Bill Gates once told a room of bloggers that he thought digital rights management (DRM) was “too painful” for the average consumer and that he didn’t think anyone had gotten it right yet. He added that people might as well just buy CDs and encode them to their portable players, since that was the best way to stay legal. He may be right about the “too painful” part, but as for staying legal part—he may not be.
Even after the successful crack down on file sharing services like Napster and the implementation of rights-protected music services like iTunes, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) show no signs of slowing down on the amount of lawsuits they are willing to file against technologies they believe threaten the bottom line of their members. One of the most recent cases is a lawsuit filed against a company called Load ‘N Go Video that sells both DVDs and video iPods. But it also offers a service that loads DVDs the customer purchases onto the iPod he or she orders. The customer is then shipped both the iPod and the original DVDs (note: currently Load ‘N Go Video has suspended its service).
The plaintiffs in the case, called Paramount Pictures v. Load ‘N Go Video, argue that the action of copying the DVD to an iPod is illegal, because ripping a DVD requires the embedded DRM to be bypassed, and violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998. The suit also claims that the service constitutes a violation of the 1976 Copyright Act, because the business is making the copy, not the actual consumer who purchased the copyrighted material.