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Karive Send email
Feb 23, 2012

Avoid this website at all costs

How naive can you be … well I was, and I'm not even a natural blond! As i was looking for a site with the documentary Project Nim I stumbled on Fullmovies. It seemed so promising and it had Project Nim … Well, to make a long story short I did take out a Platinum subscription and after that it was all downhill. No Project Nim, unclear listing, not even a proper search button. And when I sent emails to Fullmovies as well as Clickbank I received standard cut and paste replies. I want my money back if not I'll tweet this story. And of course I'm angry with myself for not reading all your reviews before subscribing ...
Daredev Send email
Feb 23, 2012

Avoid this website at all costs

With regard to warez groups or organized piracy groups, a movie is usually released in several formats and different versions because the primary sources used by a group for a particular movie may vary. Pirated movies are primarily released by these organized groups, commonly referred to as scene groups or warez groups. The first release of a movie is usually of a lower quality (due to a lack of sources), and is eventually replaced with higher-quality releases as better sources become available.

Contents [hide]
1 Background
2 Release formats
3 See also
4 References

[edit] BackgroundCam releases were the early attempts at movie piracy which are implemented by taping the on-screen projection of a movie in a cinema. This enabled groups to pirate movies which were in their theatrical period (not released for personal entertainment). But because these releases often suffered distinctly low quality and it is hard to do because people may notice, alternative methods were sought.

A prime example was the release of American Pie.[1] This is notable for three reasons:

1.It was released in an uncensored workprint format. The later theatrical release was cut down by several minutes and had scenes reworked to avoid nudity to pass MPAA guidelines.
2.It was released nearly two months prior to its release in theaters (CNN Headline News reported on its early release).[citation needed]
3.It was listed by the movie company as one of the reasons it released an Unrated DVD edition.[citation needed]
In October 1999, DeCSS was released. This program allowed anyone to remove the CSS encryption on a DVD. Although its authors only intended the software be used for playback purposes, it also meant that one could decode the content perfectly for ripping; combined with the DivX 3.11 Alpha codec released shortly after, the new codec increased video quality from near VHS to almost DVD quality when encoding from a DVD source.

The early DivX releases were mostly internal for group use, but once the codec spread, it became accepted as a standard and quickly became the most widely used format for the scene. With help from associates who either worked for a movie theater, movie production company, or video rental company, groups were supplied with massive amounts of material, and new releases began appearing at a very fast pace. When a new release of DivX came out (Version 4.0), the codec went commercial and the need for a free codec, Xvid was created. Today, Xvid has replaced DivX almost entirely. Although the DivX codec has evolved from version 4 to 7.0 during this time, it is banned[2] in the warez scene due to the commercial nature of the codec.

[edit] Release formatsBelow is a table of pirated movie release types along with respective sources, ranging from the lowest quality to the highest. Scene rules define in which format and way each release type is to be packaged and distributed.[3]

Type Label Rarity
Cam[4] CAMRip
CAM Common; Quality issues make this an unpopular format
A copy made in a cinema using a camcorder, possibly mounted on a tripod. The sound source is the camera microphone. Cam rips can quickly appear online after the first preview or premiere of the film. The quality ranges from terrible to very good, depending on the group of persons performing the recording and the resolution of the camera used. The main disadvantage of this is the sound quality. The microphone does not only record the sound from the movie, but also the background sound in the cinema. The camera can also record movements and audio of the audience in the theater, for instance, when someone stands up in front of the screen, or when the audience laughs at a funny moment in the movie.
Telesync[4] TS
PDVD Very common
Contrary to popular belief, the video quality of a TS is not necessarily better than a cam. The term Telesync does not indicate better video quality but better audio quality. The CAM source is then synchronized with a secondary audio recording, either done with a professional microphone in an empty cinema (even though by Scene Rules this would be nuked since the audio is not direct, they are hard to tell the difference), fed directly from the cinema's sound system, or captured from an FM radio transmission intended for hearing-impaired customers. Often, a cam is mislabeled as a telesync.
PDVD, also known as Pre-DVD, is a release type found mostly in India and/or for Indian movies, with Hollywood movies being the majority. Low quality CAM/TS releases in India put on a DVD and sold on the streets, which are ripped by some release groups and released as PDVD-rips. They are often mistaken for being DVD-rips, due to the name.

Workprint[4] WP[5]
A copy made from an unfinished version of a film produced by the studio. Typically a workprint has missing effects and overlays, and often differ from its theatrical release. Some workprints have a time index marker running in a corner or on the top edge; some may also include a watermark. A workprint might be an uncut version, and missing some material that would appear in the final movie.
Telecine[4] TC
TELECINE Fairly rare; losing popularity due to R5 releases
A copy captured from a film print using a machine that transfers the movie from its analog reel to digital format. These were rare because telecine machines for making these prints were very costly and very large. However, recently they have become much more common. Telecine has basically the same quality as DVD, since the technique is same as digitizing the actual film to DVD. However, the result is inferior since the source material is usually a lower quality copy reel. Telecine machines usually cause a slight left-right jitter in the picture and have inferior color levels compared to DVD.
Pay-Per-View Rip[6] PPV
PPVRip Common
PPVRips come from Pay-Per-View sources, all the PPVRip releases are brand new movies which have not yet been released to Screener or DVD but are available for viewing by Hotel customers.
Screener[4] SCR
BDSCR Very Common
These are early DVD or BD releases of the theatrical version of a film, typically sent to movie reviewers, Academy members, and executives for review purposes. A screener normally has a message overlaid on its picture, with wording similar to: "The film you are watching is a promotional copy, if you purchased this film at a retail store please contact 1-800-NO-COPIES to report it." Apart from this, some movie studios release their screeners with a number of scenes of varying duration shown in black-and-white. Aside from this message, and the occasional B&W scenes, screeners are normally of only slightly lower quality than a retail DVD-Rip, due to the smaller investment in DVD mastering for the limited run. Some screener rips with the overlay message get cropped to remove the message and get released mislabled as DVD-Rips.
Note: Screeners make a small exception here, since the content may differ from a retail version, it can be considered as lower quality than a DVD-Rip (even if the screener in question was sourced from a DVD).

