Watching DVDs on Linux is (mostly) illegal

According to the United States' Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), it's technically illegal to watch DVDs on Linux through the most commonly used methods. Many Linux distributions, including the ever-popular Ubuntu, don't include critical out-of-the-box DVD playback components, instead requiring users to look elsewhere for the necessary libraries.

As you are probably aware, DVDs are generally encrypted, and this encryption happens to use the Content Scramble System (CSS). Companies that produce DVD players license CSS support from the DVD Copy Control Association (DVD CCA), and as part of the licensing agreement there are certain copy-protection features that must be implemented, such as the region code system; these features are available out-of-the-box in Windows and Mac OS X, but not Linux.

So what happens when you want to play a DVD back on Linux? Originally, when Linux had no way to watch video DVDs, a programmer reverse-engineered a poorly-protected DVD player to create DeCSS, which decoded CSS encryption and allowed access to the video content. Since then it has been discovered that CSS encryption is extremely weak, and can be brute-forced in mere seconds - which is exactly what the modern libdvdcss does every time you want to play a video DVD in Linux.

As libdvdcss does not license CSS support from the DVD CCA, and due to the way it circumvents the encryption methods, its use is illegal under the DMCA and other similar laws. While there have been no legal challenges against libdvdcss, breaking CSS encryption has been confirmed by the courts to be illegal, and doing so through this method technically makes you a criminal in the same way ripping a DVD is illegal.

There are legal ways to watch DVDs on Linux, such as purchasing Fluendo DVD Player for $25 that includes licensed CSS support, however most users likely download libdvdcss and VLC for free instead. It's incredibly unlikely that anyone will be hauled up to court for watching a DVD on Linux, in the same way people get away with DVD ripping for personal use, but it just goes to show what the DMCA technically classes as illegal.

Source: How-To Geek | Padlocked DVD image courtesy of Shutterstock

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Canada most recently made watching movies in linux illegal as well as ripping them for personal backup, or bypassing ANY digital lock. Calling upon parliament to answer if my 8 year old is breaking the law watching shrek on my ubuntu laptop at the airport has fallen on deaf ears, because they don't even know what laws they have legalized.. I only hope it goes both ways when they seize someones computers and they can't get by that password screen. (BTW it don't, provisions for law enforcement to wild out on any protections they want to)

Edited by srbeen, Mar 3 2013, 1:11pm :

nik louch said,
Why is this a front-page article now? Just curious, what has changed in the last 12 or so years?

I think its with the recent DMCA review of phone unlocking that made it illegal to unlock them. The review is ever few years and this year it was deemed that it was reasonable for consumers to buy phones from the carrier locked as there was enough choice.

Now, as people have pointed out, the DMCA forbids Linux users STILL to play back DVDs in Linux without a license. Even though the copy protection is worthless and buying a drive usually comes bundled with windows software but no Linux alternative. That is itself is a good case for DMCA review of CSS copy-protected playback under Linux. But, its 2013 and still the same some 10 years on..

A lot of people don't even realise what the DMCA is, or indeed if it affects them or others and as a result, don't understand why VLC can continue to distribute VLC with the css libs for free.

VLC is a French company, the USA DMCA does not apply to them. You can download the VLC software, but using it to playback DVDs is technically illegal if you're in America (or anywhere else that abides by the DMCA or akin laws.)

here in russia - if you bought dvd you can do everything you want with it. you can watch it the way you want. you can make a back up, for private use of course.

coth said,
here in russia - if you bought dvd you can do everything you want with it. you can watch it the way you want. you can make a back up, for private use of course.

same in Europe and almost the rest of the world. Just a few countries stick to the DMCA

coth said,
here in russia - if you bought dvd you can do everything you want with it. you can watch it the way you want. you can make a back up, for private use of course.

But we have to pay 1% to Mikhalkov. And this sucks.

Irony at its best. Windows 98 to 7 were all licensed for DVD playback by default, but playing a dvd using some different software (VLC) on the same system with a CSS license (windows), you suddenly are breaking the law.

'Murica! F88k yea!

It's 2013 for Christ's sake - who'd want to watch DVDs on Linux? I'm currently planning to upgrade from Blu-Ray/46" screen to Blu-Ray 3D/52" and we talk about DVDs and Linux. Bring back VHS and 14" monitors.

syncore said,
Thank you for sharing your life story, unfortunately nobody cares.

Correct, no one gives a rats patooch that you obviously have both to much time on your hands and to much money! As I've been told in another forum just because i think anyone that spends possibly thousands on a tv/entertainment and hours watching that boring crap, in the home, you need to go outside and kick a ball around!!

Um, the point I was making was that I found it a odd that there's such an article about DVDs in 2013 on a tech forum... I'm personally way more interested in 4K/8K developments, not history. And you guys seem to have a chip on your respective shoulders - chill.

