A recent ruling against DVDFab outraged public consumers nationwide. Many people were already upset about the matter of internet freedom ever since the SOPA (and ACTA) debate. In March 2014, a US federal judge (Vernon Broderick to be more precise) found DVDFab guilty of copyright infringement due to its DVD ripping software. The judge then proceeded to allow the court to seize the entire internet domain, social media and everything else owned by DVDFab. With this ruling in the lawsuit against DVDFab, the freedom of speech and the freedom of the internet itself took a major blow.
DVD ripping is still somewhat of a debatable matter. What’s legal and ethical is still being negotiated before our very eyes. On one side of the debate, we have the creative user community and freedom of speech. On the other side of it, we have heavily invested multinational corporations. Often times, these parties demand that the world pay them more than the world actually possesses. For example, the music industry wants copyright infringers to pay them $75 trillion dollars in damages. This insane figure is more than five times the world’s GDP. The law currently states that ripping music CDs is legal as long as the CD ripper owns a legitimate copy of the audio. This is something even the music industry seems to accept. For some reason, ripping videos and movies isn’t quite on the same page yet. The Hollywood industry has fought really hard against the idea that movie DVD’s should ever be able to be ripped to digital backup by legitimate owners. And thus, they attacked the DVD copying software. Hollywood began their scheme by placing a weak DRM on the DVD. They then claim that any attempt to bypass the software is a violation of the anti-circumvention clause (DMCA, 17 USC 1201). That’s a legal loophole that no one expected would be exploited. Nothing should surprise us anymore when it comes to the copyright industry’s new war on technology. One of the most sophisticated tools employed by the content industry in this war is their AACS system (Advanced Access Contest System). The AACS originated in 2006. Hollywood developed the AACS to halt the access to and the copying of post-DVD disks.
The unprecedented ruling that scandalized social media and free speech activists everywhere took an even more interesting twist. According to Judge Vernon Broderick, DVDFab is now ripe for the taking: a court seizure was ordered for basically everything comprising the company’s identity. This included its domains, its social media accounts, and so on. Technically, the court ordered DVDFab to cease the use of its website, domain names and social media. However, the court went way beyond that and overstepped its bounds: it ordered all companies that have ongoing business with DVDFab to cease and desist. This includes advertising, service providers, and even payment processors. Broderick also stated that the court has a right to order domain registries to take down all of the company’s URLs.
The court seizure of DVDFab domains (and obvious collusion with corporate America) is aimed at one thing only: the complete erasure of DVDFab from the internet. If one DVD decryptor software company managed to upset the content mafia so much, the industry will clearly not stop here. We can view the court’s actions as an attempt to scale back the rights of the user community and of internet freedom. This is why the case against DVDFab is so relevant. It extends beyond copyright to the broader debate concerning internet rights and SOPA. Wherever internet freedom and the content mafia will be brought up in a debate, we should also look back at this ruling against DVDFab and the outrageous court actions that ensued.
Do you love your freedom on the internet? Then tell us about it on our Facebook page. Let your voice be heard. All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men (and women) do nothing. I know BurnWorld will continue fighting the good fight.