Digital Distribution Copy DDC
Extremely Rare
DDC is basically the same as a Screener, but sent digitally (email/ftp/http/etc.) to companies instead of via the postal system. This makes distribution cheaper. Its quality is lower than one of a R5 but higher than a Cam or a Telesync.
R5[7] R5
R5LINE Very common
The R5 is a retail DVD from region 5. Region 5 consists of the Indian subcontinent, Africa, North Korea, Russia and Mongolia. R5 releases differ from normal releases in that they are a direct Telecine transfer of the film without any of the image processing. If the DVD does not contain an English-language audio track, the R5 video is synced to a previously released English audio track. Then a LiNE tag is added.[8] This means that the sound often is not as good as DVD-Rips.
DVD-Rip DVDRip Very common
A final retail version of a film, typically released before it is available outside its originating region. Often after one group of pirates releases a high-quality DVD-Rip, the "race" to release that film will stop. Because of their high quality, DVD-Rips generally replace any earlier copies that may already have been circulating. Widescreen DVDs are indicated as WS.DVDRip.
DVD-R DVDR, [9] DVD-Full, Full-Rip, ISO rip, lossless rip, untouched rip, DVD-5/DVD-9 Very common
A final retail version of a film in DVD format, generally a complete copy from the original DVD. If the original DVD is released in the DVD-9 format, however, extras might be removed and/or the video re-encoded to make the image fit the less expensive for burning and quicker to download DVD-5 format. DVD-R releases often accompany DVD-Rips. DVD-R rips are larger in size, generally filling up the 4.37 or 7.95 GiB provided by DVD-5 and DVD-9 respectively. Untouched or lossless rips in the strictest sense are 1:1 rips of the source, with nothing removed or changed, though often the definition is lightened to include DVDs which have not been transcoded, and no features were removed from the user's perspective, removing only restrictions and possible nuisances such as copyright warnings and movie previews.
HDTV or DS Rip[10] TVRip
DTHRip Very common
TVRip is a capture source from an analog capture card (coaxial/composite/s-video connection)
Digital satellite rip (DSR) is a rip that is captured from a non standard definition digital source like satellite.
HDTV or PDTV or DTH (Direct To Home) rips often come from Over-the-Air transmissions. With an HDTV source, the quality can sometimes even surpass DVD. Movies in this format are starting to grow in popularity.
Analog, DSR, and PDTV sources are often re-encoded to 512×384 if fullscreen, 640×352 if widescreen. HDTV sources are re-encoded to multiple resolutions such as 640×352 (360p), 960×528 (540p), 1280×720 (720p) at various file sizes for pirated releases. They can be progressive scan captured or not (480i digital transmission).
VODRip[11] VODRip
Common, becoming more common
VODRip stands for Video-On-Demand Rip. This can be done by recording or capturing a video/movie from an On-Demand service such as through a cable or satellite TV service. Most services will state that ripping or capturing films is a breach of their use policy but it is becoming more and more popular as it requires little technology or setup. As there are many online On-Demand services that would not require one to connect their TV and computer. It can be done by using software to identify the video source address and downloading it as a video file which is often the method that bears the best quality end result. However, some people have used screen cams which effectively record, like a video camera, what is on a certain part of the computer screen but does so internally, making the quality not of HD quality but nevertheless significantly better than a CAM or TELE-SYNC version filmed from a cinema, TV or computer screen.
Blu-Ray / BluRay / BLURAY
BD5/BD9 Common
Similar to DVD-Rip, only the source is a Blu-ray Disc. A BD/BR Rip in DVD-Rip size often looks better than a same-size DVD rip because encoders have better source material. What is commonly misunderstood among downloaders is that a BDRip and a BRRip is NOT the same thing. A BDRip comes directly from the Blu-ray source, and BRRip is encoded from a pre-release, usually from a 1080p BDRip from another group. BD Rips are available in DVD-Rip sized releases (commonly 700MB and 1.4GB) encoded in XviD as well as larger DVD5 or DVD9 (often 4.5gb or larger, depending on length and quality) sized releases encoded in x264. BD5 or BD9 are also available, which are slightly smaller than their counterpart DVD5/DVD9 releases, are AVCHD compatible using the BD Folder structure and are intended to be burnt onto DVDs to play in AVCHD compatible Blu-ray players. More recent types, probably associated with the use of newsgroups and cheaper storage at home, are complete Blu-ray copies(images). Commonly referred to as BD25 or BD50 and may or may not be re-mixed (but not transcoded).
They come in various versions: the m-720p (or mini 720p) is a compressed version of a 720p, it usually weights around 2-3 GB; the 720p, which usually weights around 4-7 GB and its the most downloaded form of BDRip; the m-1080p (or mini 1080p) that usually weights a little bit more than the 720p's and the 1080p, that can weight from 8GB to sizes as big as 40-60 GB.
The oldest legacy computer systems used today are still less than 40 years old, and the copyrights on them will not expire in most countries until about 2030. Changes, operating systems, network environments and user expectations usually make programs obsolete much faster than copyright expires.[citation needed]

[edit] United StatesUnder the proposed US Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA), a controversial model law that has been adopted in Virginia and Maryland, software manufacturers are granted broad rights to shut down unauthorized software copiers without court intervention similar to some of the provisions found in Title II of the US DMCA, the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act, which allows copyright holders to demand that an online service provider (OSP) expeditiously block access to infringing materials. If the OSP complies, it is granted a safe harbor, providing it immunity from infringement claims. If it does not comply, it does not become liable, but may instead rely on the protection of the Communications Decency Act.

Title I of the US DMCA, the WIPO Copyright and Performances and Phonograms Treaties Implementation Act has provisions that prevent persons from "circumvent[ing] a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work". Thus if a software manufacturer has some kind of software, dongle or password access device installed in the software any attempt to bypass such a copy protection scheme may be actionable — though the US Copyright Office is currently reviewing anticircumvention rulemaking under DMCA — anticircumvention exemptions that have been in place under the DMCA include those in software designed to filter websites that are generally seen to be inefficient (child safety and public library website filtering software) and the circumvention of copy protection mechanisms that have malfunctioned, have caused the software to become inoperable or which are no longer supported by their manufacturers.

