Kaleidescape makes a home media server that rips and stores DVDs a user already owns. The DVD Copy Control Association sued Kaleidescape for violating its license agreement (which is required if you want to make a device that unlocks DVDs’ CSS copy restriction — e.g. any DVD player). Today Ars Technica reports that Kaleidescape won.
This is a lower court decision and most likely will be appealed. Even if it holds up, as Ars says:
Unfortunately for consumers, the decision is a narrow one. It looks to be applicable only to commercial home media server products that store single copies of a DVD in a copy-protected form for personal use. Kaleidescape’s rips remain CSS protected on the hard drive, and Malcolm tells Ars that some parts have an “extra layer of AES-256 encryption.” So those who wish to rip their own DVD libraries for personal use will continue to operate in the murky, grey intersection of the DMCA and fair use.
This is particularly interesting for me because at SLC we are currently working on making our digital assets searchable and available on the network. Not only do we have to worry about copyright issues, but there are also these secondary issues where content we think we own (or have licensed) is actually tied up in contracts or licenses with third parties. In this case, DVD producers have negotiated DVD player manufacturers into restrictive license terms. The upshot is that legitimate users can’t freely use the content they paid for. We were never given the “free market” chance to negotiate those terms.