Friday, November 27, 2009

DVD purchasers (and "creative users") are not pirates!

Check out this article (Nov. 20) by Electronic Frontier Foundation counsel Fred Lohmann, “DVD Customers Are Not Movie Pirates”. He makes numerous important points: innovators who would allow legally purchased DVD’s to be used at multiple locations in a house with hard drive access get sued.

Studios are also trying to prevent amateur video enthusiasts from making derivative works or parodies (I won’t get into the legal definitions here) from DVD’s to post them on YouTube and similar sites. Ironically this could become more “just legal” if based on a pirated video!

But why do studios consider this such a threat? Even actual camcorder piracy (no theater allows photography from a movie theater showing; people have been prosecuted for this), while not ethically defendable, hardly creates a real financial threat.

The real problem may be off-kilter, more like what faces newspapers. Some people see the unsupervised nature of amateur work, often done for emotional satisfaction rather than profits, as the ultimate threat to media company business models, especially to publicly traded companies that have a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders.

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