Public Knowledge today recommended to the U.S. Copyright Office that
consumers be given the ability to “space shift” DVDs among various
devices they may own, by cracking the encryption on the DVDs.
PK made the recommendation as part of the Copyright Office’s
proceeding that takes place every three years to evaluate suggested exemptions
to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
The PK filing is here.
Unlike music CDs,
video DVDs are usually encrypted. It is currently a violation of the DMCA
to break the encryption in order to copy the video onto another device.
PK asked the Register of Copyright to approve an exemption for
breaking the encryption so that a DVD could be copied, for noncommercial use,
onto a consumer’s device, such as a tablet computer or other item that doesn’t
have a DVD drive.
PK’s filing said: “The combination of
widespread DVD ownership and trends away from DVD drives in devices leaves
consumers with a dilemma: having invested tens, hundreds, or even
thousands of dollars in motion picture DVDs, they are unable to play them on
their newest devices. The only reasonable solution for these consumers is to copy the
motion picture contained on the DVD into a format that can be viewed on
the new device. Without the requested exemption, critical steps in the copying
process violate the DMCA.”