Talk Like A Pirate

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New at Reason: You can have Jeff Taylor's copyright-protected media when you pry it from his cold, dead digits.

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  1. What happened to the “free markets” part of the Reason slogan? If a DVD seller wants to stick three hours of ads at the beginning of the disc, without any way to get around them, that’s his prerogative. People who don’t want to own that particular piece of plastic don’t have to buy it. Nobody’s been coerced, everyone’s liberty is intact, and all is well. What’s the big deal?

    The one argument that might be acceptable here might address fraud: If one has been made to believe one is purchasing a piece of plastic that contains “XYZ” film — but actually is substantially made up of advertising — then perhaps there’s a case. But it would be a case that has nothing to with the arguments presented in Taylor’s piece.

    Could somebody tell me precisely when Reason writers decided to start sacrificing libertarian principles at the altar of technology? I understand certain myopic web geeks getting all snitty about “digital rights” and stuff, but what’s your excuse?

  2. Uh … the fact that the law tells us we can’t tinker with the disc or player to make it play the way we want to?

  3. Writing of “media,” I am about to go view “Matrix – Revolutions.” I’ll present my review later tonight or tommorrow. I am hoping the trilogy ends well.

    One thing the films have made me is a Marilyn Manson fan; and, well, also Rob Zombie and Rammstein.

  4. The U.S. doesn’t have a free market.

    We have a mix of mercantilism and corporatism.

  5. The U.S. doesn’t have a free market.

    Oh, give me a break. In the sense that matters here — a seller’s right to sell what he wants — we have a free market. And it should be vigorously defended by those of the Reason stripe.

    That doesn’t mean we can’t bitch about ads at the front of a DVD. Sure we can; go for it. But we surely shouldn’t be bitching about the government STAYING OUT of the issue and letting DVD makers sell whatever they want.

  6. Those few minutes of trailers, ads and studio promos at the beginning of DVDs are the perfect time to adjust the volume control, feed the cats so they won’t rub against my goddamn leg during the movie, kill any annoying lights, adjust my ass in the recliner, or take one last piss.

  7. Sam I Was,

    We also need a free market in the sense of allowing competing sellers to offer the same movie with different packaging. If there was any competition, somebody would find it profitable to offer a DVD without all the ads.

    But having a monopoly grant from the state (ahem, I mean copyright) means never having to say you’re sorry.

  8. If a DVD seller wants to stick three hours of ads at the beginning of the disc, without any way to get around them, that’s his prerogative

    And if the DVD purchaser wants to modify his DVD player to make it skip those ads, that’s his prerogative too… in an ideal world.

    However, in the real world, your seller is exercising his prerogative in a free market while my purchaser is committing a federal crime. That’s what some of us have a problem with.

  9. Go see Revolutions; its a fine film.

  10. In the real world, what percentage of the population do think is capeable of modifying a dvd player?

    All right, reread that sentence as “choose to purchase a DVD player either designed or aftermarket-modified to skip ads” My point still stands–you can’t choose to purchase such a DVD player in the US, because manufacturing, selling, or even (arguably) using one is a criminal offense under the DMCA.

  11. An unenforceable law is ultimately worse (or better?) than no law at all, and the history of the digital revolution, insofar as the battle between the producers and the consumers of products is concerned, leads to the conclusion that the consumers will win all these control issues.

    Technology giveth and technology taketh away. Before the invention of Sony Beta and VHS players the residual value of a motion picture after its theatrical run and television airing was very small. The new technology created a bonanza, one might even argue a windfall for the owners. The price they paid for all that money they never expected to make in the first place was and is piracy.

    Technology gets better. Digital copies are, to all intents and purposes, as good as the original. Now these companies who have been selling VHS and then DVD copies of, say, “Casablanca,” are shocked, shocked! to discover that they may not be able to milk the same profits out of new releases.

    Well, they can try to stop it but they almost certainly won’t be able to do so. All copy protection systems are, in principal, breakable and legal protections are, in practice, unenforceable.

