Less restrictions on paying customers' rights to use copyrighted content on multiple screens would be nice. In the U.S., an overhaul of the DMCA is in order. It's ridiculous that a paying customer has to break the law to put his or her DVD collection on a media server or make a copy that plays on his tablet.
Difficult topic, I think. Because the Internet makes it so easy to to steal and/or to distribute illegal copies of copyright material.
Before the Internet, if you wanted multiple copies of a book, you pretty much had to buy them. Or go to the library. No one would have expected to be able to legally make copies of the book on a Xerox machine, even for their own use. Short excerpts for school papers maybe.
If technology now makes it easy to copy entire works, it doesn't automatically follow that the content owners should be happy about it.
While I think there will always be people who are happy stealing, I think many people would like to live within the law and reward the content creators. At least that is how I feel. However when totally stupid restrictions are placed on me, I not only will find ways around it, but if they irk me enough that I feel like not paying them at times. The problem is the artist and the distributor are often not the same person and so the wrong person basically feels the pain.
As you also say, the book companies have basically given up trying to stop illegally copying. One of my books was available for free download before it had even been officially released. When I informed the publisher, they never did anything about it even though it was clear it came from the backdoor of their editing house!
Following the book analogy, if you read a book that you borrowed from a friend, and never payed for it is it stealing as well? Or by that matter going to the library and reading a book for free? In these cases aren't you also illegally downloading the IP from the books into your head since you never payed for it? Where does one draw the line? Calling a stealer everyone who consumes IP without paying for it is oversimplistic and hides the many shades of this complex issue...
The technology issue that makes stealing or unauthorized distribution possible is completely separate from the issue of the rights of paying customers.
When you pay for content, how much are you paying for the content and how much are you paying for the media on which it is delivered? What rights does a paying customer have to consume that content on other media, or to make a backup to protect his investment?
The trend toward providing a "digital copy" disc with purchased Blu-ray or DVD titles is a step in the right direction, but it doesn't go far enough. The "digital copy" is standard def only and the activation code is good for only one use -- so if your hard drive dies and your only digital copy disappears, you're out of luck. Likewise if your master Blu-ray or DVD disc gets scratched, lost, etc.
We've all accepted the business model of re-purchasing the same content over and over when it is re-released in a higher quality format -- replacing our vinyl records with CDs, replacing our VHS movies with DVDs and then again with Blu-ray discs.
But most of us have also experienced re-purchasing the same content in the same format only because the physical media was damaged or lost. As tech savvy consumers, we are well aware of the technology that allows us to protect our content investment -- technology that also gives us much more flexibility in how we consume that content and on which devices. But if we choose to use that technology, the law makes us criminals. The behavior that should be illegal -- stealing and/or re-distributing content without payment or permission -- is what the law should address -- not whether or not a paying customer used a computer program to crack an encryption system.
This copyright debate is precisely the same as the gun control debate.
In short, one side of both debates wants to prevent bad guys from stealing content or from acquiring and shooting guns at innocent people. The other side of the debate only worries about the "rights" of those who don't break the law, and pretty much ignores the other points entirely.
In both cases, I find it very hard to take sides.
"The behavior that should be illegal -- stealing and/or re-distributing content without payment or permission -- is what the law should address -- not whether or not a paying customer used a computer program to crack an encryption system."
Agreed. The problem is, in order to protect the rights of the content creator in a credible, workable way, you can't help but affect the lawful owner of the medium too.
For example, law abiding people do not steal cars. Therefore, you might argue, law abiding people should not have to pay for, and deal with the quirks of, keys and locks and fobs. The auto companies are charging and otherwise punishing law abiding people, who wouldn't dream of stealing cars.
But those measures are the only ones that can help. That's the problem.
Not a good analogy. Because, just like you can loan a book to someone else, as you postulate, you can also loan a DVD to someone else. That's legal.
At issue here is only whether your friend should be able to copy your DVD to his hard drive, or to burn a copy on a blank DVD.
So, what mechanism do you put in place to prevent this illegal copying from happening? Unless you have an answer, the content creators have a point.