[edit] LimitationsCopyright only protects the artistic expression of the work, and not its technical form, nor R&D.[1] Substantial modification to an original work, might create a way for a third party to claim they independently authored a work if it cannot be proved that the original work was used. For example, original source code may be sufficiently altered to overcome copyright's Substantial similarity requirement, by using a combination of Obfuscated code techniques, including: symbol renaming, flow-control alteration, function in-lining or externalization, argument overloading, class-inheritance restructuring[dubious – discuss] . Obfuscation tools and strategies [2] exist publicly that aide in these techniques, even while copyright infringement is not their intended purpose. On the other hand, two separate authors may independently write code, whether days or years apart, that is so similar that AFC and other tests may find that they match, even when no copying actually occurred.

Evaluation of alleged software copyright infringement in a court of law may be non-trivial; if an original work is alleged to have been modified, then tests such as the Abstraction-Filtration-Comparison test (AFC Test)[3][4] are used to detect infringement. The time and costs required to apply this test naturally vary based on the size and complexity of the copyrighted material. Furthermore, there is no standard or universally accepted test; some courts have rejected the AFC Test it in favor of narrower testing criteria.

[edit] The effects of copyright infringement on digital culture[edit] Claims of severe adverse effectsAccording to studies conducted jointly by BSA and IDC, in 2009 losses from software piracy have exceeded $51 billion.[5]

In addition, it has been claimed that reducing piracy rates would provide significant economical benefits:

Lowering software piracy by just 10 percentage points during the next four years would create nearly 500, 000 new jobs and pump $140 billion into ailing economies.
— John Gantz, chief research officer at IDC[6]
According to a BSA/IDC studies, the highest piracy rate comes from Armenia, with piracy rate of 93%. China and India are at No. 17 and No. 41 respectively, with 82% and 69% of recorded Software Piracy rates.[7] The lowest piracy rate, according to survey, is observed in USA, at 20%.

It should be noted though, that methodology of these studies has been heavily criticised.

[edit] "Lesser evil" conceptBy some of software producers, illegally copying software is seen as a "lesser evil" than actually buying or illegally copying a competitor's software. Jeff Raikes, a Microsoft executive, stated that "If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." He also added [8] that "We understand that in the long run the fundamental asset is the installed base of people who are using our products. What you hope to do over time is convert them to licensing the software." In a different case, Microsoft has admitted that piracy of its Windows operating system has helped give it huge market share in China that will boost its revenues when these users "go legit." Bill Gates said, "It's easier for our software to compete with Linux when there's piracy than when there's not."[9] He has also said in reference to China:

As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.
—Bill Gates[10]
[edit] Developing countriesAs most commercially exploited proprietary software is developed in the United States and Europe, some critics in the developing countries of the world see this as an indirect technology transfer tax on their country preventing technological advancement and they use this type of argument when refusing to accept the copyright laws that are in force in most technologically advanced countries. This idea is often applied to patent laws as well. Traian Băsescu, the president of Romania, stated that "piracy helped the young generation discover computers. It set off the development of the IT industry in Romania."[11]

The debate about software piracy acceptance in developing countries still continues. In 2011, the Business Software Alliance announces that 83 percent of software deployed on PCs in Africa has been pirated (excluding South Africa).[12]

[edit] Moral issuesSurveys indicate that software piracy is generally regarded as an issue of low moral intensity.[13]

[edit] Copyright and open sourceCertain open source licenses (most notably GPL) substantially rely on existing copyright law. It is not possible to enforce GPL other than within the framework of existing copyright law.[14][15] As GPL being strongly associated with word Copyleft, there is certain confusion about GPL and copyright, but despite somewhat confusing wording, copyleft is indeed one (unprivative) of copyright licensing schemas.

[edit] Anti-copyright infringement organizations

The WIPO Copyright and Performances and Phonograms Treaties Implementation Act, is a part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a 1998 U.S. law. It has two major portions, Section 102, which implements the requirements of the WIPO Copyright Treaty, and Section 103, which arguably provides additional protection against the circumvention of copy prevention systems (with some exceptions) and prohibits the removal of copyright management information.

Contents [hide]
1 Section 102
2 Section 103
2.1 Section 103 cases
3 Criticisms
4 Copyright Office rulemaking procedures
5 References
6 External links

Section 102Section 102 gives the act its name, which is based on the requirements of the WIPO Copyright Treaty concluded at Geneva, Switzerland, on 20 December 1996. It modifies US copyright law to include works produced in the countries which sign the following treaties:

the Universal Copyright Convention
the Geneva Phonograms Convention (Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms, Geneva, Switzerland, 29 October 1971)
the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
the WTO Agreement (as defined in the Uruguay Round Agreements Act)
the WIPO Copyright Treaty signed at Geneva, Switzerland on 20 December 1996
the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty concluded at Geneva, Switzerland on 20 December 1996
any other copyright treaty to which the United States is a party
Section 103Section 103 provoked most of the controversy which resulted from the act. It is often called DMCA anti-circumvention provisions. It restricts the ability to make, sell, or distribute devices which circumvent Digital Rights Management systems, adding Chapter 12 (sections 1201 through 1205) to US copyright law.

Section 1201 makes it illegal to:

(1) "circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work" except as allowed after rulemaking procedures administered by the Register of Copyrights every three years. (The exemptions made through the three-yearly review do not apply to the supply of circumvention devices, only to the act of circumvention itself.)
(2) "manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in" a device, service or component which is primarily intended to circumvent "a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work, " and which either has limited commercially significant other uses or is marketed for the anti-circumvention purpose.
(3) "manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in" a device, service or component which is primarily intended to circumvent "protection afforded by a technological measure that effectively protects a right of a copyright owner, " and which either has limited commercially significant other uses or is marketed for the anti-circumvention purpose.
sell any VHS VCR, 8 mm analogue video tape recorder, Beta video recorder or other analogue video cassette recorder which is not affected by automatic gain control copy protection (the basis of Macrovision), with some exceptions.
The act creates a distinction between access-control measures and copy-control measures. An access-control measure limits access to the contents of the protected work, for example by encryption. A copy-control measure only limits the ability of a user to copy the work. Though the act makes it illegal to distribute technology to circumvent either type of copy protection, only the action of circumventing access-control measures is illegal. The action of circumventing a copy-control measure is not prohibited, though any copies made are still subject to other copyright law.

