PermaLink Home theatres illegal?11/30/2006 04:58 PM

From the Department of WTF, I ran across a report saying that the MPAA wants to force you to pay them if you have a "home theatre."  Read their hilarious definition of what that is, then puke.
I'm hoping we'll have a more fair-use-friendly Congress in January, because right now, there are scattered reports that the Motion Picture Association of America is trying to get Congress to take up a bill which would essentially allow the MPAA to regulate "home theatres."

Now, for the reality of it, which is that the site from which the report originates is a rather subtle satire site, BBSpot (another article on there right now is titled "Babies Banned From Flying."  The MPAA article is a gag.  Still, the article sounds plausible enough that a lot of people have gotten pretty mad about the idea, not because it's ridiculous, but because most of us can picture the MPAA actually trying a stunt like this.

Increasingly, the move in the media industry is to remove the pesky fair-use rules which have allowed you and me to do a fairly wide array of things with the media we own and paid for.  It's legal to rent videotapes and DVDs (the movie industry bitterly opposed this until they discovered they could make money at it, remember).  It's legal to lend media to others.  It's legal to have your friends over and watch your anniversary-edition DVD of Reservoir Dogs.  You can record your CDs to tape, or rip them and put them on your iPod.  You can back up your PC's data and programs.

But look at things that have been nibbling at the edge of your rights in recent times.  Microsoft was only narrowly talked out of making it nearly impossible to transfer your copy of Windows Vista to another PC (assuming you're stupid enough to acquire Vista).  They left in a "feature" which largely disables your PC if Microsoft decides -- at their sole discretion -- that your copy of Vista isn't legal.  Look at the idiotic song-sharing thing they put into the laughable Zune music player, where even if you own the rights to the media on your Zune, if you share it with someone else using the crippled Wi-Fi function in the player, Microsoft wraps your free, open content in its own proprietary digital-rights management code.   After three days, whatever you send to a friend goes poof.  In essence, Microsoft thinks it's impossible that anyone who isn't a large media corporation could possible actually own content.

I won't even talk about the RIAA's moronic attempts to prosecute old ladies and children for "music piracy."  They're very fond of blaming "piracy" for the fall-off in CD sales, and conveniently ignore the fact that most people aren't all that interested in buying the mostly-shitty, soundalike music the major labels have cranked out for the past ten years in nearly every genre.  There are people I know who aren't even interested in "stealing" said shitty music.  Thus, the idea that they'd buy it is pretty implausible.  There's never been anything that showed that every shared copy of a song represents the loss of a sale of an entire CD, but that's what the record industry thinks, and unfortunately, they've talked old buzzards like Orrin Hatch of Utah into believing their BS.

So, I'll hope we have a more fair-use-friendly Congress in a couple of months.

In the mean time, keep on moving to open-source and Creative Commons.  You do still have rights, but not if you sell them out to the MPAA, the RIAA, and Microshit.

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