James Gannon Presentation – Copyright Viewed By A Lawyer – Correct Legally But Wrong – Part 1

James Gannon is a lawyer who works with Barry Sookman at McCarthy Tétrault LLP. He also has a blog called ‘IP, Innovation and Culture’ which is hosted at WordPress.com, where he expounds on ‘Intellectual Property‘ issues. Unfortunately he’s just an inaccurate as Barry is. Yes, I’m being very critical. However in his blog he writes like he knows what he is talking about, and possibly from a legal standpoint he does. But he doesn’t know copyright from either a technological point of view, or from a creator’s point of view.

James recent presentation which he highlighted on his blog with the title of ‘University of Toronto presentation on WIPO and TPMs‘ is my main concern today (you can directly download it here). Let’s look at the text in the presentation, and see how accurate it is.

His first section involves a discussion of what a ‘Technical Protection Measure‘ (TPM) is, and how it works. While it is mostly accurate, the last part has a major whopper where he claims:

CSS prevents byte-for-byte copies of DVD from being playable since such copies will not include the keys that are hidden on the lead-in area of the restricted DVD disk.

This is inaccurate, there are a variety of ways of either bypassing CSS (Content Scramble System), or of copying it. In fact CSS is probably the most ineffective TPM ever designed, so weak, that it might well as not exist.
The other issue that James doesn’t cover, is the effect of the TPM on the consumer. For example I bought a copy of Animal House a while back. It was on sale, I got it for less than $5.00. Not a bad price for the ‘Double Secret Probation Edition‘ in Wide Screen format you would think.
However Universal included about ten minutes of advertisements for other new movies at the start of the disc. Or at least they were new movies when the disk was new. Now they are old movies, and quite frankly most of them I’d never heard of, and probably would never care to see. The problem is that any time I want to watch Animal House using my upscaling DVD player, I get stuck with ten minutes of garbage before I can watch the movie. EVERY TIME. The CSS ‘Content Control’ means that I cannot bypass the garbage to get to what I want to see. Quite frankly I would have been better off downloading a copy from a Torrent site, or using a DVD ripping tool to get the content off the DVD, and then burn it onto a blank DVD.
So how does CSS benefit me, the consumer? Easy, it doesn’t. In fact it’s anti-consumer, and is costing the industry sales because of customer aversion.
This is the end of Part 1 – Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.
Wayne Borean
Tuesday April 6, 2010


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