The section goes on to limit its apparent reach. The statute says that:

it will not affect rights, remedies, limitations, or defenses to copyright infringement, including fair use;
it is not necessary to design components specifically to use copy protection systems;
"nothing in this section shall enlarge or diminish any rights of free speech or the press for activities using consumer electronics, telecommunications, or computing products";
circumvention for law enforcement, intelligence collection, and other government activities is allowed;
reverse engineering to achieve interoperability of computer programs is allowed;
encryption research is allowed;
systems to prevent minors from accessing some internet content are allowed to circumvent;
circumvention to protect personal information by disabling part of a system is allowed; and
security testing is allowed.
In addition, the statute has a "primary intent" requirement, [verification needed] which creates evidentiary problems for those seeking to prove a violation.[citation needed] In order for a violation to be proved, it must be shown that the alleged violator must have primarily intended to circumvent copyright protection. However, if the primary intent is to achieve interoperability of software or devices, the circumvention is permitted and no violation has occurred.

Section 1202 prohibits the removal of copyright management information.

On balance, it is difficult to say whether the Act expands copyright enforcement powers or limits them. Because it does not affect the underlying substantive copyright protections, the Act can be viewed as merely changing the penalties and procedures available for enforcement. Because it grants safe harbors in various situations for research, reverse engineering, circumvention, security, and protection of minors, the Act in many ways limits the scope of copyright enforcement.

Section 103 casesJudicial enforcement of the statute and the treaty has not been nearly as far-reaching as was originally hoped by its advocates. Here are a handful of notable instances where advocates of proprietary encryption techniques sought to use the law to their advantage:

DVDs are often encrypted with the Content Scrambling System (CSS). To play a CSS DVD, it must be decrypted. Jon Johansen and two anonymous colleagues wrote DeCSS, a program that did this decryption, so they could watch DVDs in Linux. US servers distributing this software were asked to stop on the theory they were violating this law. Mr. Johansen was tried in his native Norway under that country's analogous statute. The Norwegian courts ultimately acquitted Mr. Johansen because he was acting consistent with interoperability and he could not be held responsible for others' motives. The software is now widely available.

2600 Magazine was sued under this law for distributing a list of links to websites where DeCSS could be downloaded. The court found that the "primary purpose" of the defendants' actions was to promote redistribution of DVDs, in part because the defendants admitted as much. See Universal v. Reimerdes, 111 F. Supp. 2d 346 (S.D.N.Y. 2000). The finding was upheld by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on the specific facts of the case, but the appellate court left open the possibility that different facts could change the result. See Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Corley, 273 F.3d 429 (2d Cir. 2001), at footnotes 5 and 16.

A similar program, also by Johansen, decrypted iTunes Music Store files so they could be played on Linux. Apple had the software taken down from several servers for violating this law. However, Apple Computer has since reversed its stand and begun advocating encryption-free distribution of content.[citation needed]

Dmitry Sklyarov, a Russian programmer was jailed under this law when he visited the U.S., because he had written a program in Russia which allowed users to access documents for which they had forgotten the password. (He was eventually acquitted by a jury of all counts, reportedly because the jury thought the law was unfair—a phenomenon known as jury nullification.), a website which distributed tools to make Sony's AIBO robotic pet do new tricks, like dance jazz. Sony alleged that the tools violated this law, and asked for them to be taken down. (After negative press they changed their mind.)

A company selling mod chips for Sony PlayStations, which allowed the systems to play video games from other countries, was raided by the US government and their products were seized under this law.

Smart cards, while they have many other purposes, are also used by DirecTV to decrypt their television satellite signals for paying users. Distributors of smart card readers, which could create smart cards (including ones that could decrypt DirecTV signals) were raided by DirecTV and their products and customer lists were seized. DirecTV then sent a letter to over 100, 000 purchasers of the readers and filed lawsuits against over 5, 000. They offered to not file or drop the suit for $3500, less than litigating the case would cost. (The suits are ongoing.)

Lexmark sued Static Control Components which made replacement recycled toner cartridges for their printers under this law. Lexmark initially won a preliminary injunction, but that injunction was vacated by the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

See also: Lexmark Int'l v. Static Control Components
The Chamberlain Group sued Skylink Technologies for creating garage door openers that opened their own garage doors under this law. (The lawsuit is ongoing, though the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has issued a ruling casting serious doubt on Chamberlain's likelihood of success.)

Prof. Edward Felten and several colleagues, were threatened with a lawsuit under this law if they presented a paper at a technical conference describing how they participated in the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) decryption challenge. (After Felten sued for declaratory judgment, the threat was dropped.)

Secure Network Operations (SNOsoft), a group of secrurity researchers, published a security flaw in HP's Tru64 operating system after HP refused to fix it. HP threatened to sue them under this law. (After negative press they dropped the threat.)

Blackboard Inc. filed a civil complaint against university students Billy Hoffman and Virgil Griffith who were researching security holes in the Blackboard Transaction System. A judge issued an injunction on the two students to prevent them from publishing their research. Blackboard Inc. had previously sent a complaint to the students saying they were violating this law. Since that time, however, Blackboard has pledged to cooperate with open-source developers. On February 1, 2007, Blackboard announced via press release "The Blackboard Patent Pledge". In this pledge to the open source and do-it-yourself course management community, the company vows to forever refrain from asserting its patent rights against open-source developers, except when it is itself sued for patent infringement.

