Napster and DeCSS: Is it about free speech or free stuff?

By Nicholas Petreley, LinuxWorld.com |  Operating Systems



As for the rest of us, we need to decide if we're going to take a stand or cooperate with the existing specification. In other words, if you truly object to the encryption of DVD content, then don't buy DVDs. Personally, I think that will accomplish absolutely squat, since plenty of people don't give a hoot how DVD content works as long as they can play movies on their DVD set-top boxes.



And you can count me as one of them. I have a small collection of DVD movies, three of which I have enjoyed watching more than once (The Matrix, Mystery Men, and Twister, in case you're interested). And if Gunther-Wahl ever produces DVDs of Angry Beavers cartoons, I'll buy them all and wear them out (although I'll make back-ups first, if possible). I really enjoy the high quality of DVDs, and it doesn't bother me in the least that the content is encrypted.



At least, it didn't bother me until I wanted to play a DVD on my Linux box. But between you and me, as frustrating and unfair as I think it is that Linux users are at a disadvantage, I won't be taking any razor blades to my wrists if it takes another year or two before Linux can play DVDs without having to jump through hoops (see Resources for a Linux DVD HOWTO). And it won't give me any more gray hair than I already have if the only legal way to play DVDs on Linux is to have the DeCSS decryption done in hardware or provided as a binary library with no source code.



Sure, it is silly and unnecessary to persist in encrypting DVD content or to keep the DeCSS code proprietary and secret. But come on, folks. There are a lot more important battles to fight, and better ways to fight them. And the best way to promote free is by creating things that are free.

Resources

  • Open DVD:

    http://www.opendvd.org
  • The Linux DVD HOWTO:

    http://helo.org/dvd/howto/DVD-Playing-HOWTO
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