DVD-encryption cracking to be allowed by the Feds?

The United States Copyright Office has reportedly heard requests of the public to discuss any possible loopholes on its rules. At the UCLA Law School this Wednesday, Federal regulators have considered testimonies whether to legalize DVD-encryption cracking or not. The public hearing was attended by federal officials, representatives from motion picture studios and about 2 dozen members of the public. The public, including filmmakers, have petitioned the U.S. Copyright Office for the permission to continue using DVD decryption tools to copy short clips of DVDs from motion pictures. It is also reported that another proposal was heard about the authorization for the public to make copies of their own DVDs without breaching the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.

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On the other hand, Clarissa Weirick, the general counsel of Warner Brothers Home Entertainment, testified against all the decryption measures. “If we didn’t have access controls, there might be the same kind of mass piracy we’ve seen with unprotected music,” Weirick said. Fox and other major motion picture studios under the Motion Picture Association of America opposed all the measures proposed in the afternoon public hearing. They said that there is no need to grant the public the right to make copies of their DVDs because the studios are streaming and selling movies online now, and that the public does not own the movies they buy on DVDs.

Filmmakers including Laurence Thrush opposed the objection of the companies citing that using screen-capture software turns clips into mush. “The fabric of reality is very important to these projects,” Thrush objected. After hearing the requests, Maria Pallante, the register of copyrights, commented about the rapid change in the market. “Licensing options are changing. Conceivably even with a budget of zero, permission might be possible,” she said. Intellectual property coordinator Corynne McSherry told Pallante and lawyers in the Copyright Office that granting the exemptions is not going to help pirates. “They must be granted,” McSherry added. For a thorough reading on the subject, please visit this site.

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