Princeton student J. Alex Halderman[1] was threatened by SunnComm under this law for explaining how Mediamax CD-3 CD copy protection worked. Halderman explained that the copy protection could be defeated by holding down the shift key when inserting the CD into Windows (this prevented autorun, which installed the Mediamax protection software). After press attention SunnComm withdrew their threat.

Blizzard Entertainment threatened the developers of bnetd, a freely available clone of, a proprietary server system used by all Blizzard games on the Internet. Blizzard claims that these servers allow circumvention of its CD key copy protection scheme. (The Electronic Frontier Foundation is currently negotiating a settlement.)

The Advanced Access Content System Licensing Administrator, LLC sent violation notices to a number of sites who had published the encryption key to HD-DVDs. The key and the software with which to decrypt the disks had been published by an anonymous programmer.[1] When Digg took down references to the key, its users revolted and began distributing it in many creative ways. Eventually, Digg was unable to stop its users and gave up. AACS executives have vowed to fight on. [2]. See the AACS encryption key controversy.

Open-source software to decrypt content scrambled with the Content Scrambling System presents an intractable problem with the application of this law. Because the decryption is necessary to achieve interoperability of open source operating systems with proprietary operating systems, the circumvention is protected by the Act. However, the nature of open source software makes the decryption techniques available to those who wish to violate copyright laws. Consequently, the exception for interoperability effectively swallows the rule against circumvention.

Criticisms This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (April 2009)

Large industry associations like the MPAA and RIAA say the law is necessary to prevent copyright infringement in the digital era, while a growing coalition of open source software developers and Internet activists argue that the law stifles innovation while doing little to stop copyright infringement. Because the content must ultimately be decrypted in order for users to understand it, near-perfect copying of the decrypted content always remains possible for pirates. Meanwhile, developers of open source and other next-generation software must write complex and sophisticated software routines to ensure interoperability of their software with legacy Windows technology. Thus, the opponents are angry at having to bear the costs of technology that results in no benefit.

Some proponents of the law claim it was necessary to implement several WIPO treaties. Opponents respond that the law was not necessary, even if it was it went far beyond what the treaties require, and the treaties were written and passed by the same industry lobbyists people who wanted to pass this law. They also note that the severe ambiguities in the law, its difficulty in enforcement, and its numerous exceptions make it ineffective in achieving its stated goal of protecting copyright holders.

Others claim that the law is necessary to prevent online copyright infringement, using perfect digital copies. Opponents note that copyright infringement was already illegal and the DMCA does not outlaw infringement but only legal uses like display and performance.

Opponents of the law charge that it violates the First Amendment on its face, because it restricts the distribution of computer software, like DeCSS. The Second Circuit rejected this argument in MPAA v. 2600, suggesting that software was not really speech. Under the specific facts of the case, however, the Constitutional decision was not controlling. The defendants' ultimate purpose was to make possible the copying of copyrighted content, not publishing their own speech. Most other circuits that have considered the issue concluded software is speech, but have not considered this law.

Opponents also say it creates serious chilling effects stifling legitimate First Amendment speech. For example, John Wiley & Sons changed their mind and decided not to publish a book by Andrew Huang about security flaws in the Xbox because of this law. After Huang tried to self-publish, his online store provider dropped support because of similar concerns. (The book is now being published by No Starch Press.)

Opponents also argue that the law might be read to give full control to copyright holders over what uses are and are not permitted, essentially eliminating fair use. For example, ebook readers protected by this law can prevent the user from copying short excerpts from the book, printing a couple pages, and having the computer read the book aloud—all of which are legal under copyright law, but this law could be expanded to prohibit building a tool to do what is otherwise legal. However, other legal scholars note that the law's emphasis on violations of preexisting rights of copyright holders ensures that the DMCA does not expand those rights. If the purpose of the activity is not to violate a preexisting right, the activity is not illegal. Fair use, the scholars say, would still be protected.

Copyright Office rulemaking proceduresAs required by the DMCA, in 1999 the U.S. Copyright Office launched a public appeal for comments on the DMCA in order "to determine whether there are particular classes of works as to which users are, or are likely to be, adversely affected in their ability to make noninfringing uses due to the prohibition on circumvention of access controls". The entire set of written submissions, testimonial transcripts, and final recommendations and rulings for all three rulemakings (2000, 2003, and 2006) are available here.

Since they were enacted in 1998, the "anti-circumvention" provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA"), codified in section 1201 of the Copyright Act, have not been used as Congress envisioned. Congress meant to stop copyright infringers from defeating anti-piracy protections added to copyrighted works and to ban the "black box" devices intended for that purpose.1

In practice, the anti-circumvention provisions have been used to stifle a wide array of legitimate activities, rather than to stop copyright infringement. As a result, the DMCA has developed into a serious threat to several important public policy priorities:

•The DMCA Chills Free Expression and Scientific Research.
Experience with section 1201 demonstrates that it is being used to stifle free speech and scientific research. The lawsuit against 2600 magazine, threats against Princeton Professor Edward Felten's team of researchers, and prosecution of Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov have chilled the legitimate activities of journalists, publishers, scientists, students, programmers, and members of the public.
•The DMCA Jeopardizes Fair Use.
By banning all acts of circumvention, and all technologies and tools that can be used for circumvention, the DMCA grants to copyright owners the power to unilaterally eliminate the public's fair use rights. Already, the movie industry's use of encryption on DVDs has curtailed consumers' ability to make legitimate, personal-use copies of movies they have purchased.
•The DMCA Impedes Competition and Innovation.
Rather than focusing on pirates, some have wielded the DMCA to hinder legitimate competitors. For example, the DMCA has been used to block aftermarket competition in laser printer toner cartridges, garage door openers, and computer maintenance services. Similarly, Apple has used the DMCA to tie its iPhone and iPod devices to Apple's own software and services.
•The DMCA Interferes with Computer Intrusion Laws.
Further, the DMCA has been misused as a general-purpose prohibition on computer network access, a task for which it was not designed and to which it is ill-suited. For example, a disgruntled employer used the DMCA against a former contractor for simply connecting to the company's computer system through a virtual private network ("VPN").
DMCA Legislative BackgroundCongress enacted the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions in response to two pressures. First, Congress was responding to the perceived need to implement obligations imposed on the U.S. by the 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty. Second (as reflected in the details of section 1201, which go well beyond anything the WIPO treaty required2), Congress was also responding to the concerns of copyright owners that their works would be widely pirated in the networked digital world.3

Section 1201 contains two distinct prohibitions: a ban on acts of circumvention, and a ban on the distribution of tools and technologies used for circumvention.