    As for the commercial content in, for example, the Disney products, well, yes, it is somewhat objectionable to force-feed these ads in what is essentially childrens programing. But is it any worse than Saturday morning cartoons?

  12. sorry… post above was mine but somehow got posted blind

  13. But we surely shouldn’t be bitching about the government STAYING OUT of the issue and letting DVD makers sell whatever they want.

    They’re not staying out, Sam, that’s the problem. Laissez-faire is for all of us…if they want to leave the DVD player makers alone, fine. But leave us alone too, and shove that DMCA where the sun don’t shine.

  14. Keep in mind that we’re essentially captive audiences to the ads in theaters, as well (unless you can time your entrance appropriately). Those time-wasters are reason enough to see “Matrix Revolutions” at your nearest IMAX (where they cut the lights and go straight to the opening credits – no “coming attractions” or anything other than what you paid yer money to see).

  15. And if the DVD purchaser wants to modify his DVD player to make it skip those ads, that’s his prerogative too… in an ideal world.

    AWJ,

    In the real world, what percentage of the population do think is capeable of modifying a dvd player?

    The only solution to the problem is to let the studions know that you will not buy a copy of any movie they force you to watch an ad for.

    WARNING: This tactict is not recommended with Disney if you have small children!

  16. All copy protection systems are, in principal, breakable

    There is no means by which a company can stop you from copying DVDs, CDs, whatever, because at some point the stream will be reduced to basic, unencrypted, ready-for-peripheral video and sound signals moving along your computer’s bus (you can copy a CD right off your sound card with a small C program; the video hack is harder yet doable).

    it is somewhat objectionable to force-feed these ads in what is essentially childrens programing.

    Force-feeding is the key. With VHS, we always had the option of skipping through. In paying less than $10 to sit in the theater for one showing, we don’t have that option. But in paying more than $20 for a copy, there is no valid reason why we should accept advertising on top of what we already had to pay for the movie, which is overpriced in the first place. If it wasn’t essentially a felony to skip the ads, I probably wouldn’t care.

    An industry figure (can’t remember who) once made the statement that people who walk away from the television are stealing programming. I get up or change the channel during commercials now sometimes out of spite. I get the feeling that the entertainment industry thinks we owe it something, and they and other IP-intensive industries get the federal government to protect them from the backlash incurred by their own failure to deliver on the demand of their consumers. It’s not a free market unless both sides are free.

  17. In the real world, what percentage of the population do think is capeable of modifying a dvd player?

    DVD is an encryption algorithm, and the programming to disable the navigation is encoded within the DVD. Disabling that is a violation of the DMCA, which essentially states that it is a felony to reverse engineer certain things that you paid for and own, because apparently it’s more important to protect low-quality, poorly implemented encryption algorithms than it is to protect the theory of private ownership.

    I highly recommend that all of you get a copy of DeCSS while you can.

  18. rst,

    I was not arguing that it is a free market (ndeed, it is a fairly typical case of captive regulators), only that in this case technology will eventually favor the consumers. No doubt, black boxes permitting easy copying of DVDs will also permit unlocking the annoying advertising and/or entirely deleting it in the copy.

  19. Shouldn’t that be “pry them”?

    Jeff, feeling pedantic

  20. Yeah the free market thing was for Sam; he had protested that the seller can do what they like and that’s a free market. The consumer, however, doesn’t know that s/he’s going to get hours of ads, and is ultimately prevented by law from doing anything to get around the ads.

  21. Sam I Was,

    Oh yeah, Anti-dumping laws, tariffs, consumer “protection” from the FDA, state control of water rights, regional monopoly of electricity, legislation produced by politcians endorsing rent-seeking and creating greater barriers to entry in certain markets………….yeah, we have a free market. 😉

  22. EMAIL: pamela_woodlake@yahoo.com
    IP: 62.213.67.122
    URL: http://gambling-online.best-gambling.biz
    DATE: 01/19/2004 08:16:50
    I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.

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