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Criminal Customers

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The recording, television, and motion picture industries are treating their customer base as if they were criminals.

The recording, television, and motion picture industries are treating their customer base as if they were criminals. The copy protection placed on CDs and DVDs prevent consumers from using the music or movies they have purchased.

Someone that purchases a CD should be allowed to play it on a computer’s CD player or copy a song or two to a disc of their favorite songs. DVD owners should be able to watch movies on their Linux laptops. TV fans should be allowed to record their favorite shows onto any device they see fit.

These are legitimate uses for copyrighted material that is already owned by a consumer. But the respective industries have tried to prevent their customer bases from doing these things.

Music publishers place copy protection on CDs to keep me from copying the music or playing the CD on a device that has the potential to copying music.

Movie publishers encrypt the contents of a DVD and then take the makers of open source DVD software for Linux to court because, to allow playback, the software unscrambles the DVD’s contents. Once the movie is unscrambled, it would be possible to make a copy of it.

Television companies sue ReplayTV to prevent them from allowing consumers to record television shows. It’s legal to do so, but the TV industry is argueing that ReplayTV makes recording too easy. Someone might make copies of a show and pirate them.

There is no other industry that assumes their customers are criminals. If I go into a store to buy a new suit, the store takes precautions to keep me from taking one without paying, but there are no restrictions on it after I’ve bought it. The suit designer doesn’t tell me that I can’t wear it in the presence of a fashion designer who might knock it off.

Even the software industry, which often goes to ridiculous extremes to prevent piracy, doesn’t try to prevent consumers from using the software on their chosen device. Imagine a software company that won’t allow someone to install their product if a CD burner is installed on the computer.

The various entertainment industires are slowly alienating their customer base. By doing so, they are turning people into pirates. Ordinary consumers are turning to tools and technologies to help them defeat the industry protection schemes. The industries are thus creating a legitimate market for the cracking tools they hope to defeat.

dave manchester
September 10, 2002 4:43 AM

This is an excellent articulation of the argument for "Fair Use". With Your permission, I would like to republish this at my e-Blogazine, Stoned Out Loud. Other article contributions have been received and published from John Perry Barlow (Vice Chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation), and Delene Garafano. I plan to publish a few of my own articles soon, as well, including "The Right to Bear Silicon" currently at . Please email me to let me know that it's okay to publish this opinion, okay? A cc to would be good, too. Thanks for this excellently worded article. All the Best, David C. Manchester Publisher, Stoned Out Loud Chairman, -- Never mind the meteors. Keep Your eyes on the Stars. -John F. Kennedy, JFK-Words to Remember

Scott St. John
May 20, 2003 9:31 PM

Excellent article. I was just thinking about recording Internet streams. I host a radio show on a rock station and was looking for a way to save my shows - saving the stream on a hard drive would do the trick. Sadly WinAmp has prevented this. After checking the net for answers it appears that an Internet stream is considered digital quality and you can not save it. I don't know about you, but I hardly consider Internet streaming perfect digital quality, but it is just another example of FUD.

David Smith
November 17, 2003 8:44 AM

I think the labels are suffering for several reasons. Part of this is illegal file sharing. However, I am inclined to believe that most of the losses they are incurring is of their own making. The public is bored with the generic "If you like Britney...You'll like blah blah" approach. Or, "Look. Its another girl singer (Beyonce, Christina Aguilara) that can't sing a simple melody line!" I am sick of all the freaking out ad-libbers singing to weak music dressed up with very boring synths and drum machine programming. I always support the artist that I like, especially the independents who concentrate on making great music, not great facsimiles

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