The "act" prohibition, set out in section 1201(a)(1), prohibits the act of circumventing a technological measure used by copyright owners to control access to their works ("access controls"). So, for example, this provision makes it unlawful to defeat the encryption system used on DVD movies. This ban on acts of circumvention applies even where the purpose for decrypting the movie would otherwise be legitimate. As a result, the motion picture industry maintains that it is unlawful to make a digital copy ("rip") of a DVD you own for playback on your iPod.

The "tools" prohibitions, set out in sections 1201(a)(2) and 1201(b), outlaw the manufacture, sale, distribution, or trafficking of tools and technologies that make circumvention possible. These provisions ban both technologies that defeat access controls, and also technologies that defeat use restrictions imposed by copyright owners, such as copy controls. These provisions prohibit the distribution of software that was designed to defeat CD copy-protection technologies, for example.

Section 1201 includes a number of exceptions for certain limited classes of activities, including security testing, reverse engineering of software, encryption research, and law enforcement. These exceptions have been criticized as being too narrow to be of use to the constituencies they were intended to assist.4

A violation of any of the "act" or "tools" prohibitions is subject to significant civil and, in some circumstances, criminal penalties.

Chilling Free Expression and Scientific ResearchSection 1201 has been used by a number of copyright owners to stifle free speech and legitimate scientific research.

The lawsuit against 2600 magazine, threats against Professor Edward Felten's team of researchers, and prosecution of the Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov are among the most widely known examples of the DMCA being used to chill speech and research. Bowing to DMCA liability fears, online service providers and bulletin board operators have censored discussions of copy-protection systems, programmers have removed computer security programs from their websites, and students, scientists and security experts have stopped publishing details of their research.

These developments weaken security for all computer users (including, ironically, for copyright owners counting on technical measures to protect their works), as security researchers shy away from research that might run afoul of section 1201.

Apple Threatens BluWiki

In 2009, Apple threatened the free wiki hosting site BluWiki for hosting a discussion by hobbyists about reverse engineering iPods to interoperate with software other than Apple's own iTunes. Without a work-around, iPod and iPhone owners would be unable to use third-party software, such as Winamp or Songbird, to "sync" their media collections between computer and iPod or iPhone.5

The material on the public wiki was merely a discussion of the reverse engineering effort, along with some snippets of relevant code drawn from Apple software. There were no "circumvention tools, " nor any indication that the hobbyists had succeeded in their interoperability efforts. Nevertheless, Apple's lawyers sent OdioWorks, the company behind BluWiki, a cease and desist letter threatening legal action under the DMCA.

Bluwiki ultimately sued Apple to defend the free speech interests of its users.6In response, Apple dropped its threat, and BluWiki reinstated the deleted pages.7

DMCA Delays Disclosure of Sony-BMG "Rootkit" Vulnerability

Professor J. Alex Halderman, then a graduate student at Princeton University, discovered the existence of several security vulnerabilities in the CD copy-protection software on dozens of Sony-BMG titles. He delayed publishing his discovery for several weeks while consulting with lawyers in order to avoid DMCA pitfalls. This left millions of music fans at risk longer than necessary.8 The security flaws inherent in Sony-BMG's "rootkit" copy-protection software were subsequently publicized by another researcher who was apparently unaware of the legal risks created by the DMCA.

Security researchers had sought a DMCA exemption in 2003 in order to facilitate research on dangerous DRM systems like the Sony-BMG rootkit, but their request was denied by the U.S. Copyright Office.9 In 2006, the Copyright Office granted an exemption to the DMCA for researchers examining the security threat posed by copy protection software on compact discs.10 This exemption, however, did not protect researchers studying other DRM systems.

In 2009, Prof. Halderman was again forced to seek a DMCA exemption from the Copyright Office in order to continue his computer security research relating to DRM systems, including the protection mechanisms used on the Electronic Arts videogame, Spore, which has been the subject of class action lawsuits alleging security vulnerabilities.11 As of February 2010, the Copyright Office had not ruled on the proposed exemption.

SunnComm Threatens Researcher

In October 2003, then Princeton graduate student J. Alex Halderman was threatened with a DMCA lawsuit after publishing a report documenting weaknesses in a CD copy-protection technology developed by SunnComm. Halderman revealed that merely holding down the shift key on a Windows PC would render SunnComm's copy protection technology ineffective. Furious company executives then threatened legal action.

The company quickly retreated from its threats in the face of public outcry and negative press attention. Although Halderman was spared, the controversy again reminded security researchers of their vulnerability to DMCA threats for simply publishing the results of their research.12

Cyber-Security Czar Notes Chill on Research

Speaking at MIT in October 2002, White House Cyber Security Chief Richard Clarke called for DMCA reform, noting his concern that the DMCA had been used to chill legitimate computer security research. The Boston Globe quoted Clarke as saying, "I think a lot of people didn't realize that it would have this potential chilling effect on vulnerability research."13

Professor Felten's Research Team Threatened

In September 2000, a multi-industry group known as the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) issued a public challenge encouraging skilled technologists to try to defeat certain watermarking technologies intended to protect digital music. Princeton computer science professor Edward Felten and a team of researchers at Princeton, Rice, and Xerox took up the challenge and succeeded in removing the watermarks.

When the team tried to present their results at an academic conference, however, SDMI representatives threatened the researchers with liability under the DMCA. The threat letter was also delivered to the researchers' employers and the conference organizers. After extensive discussions with counsel, the researchers grudgingly withdrew their paper from the conference. The threat was ultimately withdrawn and a portion of the research was published at a subsequent conference, but only after the researchers filed a lawsuit.

