Gordon Laing wrote:
Hi Greg, I personally believe what you're doing is reasonable, but technically speaking it is not legal. In order to rip a DVD or Blu Ray, you need to circumvent its encryption, and that violates the license agreement. Not to mention violating the copyright.
Now I strongly believe there should be a fair-use policy concerning this for people who want to rip their discs for personal use, be it for a portable device, a media server, or simply to protect their media or clear the shelves.
But the sad fact is, when you buy many things these days, you don't actually own them. Once you open the box, you're agreeing to their terms and conditions, which means no hacking, modding, copying etc. What you're paying for is a right to play the device or media under their terms.
I used to write many articles about this for PCW magazine in the UK.
Now the legalities vary on the country. In the UK, it's not a criminal offence when done personally in small numbers - so the police won't be knocking on your door. Instead it's a civil offence, which means the copyright owner (ie the movie or record company) is in their rights to sue you. Should you start doing it in high volume though - such as copying to sell at a market - then it becomes a criminal offence and you can expect a run-in with the law.
It is ridiculous though considering the number of portable devices designed to play ripped content, especially when you think about a company like Sony which produces both films and music along with the devices to play them.
The 'solution' from the media owners is to include a digital copy for portable devices, but of course enthusiasts like us want to do it under our own terms. For example I don't want an MP3 - I want a lossless FLAC etc.
Regardless of what the laws are in the UK 'nanny state', the most common belief is that if you've bought a copy of a dvd, then it's yours to transfer to whatever media you see fit in order to view it.
It's funny how the how legal thing cropped up with cassettes back in the day, and people just forgot about it till the mp3 player showed up.
Sony is one company learnt the hard way with their minidisc format, followed by the Atrac format as a whole.
When they first brought out Hi-MD, and allowed users to transfer their mp3's to HI-MD (1gb minidiscs), they had actually capped the quality of mp3's to make their atrac format seem that much better.
I won't even get into UMD movies that were made for the PSP, and which when first released, cost the same ammount of money as the regular dvd. I mean did they really think people would actually buy UMD instead of just buying a regular dvd, and convert that to use on their psp?
Sony has made one mistake after the other. Only now are they learning from their mistakes.
There are people out there who buy a PC game, and then get a crack for the game just so that they don't have to use the CD. With all the DRM, secu-rom, root-kit, and what not that get's installed on our pc's, to protect us from the PC game or other item we think we've bought, it's easy to understand how those that actually do buy their games feel put off and guilty when they are innocent.
Eventually it will all change. Either the whole industry will crash and burn, or they will hopefully find a way that actually appeals to us as consumers.
Amazon, and Apple have come a long way by offering legitimate ways of downloading music, and hopefully they will do the same for movies.
Games are already heading in that direction with Steam, offering a huge amount of games, for people who don't want to buy a hard copy. Steam is always offering some sort of special offer or another. Their half life series is always at a good price.
Movies is the last thing to follow suit. Obviously it's not easy, or reasonable to download a blu ray movie from the likes of net flix, but with speeds of broadband on the rise, this will change and the prices of movies will drop accordingly.
The downside of this is obviously that there will be no need for brick and mortar stores anymore (Jessops, woolworths etc). As it is, I don't think many people buy cd's anymore, in favour of just using a download service like itunes, or going the illegal route of just downloading straight off the net. Bah.