If Remote DVRs Are Legal… What About Remote DVD Players?
from the pushing the boundaries dept
Technology often demonstrates just how ridiculous our copyright laws are. We were just discussing the legality of remote DVRs, which have been found to be legal in the US and Singapore, but infringing in South Korea and Japan (Update: as pointed out in the comments, there are still some liability questions in the US, concerning whether or not a remote DVR provider could have secondary liability — but I can’t see how there would be secondary liability without direct infringement, and since time shifting for personal use is not infringement…). Of course, if a remote DVR is legal… then what about a remote DVD player. It seems like that should be legal as well. As TorrentFreak points out, that’s exactly what the streaming movie service Zediva is testing. The company lets you stream movies online — including movies that the studios haven’t licensed for streaming. How? Because it’s literally renting the DVD you want, putting it in a networked DVD player, and letting you (and only you) stream the results.
Of course, I imagine the studios will go ballistic (and legalistic) quickly on this one, but it’s difficult to argue with the basic premise. After all, if both time-shifting and place-shifting are legal, then what wrong is being done here? Why should it require a separate streaming license? No matter how you think about it, the situation demonstrates that today’s copyright laws are confused. After all, if it’s perfectly legal for you to set up a DVD player in your own house, and then watch that remotely (e.g., via a Slingbox), why should it not be legal to have a company host the DVD player, and you just watch from home? There’s no good reason why the two should be treated differently.
But, at the same time, Enigmax at TorrentFreak properly points out that from a technological perspective, this whole thing is stupid. It’s purposely downgrading what the technology allows:
So while the system to get round the usual studio imposed release window nonsense is quite clever, it is also ridiculously old fashioned. It’s 2011 and we?re relying on physical DVDs and DVD players? Getting messages that someone else has rented the movie needed already?
These problems were largely solved a decade ago and any torrent, streaming, or decent file-hosting site today can provide a better service than this in the blink of an eye.
Except Hollywood won’t let them, legally at least.
In other words, if we can agree that the location of the DVD player is meaningless if you’re watching the movie at home, can’t we also agree that the physical medium on which the content is stored is meaningless? Is it really that different if you’re sitting in your house watching a remote DVD of the movie… or content streaming from a remote hard drive? It seems to matter, deeply, to those in Hollywood, but from a technology standpoint, it seems completely nonsensical.