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Good news from the DVD playback front

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ariadacapo's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-13

Good news from the DVD playback front

As you probably remember, I believe legal DVD playback is an uncircumventable requirement for the progression of GNU/Linux. I have relatively good news about this.

Last month the last trace of LinDVD disappeared from the Internet. Intervideo (which already seemed to have dropped the project entirely) was bought over by Corel. Somebody noticed our link to LinDVD in our Linux FAQ was broken and I didn't know what to do about it.

I kept searching. The most recent reference to legal GNU/Linux DVD playback on the Internet was from Fluendo.... quoting "coming second half of 2006". Well.

I just couldn't write "forget it" in the FAQ entry, so rather than trying an email I picked up the phone and called them. Luckily the first person was the right one (and he spoke English;-)). I was confirmed that the player is under active development. They are currently testing out a beta version with "some customers".
They still need to solve a few legal problems - they have the licenses already but need to finalize the exact technical limitations on the player. Plus a little "polish off", I was told. I was not given any precise date for the release but from the conversation I could appreciate that the product was nearing completion.
Although the (non-free) software will obviously be DRM-enabled (to de-code the CSS), I could understand that it will not contain any form of "Trusted Computing" (communicating with a server, etc).

This is undoubtedly good news. It really feels weird to rejoice at the coming release of a proprietary piece of software, but hey, we have to swallow the pill. In the foreseeable feature, movies will still be produced by huge corporations (here's 1 or 2) who will control the whole distribution chain. We're not getting away with CSS and until a new GNU/Linux PC in a supermarket can read DVDs off the shelf (go tell a customer they have to break the law...) , we are not going anywhere.

So that's a pretty nice thread for me to try out the new Nuxified.org look and feel ;-)

Olivier.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
I suppose in some sense it

I suppose in some sense it can be seen as good news as far as it being the only legal way to play DVDs in some countries. However it doesn't count for much in my country and many others so we can actually legally use Free Software players with all the circumvention stuff enabled.

Personally though I am not the one who would reject patent encumbered Free Software just because it is, well, patent encumbered. Why? It's quite simple. No code is safe. Who can guarantee that the other software I use isn't just as patent encumbered without me or anyone else actually knowing it? When it comes to software patents it is an universal minefield which is why I just don't find it useful to reject certain pieces of software just because of patent threats, which are quite empty, useless and often even barely enforcible due to their utter banality.

Does that mean I advise breaking the law? Perhaps, in some countries. I would rather call it civil disobedience in such cases though.

This is, however, not to say that the official recommendation on your site should be to go the illegal way. It is just a personal attitude, under the cover so to speak and off the official record (no matter what you think this forum post is Eye ).

Cheers

ariadacapo's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-13
Danijel,My understanding

Danijel,

My understanding of the DVD Content Scrambling System problem is that it is a DRM issue, and not patent-related. The legal constraint is that one is not allowed to circumvent the restriction in the DVD. But the processes in DVD decryption are not patented everywhere - as far as I know, we have yet to see a software patent enforced in the EU.
The legislation behind this indeed varies with countries. In the USA, it's the DMCA (passed by the Clinton administration if I remember correctly). In the EU, there's a directive very similar to the DMCA, called the EUCD. All EU member countries have to apply it internally. This will include Croatia if it enters the EU.
In my country the law applying the EUCD directive is called DADVSI. It's a pretty horrible law, adopted in a hurry in the middle of summer (traditionally a French vacation) with no national debate/discussion. I thank goodness that some part of it was judged unconstitutional (and deleted), otherwise P2P would have been made outright illegal (as and in of itself, regardless of use).
I do not know about the legal status in countries outside of the EU or USA - you seem to be more free than I am ;-)

I by no means agree with these laws. I strongly disagree with imposing freedom-depriving software to read purchased, legit copies of DVDs. I myself will hold as long as I can to free software for that purpose; I view this as civil disobedience.
But civil disobedience is a personal decision, for each of us to take or not. If we want to sell GNU/Linux PCs, we just cannot say "break the law to read DVDs" to customers [in the USA + EU at least]. Currently resellers bury their head in the sand. That proprietary player is a good thing, it will shed some light on the problem. As long as users have the option to un-install it and use VLC/other instead, I'm all for it.

So I think we agree ;-) disapproving the legal constraint but satisfied with the market progress that this player enables.

Olivier.

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