After enduring this experience, at least one of the researchers involved has decided to forgo further research efforts in this field.14

Hewlett Packard Threatens SNOsoft

Hewlett-Packard resorted to DMCA threats when researchers published a security flaw in HP's Tru64 UNIX operating system. The researchers, a loosely-organized collective known as Secure Network Operations ("SNOsoft"), received the DMCA threat after releasing software in July 2002 that demonstrated vulnerabilities that HP had been aware of for some time, but had not bothered to fix.

After widespread press attention, HP ultimately withdrew the DMCA threat. Security researchers got the message, however—publish vulnerability research at your own risk.15

Blackboard Threatens Security Researchers

In April 2003, educational software company Blackboard Inc. used a DMCA threat to stop the presentation of research on security vulnerabilities in its products at the InterzOne II conference in Atlanta. Students Billy Hoffman and Virgil Griffith were scheduled to present their research on security flaws in the Blackboard ID card system used by university campus security systems but were blocked shortly before the talk by a cease-and-desist letter invoking the DMCA.

Blackboard obtained a temporary restraining order against the students and the conference organizers at a secret "ex parte" hearing the day before the conference began, giving the students and conference organizer no opportunity to appear in court or challenge the order before the scheduled presentation. Despite the rhetoric in its initial cease and desist letter, Blackboard's lawsuit did not mention the DMCA. The invocation in the original cease-and-desist letter, however, underscores the way the statute has been used to chill security research.16

Xbox Hack Book Dropped by Publisher

In 2003, U.S. publisher John Wiley & Sons dropped plans to publish a book by security researcher Andrew "Bunnie" Huang, citing DMCA liability concerns. Wiley had commissioned Huang to write a book that described the security flaws in the Microsoft Xbox game console, flaws Huang had discovered as part of his doctoral research at M.I.T.

Following Microsoft's legal action against a vendor of Xbox "mod chips" in early 2003, and the music industry's 2001 DMCA threats against Professor Felten's research team, Wiley dropped the book for fear that the book might be treated as a "circumvention device" under the DMCA. Huang's initial attempt to self-publish was thwarted after his online shopping cart provider also withdrew, citing DMCA concerns.

After several months of negotiations, Huang eventually self-published the book in mid-2003. After extensive legal consultations, Huang was able to get the book published by No Starch Press.17

Censorware Research Obstructed

Seth Finkelstein conducts research on "censorware" software (i.e., programs that block websites that contain objectionable material), documenting flaws in such software. Finkelstein's research, for example, revealed that censorware vendor N2H2 blocked a variety of legitimate websites, evidence that assisted the ACLU in challenging a law requiring the use web filtering software by federally-funded public libraries.18

N2H2 claimed that the DMCA should block researchers like Finkelstein from examining its software. Finkelstein was ultimately forced to seek a DMCA exemption from the Librarian of Congress, who granted the exemption in both the 2000 and 2003 triennial rulemakings. The exemption, however, was not renewed in 2006, leaving future researchers without protection from DMCA threats.19

Benjamin Edelman has also conducted extensive research into flaws in various censorware products. Edelman's research also led to evidence used by the ACLU in its constitutional challenge to the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which mandates the use of censorware by public libraries.

In the course of his work for the ACLU, Edelman discovered that the DMCA might interfere with his efforts to learn what websites are blocked by censorware products. Because he sought to create and distribute software tools to enable others to analyze the list if it changed, Edelman could not rely on the limited DMCA regulatory exception in place at the time. Unwilling to risk civil and criminal penalties under Section 1201, Edelman was forced to sue to seek clarification of his legal rights. Unfortunately, the court found that Edelman would have to undertake the research and hazard legal reprisals in order to have standing to challenge the DMCA. The case was therefore dismissed without addressing the DMCA's chill on research.20

Dmitry Sklyarov Arrested

In July 2001, Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov was jailed for several weeks and detained for five months in the United States after speaking at the DEFCON conference in Las Vegas.

Prosecutors, prompted by software goliath Adobe Systems Inc., alleged that Sklyarov had worked on a software program known as the Advanced e-Book Processor, which was distributed over the Internet by his Russian employer, ElcomSoft. The software allowed owners of Adobe electronic books ("e-books") to convert them from Adobe's e-Book format into PDF files, thereby removing restrictions embedded into the files by e-book publishers.

Sklyarov was never accused of infringing any copyright, nor of assisting anyone else to infringe copyrights. His alleged crime was working on a software tool with many legitimate uses, simply because other people might use the tool to copy an e-book without the publisher's permission.

Federal prosecutors ultimately permitted Sklyarov to return home, but brought criminal charges against ElcomSoft. In December 2002, a jury acquitted Elcomsoft of all charges, completing an 18-month ordeal for the wrongly-accused Russian software company.21

Scientists and Programmers Withhold Research

Following the Felten and Sklyarov incidents, a number of prominent computer security experts curtailed their legitimate research activities for fear of potential DMCA liability.

For example, when Dutch cryptographer and security systems analyst Niels Ferguson discovered a major security flaw in Intel's HDCP video encryption system, he declined to publish his results on his website on the grounds that he travels frequently to the U.S. and is fearful of "prosecution and/or liability under the U.S. DMCA law."22

Following the arrest of Dmitry Sklyarov, Fred Cohen, a professor of digital forensics and respected security consultant, removed his "Forensix" evidence-gathering software from his website, citing fear of potential DMCA liability. Another respected network security protection expert, Dug Song, also removed information from his website for the same reason. Mr. Song is the author of several security papers, including a paper describing a common vulnerability in many firewalls.23

In mid-2001 an anonymous programmer discovered a vulnerability in Microsoft's proprietary e-book DRM system, but refused to publish the results, citing DMCA liability concerns.24

Foreign Scientists Avoid U.S.

