Copyfight is picking up on something I started talking about a while ago: content owners want to re-sell you the things you already own. Digital isn’t about copying, it’s about not having to re-purchase music just because the record company releases it in a new format (album, cassette, CD, beyond CD). The Real Threat: Me2Me is about just that.
HBO, for one, is very straightforward in its FAQ that the goal is to take away your time/space shifting rights in order to sell them back to you. In one section, HBO says that it has sole discretion to “decide what copying privileges [we] wish to extend to consumers.” In another, it tells you its “On-Demand” service means you no longer need to “time shift” programming.
Then, a story at The Inquirer (Prepare to get screwed by digital rights management) starts with a letter from a reader:
I recorded Six Feet Under and then opened up Sonic MyDVD, as usual, to import the video, edit out the beginning and ending junk, and burn a DVD for my personal use.
I got a message saying it couldn’t be done because the file was copy protected! Huh?
Turns out that a couple of days ago, HBO started encrypting all of its programs with CGMS-A. They allow you to “copy” a program that you record from their signal once. The trouble is that they consider that one-time copy to be recording the program onto your hard drive, not taking it from the hard drive to a DVD. THAT SUCKS OUT LOUD and I am extremely angry, as you can imagine. The files are HUGE and, even though I have a 200 gb hard drive, I can’t keep them there forever.
I add that the letter-writer’s “time-shifting” of televised content has been recognized as fair use by the courts since the Betamax deciscion. Charlie Demerjian’s Inquirer column continues:
One very important thing to note, nothing in the above letter mentions piracy, selling, depriving the precious content providers of money, or anything else that is not completely legal under fair use laws. If the letter writer attempts to get around the copy protection to burn the things he recorded to his own DVDs for his own personal use, under the DMCA, he is a criminal. So, HBO in one fell swoop pissed off its customers by screwing them, potentially made them criminals, and saved themselves nothing. Brilliant plan, eh?
The thin ray of light in all this may come from the Kerry campaign. TeleRead reports Hooray! Kerry might actually help tone down the DMCA:
Kerry’s campaign said the senator might support rewriting U.S. copyright law to let Americans make backup copies of digital media they’ve purchased.