Judge: DMCA allows DVD Ripping

UCLA has now won their case against Ambrose Video Publishing and the Association for Information Media and Equipment (AIME). Both groups filed a lawsuit in December 2010. They alleged that UCLA violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by purchasing and using streaming software that included a DVD-ripping function. UCLA proceeded to stream DVDs that it had purchased to students and staff around January 2006, according to Ars Technica.

Ambrose and AIME argued that UCLA violated the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions by ripping copy-protected DVDs sold by Ambrose and other copyright holders. The groups argued that the DVDs were sold under a licensing agreement that prohibited rebroadcast and public display. Thus, UCLA was violating the DMCA by engaging in the activity.

UCLA stated that "fair use" gives educators broad latitude to publicly perform copyrighted works as part of instructional activities. The school noted that Ambrose's catalog stated that "all purchases by schools and libraries include public performance rights." The school also said that because the school legally owned the DVDs, it had a right to access the DVDs.

Judge Consuelo B. Marshall has now agreed with the UCLA. He noted that the plaintiffs had said that UCLA had a right to show the DVDs in their classrooms. He ruled that the streaming software was functionally equivalent. The judge stated the following in regards to the streaming service:

The type of access that students and/or faculty may have, whether overseas or at a coffee shop, does not take the viewing of the DVD out of the educational context.

The judge also stated that purchasing DVD-ripping software did not constitute "trafficking" in the software, as the plantiffs had claimed. If the rulings are upheld, this would have great implications for the DMCA. Digital Rights Management (DRM) is used to prevent even legal purchasers of the work from making copies. If lawful ownership of a DVD precludes unlawful circumvention, this would render a huge provision of the DMCA useless. It would also legalize the use of DVD-ripping tools.

In regards to the decision, Scott Waugh, UCLA executive vice chancellor and provost, stated the following:

UCLA is pleased that the court dismissed the plaintiffs' lawsuit challenging UCLA's practice of streaming previously purchased video content for educational purposes. The court ruling acknowledges what UCLA has long believed, that streaming licensed DVDs related to coursework to UCLA students over UCLA's secure network is an appropriate educational use.

UCLA has an uphill fight, however, as the decision is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Microsoft announces Xbox Live TV

Next Story

Report: $4.5 billion in US games revenue in Q2 2011

15 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

MidnightDevil said,
If you buy a DVD, why would you need to show a ripped copy to the class? I mean, besides the size issue?

Buy one disc. Rip to media server. Stream to classroom on demand. Easy.

Buy a legal DVD, download a rip from teh internets, show in the classroom. Problem?

Edited by Phouchg, Oct 5 2011, 7:02pm :

Exactly. The Supreme Court will have no issue taking the presentation rights of educational materials from educators and handing them right over to for-profit corporations. Aside from that, this judge ruled heavily upon the educational nature of this particular argument for "fair use." While I agree with the judge's determination, that also means that DVD-ripping software used for non-educational purposes likely won't change unless by rare chance an appeals court decides that Judge Marshall's interpretation was not broad enough. Regardless, I still foresee the Supreme Court taking this on so that the usual 5-4 vote squashes any glimmer of hope that education and fair use laws trump the desire of greedy corporations to make more money off of educators and students.

funny thing is at this point it don't really matter as DVD's ain't as popular as they used to be as many people online moved onto HD related stuff.

ThaCrip said,
funny thing is at this point it don't really matter

So much fail in that statement. DVD's are still very relevant, look at Redbox, Netflix, Walmart, etc. and tell us they are not.

ir0nw0lf said,

So much fail in that statement. DVD's are still very relevant, look at Redbox, Netflix, Walmart, etc. and tell us they are not.

Is that the same Netflix that seems to be trying to get rid of its DVD mailing service?

Sraf said,

Is that the same Netflix that seems to be trying to get rid of its DVD mailing service?


Doesn't mean DVD's as a whole are no longer relevant.

ir0nw0lf said,

Doesn't mean DVD's as a whole are no longer relevant.

No, but it does speak to the decline in their relevance

Sraf said,

Is that the same Netflix that seems to be trying to get rid of its DVD mailing service?

They are not getting rid of it. They are splitting it off so that it is a separate entity with separate management. They still own it.

Wow, a judge makes the correct decision (IMO) but now it will probably go before the most overturned court in the land and they will overturn the decision.

ShareShiz said,
How about other people ripping stuff for educational use ?


I'm pretty sure the DMCA didn't cover ripping parts of movies for educational, documentry use or for sampling content.

The DMCA was enforced when USA people decrypt the CSS from an entire movie without a license. There was no non-DRM software licensed for Americans that allows that, and certainly not one that allowed decypted content to a non-DRM file.