA and many others, fighting for a sensible copyright law, rather than Hollywood's copyright law.