Judge vs. Internet – Unclear Outcome

There has been a cat and mouse game between the movie studios and hackers since there were digital versions of movies.

The encryption that was on the original movie DVDs, CSS (content scrambling system), was cracked in a matter of a few days.

For Blu-Ray and HD DVDs, they created a new system, AACS (Advanced Access Content System) has been cracked several times, including by a software product called DVDFab.  DVDFab has cracked it before, but AACS is dynamic so the movie houses change it a bit and it all starts over.

Well this time the AACS consortium got a judge to agree that they were breaking the law by selling this software.  Breaking encryption that is used to control your usage of a movie violates the digital millennium copyright act and the studios fought hard to get that law passed.

This is where the simple part ends.

DVDFab is made by Fengtao, a Chinese company – well outside the reach of a judge in NY.

So the judge instead said that their domain names should be taken down and their credit card processors shouldn’t process payments (see article) for them.

The judge can probably say that to Facebook USA, but it is highly unlikely that the Chinese domain registrar for DVDFab.cn is really going to be too terribly concerned about the opinion of some judge in New York.

So, what actually happened?

  • Google removed search results to the U.S. DVDFab sites, but not the foreign domains (like DVDFab.cn)
  • Facebook froze their accounts, but the pages still display – they just cannot be updated
  • Twitter has shutdown some of the accounts – only those that contain the exact name of the software.
  • The U.S. based domain registries have stopped resolving the domain names, but not the foreign registries (except Japan).

Will this have much effect on customers who want the software?  That is unclear.  Most people who use a product like DVDFab understand that they are fighting against the DMCA, but probably don’t care.  They hark back to the Betamax ruling that said what you did in your own home, for yourself, was OK.  Whether that is true in this case is probably not relevant to those people and as long as they don’t advertise the fact that they are doing it, they are likely to avoid the radar of the studios.

It will have some effect on DVDFab – they will likely rebrand the software.  They already are using the DVDFab.CN domain name.

My guess is that this is a victory for the studios in name only and will have very little long term effect on the piracy of their movies.

My two cents.

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