Foreign scientists have expressed concerns about traveling to the U.S. following the arrest of Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov. Some foreign scientists have advocated boycotting conferences held in the United States, and some conference organizers have decided to hold events in non-U.S. locations. In 2001, Russia went so far as to issue a travel advisory to Russian programmers traveling to the United States.25

Highly respected British Linux programmer Alan Cox resigned from the USENIX committee of the Advanced Computing Systems Association, the committee that organizes many of the U.S. computing conferences, because of concerns about traveling to the United States. He also urged USENIX to move its annual conference offshore.26

The International Information Hiding Workshop Conference, the conference at which Professor Felten's team intended to present its original SDMI watermarking paper, chose to break with tradition and held its next conference outside of the U.S. following the DMCA threat to Professor Felten and his team.27

IEEE Wrestles with DMCA

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which publishes 30 per cent of all computer science journals worldwide, has also grappled with the uncertainties created by the DMCA. Apparently concerned about possible DMCA liability, the IEEE in November 2001 instituted a policy requiring all authors to indemnify IEEE for any liabilities incurred should a submission result in legal action.

After an outcry from IEEE members, the organization ultimately revised its submission policies, removing mention of the DMCA. According to Bill Hagen, manager of IEEE Intellectual Property Rights, "The Digital Millennium Copyright Act has become a very sensitive subject among our authors. It's intended to protect digital content, but its application in some specific cases appears to have alienated large segments of the research community."28

2600 Magazine Censored

The Universal City Studios v. Reimerdes case illustrates the chilling effect that section 1201 has had on the freedom of the press.

In that case, eight major motion picture companies brought DMCA claims against 2600 Magazine seeking to block it from publishing DeCSS, a software program that defeats the CSS encryption used on DVD movies. 2600 had made the program available on its web site in the course of its ongoing coverage of the controversy surrounding the DMCA. The magazine was not involved in the development of software, nor was it accused of having used the software for any copyright infringement.

Notwithstanding the First Amendment's guarantee of a free press, the district court permanently barred 2600 from publishing, or even linking to, the DeCSS software code. In November 2001, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court decision.29

In essence, the movie studios effectively obtained a "stop the presses" order banning the publication of truthful information by a news publication concerning a matter of public concern—an unprecedented curtailment of well-established First Amendment principles.30

CNET Reporter Feels Chill

CNET News reporter Declan McCullagh confronted the chilling effect of the DMCA firsthand. While research a story in 2002, he found four documents on the public website of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The website disclosed that the documents contained information about airport security procedures, the relationship between federal and local police, and a "liability information sheet." A note on the site stated that this "information is restricted to airport management and local law enforcement." The documents were distributed in encrypted form and a password was required to open and read them.

McCullagh obtained the passwords from an anonymous source, but did not open the documents, citing concerns that using a password without authorization might violate the DMCA.31 This is particularly ironic, as any foreign journalist beyond the reach of the DMCA would be free to use the password.

"Journalists traditionally haven't worried about copyright law all that much, " said McCullagh, "But nowadays intellectual property rights have gone too far, and arguably interfere with the newsgathering process."32

Texas Instruments Targets Calculator Hobbyists

In 2009, Texas Instruments (TI) threatened three bloggers with legal action after they posted commentary about a hobbyist's success in reverse engineering the TI-83 Plus graphing calculator.33 TI's graphing calculators contain technical measures that prevent users from installing alternative operating systems. When a hobbyist reverse engineered this system in order to help others run their own "home brew" operating systems, he wrote about it online. Three bloggers (Brandon Wilson, Tom Cross and Duncan Smith) subsequently posted their own commentary on the results.

TI sent the bloggers letters threatening legal action under the DMCA. This despite the fact that there was no hint of "piracy" in the blogger's activities; in fact, TI made the TI-83 Plus software freely available in unencrypted format both online and in the calculators themselves.

Although the bloggers initially complied with TI's demands and removed the content, they subsequently reposted it after EFF responded to TI on their behalf.34

Microsoft Threatens Slashdot

In spring 2000, Microsoft invoked the DMCA against the Internet publication forum Slashdot, demanding that forum moderators delete materials relating to Microsoft's proprietary implementation of an open security standard known as Kerberos.

In the Slashdot forum, several individuals alleged that Microsoft had changed the open, non-proprietary Kerberos specification in order to prevent non-Microsoft servers from interacting with Windows 2000. Many speculated that this move was intended to force users to purchase Microsoft server software. Although Microsoft responded to this criticism by publishing its Kerberos specification, it conditioned access to the specification on agreement to a "click-wrap" license agreement that expressly forbade disclosure of the specification without Microsoft's prior consent.

Slashdot posters responded by republishing the Microsoft specification. Microsoft then invoked the DMCA, demanding that Slashdot remove the republished specifications.

In the words of Georgetown law professor Julie Cohen, "If Microsoft's interpretation of the DMCA's ban on circumvention technologies is right, then it doesn't seem to matter much whether posting unauthorized copies of the Microsoft Kerberos specification would be a fair use. A publisher can prohibit fair-use commentary simply by implementing access and disclosure restrictions that bind the entire public. Anyone who discloses the information, or even tells others how to get it, is a felon."35

GameSpy Menaces Security Researcher with DMCA

Luigi Auriemma, an independent Italian security researcher, attracted the attention of GameSpy's lawyers after publishing details on his website regarding security vulnerabilities in GameSpy's online services, including a voice chat program, Roger Wilco, and online game finder, GameSpy 3D. Before publishing the information, Auriemma had informed GameSpy and public security mailing lists of the weaknesses. GameSpy, however, had failed to address the vulnerabilities.

In November 2003, GameSpy's lawyers sent a cease and desist letter to Auriemma, threatening civil and criminal penalties under the DMCA. According to GameSpy, Auriemma was publishing key generators and other piracy tools, rather than simply vulnerability research. Whatever the merits of GameSpy's claims, the invocation of the DMCA was likely improper in light of the fact that Auriemma resides in Italy and thus is beyond the reach of the DMCA.
36 Censors TiVo Discussion

The specter of DMCA litigation has chilled speech on smaller web bulletin boards, as well. In June 2001, for example, the administrator of, a popular forum where TiVo digital video recorder owners discuss TiVo features, censored all discussion about a software program that allegedly permitted TiVo users to move video from their TiVos to their personal computers. In the words of the forum administrator, "My fear with this is more or less I h
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