DVD/CD-RW combo drives in Linux? Time for DVD+RW?
merritt at u.washington.edu
Tue Dec 10 11:28:50 PST 2002
On Tuesday 10 December 2002 10:02, Scholz Matthew wrote:
> The other issue, as I recall, is decoding:
> As far as I know there's not a "licensed" piece of
> software out there to decode a DVD under linux, so you
> either have to use deCSS in opposition to the mandate
> of federal courts, or buy a hardware decoding card.
You are muddying the waters under discussion.
There is no restriction that I am aware of on burning data
to DVDs in whatever format you like. The DMCA and deCSS
is simply not relevant to using DVDs or any other medium for
data backup. So DVD-burners are of interest to anyone who
deals in large amounts of data, where "large" means
bigger than the 700MB or so that fits on a CDR.
The DMCA rears its ugly head, with dangling snarls of deCSS,
when you start talking about playing commercially distributed
videos on DVD. The recording industry in general claims that
under the terms of the DMCA they can legally restrict the method
of playback to licensed hardware/software. This is a claim that has
not, so far as I know, been tested yet in court, but the fear of
litigation has impeded the development and distribution of linux
On Tuesday 10 December 2002 10:02, Dejan Nikic wrote:
> i doubt there is a legal-licensed piece of software for dvd encoding or
> decoding for any os. I mean isn't that what the encryption is all about?
This is incorrect.
Neither the DMCA nor the deCSS license stops you from writing your
own encrypted disks. Why would it?
And sure there is licensed decryption software. What did you think
was running on all those Windows systems sold with DVD players?
For instance I am in the interesting position of having a laptop which
contains a CDRW/DVD player. It came with an owners manual explaining
that playing DVDs was possible because the software
player running under Windows was licensed as part of bundled package
of laptop+MSWindows+DVDPlayer+etc. But guess what, I'm not running
Windows on it, in fact it was purchased with linux pre-installed.
So the question of whether or not it would be a violation of the DMCA to
play deCSS-encryted DVDs on such a laptop under linux is a nicely pure
test of whether the RIAA or the DMCA can restrict my choice of playback
software. There should be no question that all the hardware bits are
licensed, and in fact there is a software license for that very machine.
Furthermore, if the (licensed) deCSS codec from windows is still on the
disk, a linux player using plugin codecs (mplayer, xine :-) can use it.
Then the question would come down to whether the license could restrict
your choice of operating systems, over and above requiring a licensed codec.
I think the RIAA would not choose this as a test case in court, because
they would be on about the weakest possible ground.
More information than you probably wanted may be found at
Disclaimers: I may not be current on the state of deCSS-related legal
findings, and in any case I am not a lawyer and nothing I say here should
be construed as legal advice.
Ethan A Merritt merritt at u.washington.edu
Biomolecular Structure Center Box 357742
University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195
More information about the Linux