Breach said,
Um, the point I was making was that I found it a odd that there's such an article about DVDs in 2013 on a tech forum... I'm personally way more interested in 4K/8K developments, not history. And you guys seem to have a chip on your respective shoulders - chill.

That's great and all, but I have to ask.. what did you do with your existing DVD collection? .. just throw it away and rebuy the movies on bluray?

As you said, it IS 2013 and we're STILL having to put up with silly laws making it technically illegal for some people to watch DVD movies they've PAID for.
While I understand that the developers and patent owners of the CSS protection want paying for its use on copy-protecting DVDS, the technology used no longer provides protection. It's less then a warning sticker on the cover of the case saying please don't copy me... and we aren't even talking about making copies at the moment, simply playback.

Um... Did I miss something? Last time I checked, a judge overruled the DMCA, declaring the cracking of any DRM is legal if it's done for the personal use of purchased media. The focus for the case was ripping DVDs for personal, specifically cracking CSS, which would apply to libdvdcss.

You have a lot to do today, as indicated above:
- recalibrate your sarcasm meter
- reduce naivette emitter output
- remove Linux-troll module altogether

Last time I checked, DMCA is an American Law, this law does not apply to other countries, much as America would like.

affy1977 said,
Last time I checked, DMCA is an American Law, this law does not apply to other countries, much as America would like.

But the 99% of content you watch is made by.........guess who.........

So it does apply.

pes2013 said,

But the 99% of content you watch is made by.........guess who.........

So it does apply.

No it doesn't. Just because you distribute products to foreign countries doesn't mean your laws suddenly apply there.

Doesn't matter 'cause as soon as you want to sell it outside the US you have to abide foreign laws and US laws are no longer valid...

ichi said,

No it doesn't. Just because you distribute products to foreign countries doesn't mean your laws suddenly apply there.


Incorrect, to a certain point.

I'm starting to welcome the idea of a "New World Order" more and more according to what the Georgia Guide Stones promise... It says "be rid of petty laws and officials", which this apparently falls under xD

Hello,

I purchased an external USB 2.0 DVD±RW disc drive from Toshiba, specifically because it listed Linux compatibility on the box. When I opened it up, I found that the CD bundled with it included both Windows and Linux DVD playing software. Corel's (formerly InterVideo's) LinDVD software, to be precise.

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky

goretsky said,

I purchased an external USB 2.0 DVD±RW disc drive from Toshiba, specifically because it listed Linux compatibility on the box. When I opened it up, I found that the CD bundled with it included both Windows and Linux DVD playing software. Corel's (formerly InterVideo's) LinDVD software, to be precise.

Fixed

the fee should come from the sale of dvd drives/players.. in fact every dvd drive should have the functionality built into it's hardware. there's no reason for that function to be in software.

seta-san said,
the fee should come from the sale of dvd drives/players.. in fact every dvd drive should have the functionality built into it's hardware. there's no reason for that function to be in software.

A DVD drive is not only for watching DVDs. Why the **** should I pay extra so irrelevant Linux users can watch DVDs?

Also If the dvd drive decodes the video, you're basically beaming straight up unencrypted video directly to the PC? Then WTF is the point of copy protection? Also, DVD drives would cost much much more.

vcfan said,

A DVD drive is not only for watching DVDs. Why the **** should I pay extra so irrelevant Linux users can watch DVDs?

Begin able to use them for other purposes does not negate the primary reason for their existence; watching video content.

FloatingFatMan said,

Begin able to use them for other purposes does not negate the primary reason for their existence; watching video content.

ho oh no it isn't.

DVDs use the ISO standards, and the DVD book standards are based up on that. Unlike a music CD, that uses an actual audio track or a VHS tape that uses a video and audio track. DVD movies use FILES on a data track.

DVDs were designed, and their primary existence, was for digital storage. It just so happens that DVD movie play back uses a DVD with digital files that can be read by things other then a computer.

sagum said,

Do most Linux users fall under the DMCA?

I highly doubt it, but the DCMA isn't the only law in the world that enforces the breaking of any digital lock as illegal.

It's a good thing I don't buy DVD's and I stopped running Linux. Nothing against Linux as an OS, I just think Linux is best on servers and mobile devices. DVDs are just clutter these days.

DarkNet said,
It's a good thing I don't buy DVD's and I stopped running Linux. Nothing against Linux as an OS, I just think Linux is best on servers and mobile devices. DVDs are just clutter these days.

Dropping linux because of this bs is silly.

Only if that Antigua DVD has CSS already removed, otherwise you are STILL bypassing a digital lock, and STILL breaking the law - even though the DVD is counterfeit & legal.

"Sosumi". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sosumi

Fact 1: I buy all my DVDs.
Fact 2: I've had about three or four DVD players in the past. That means I paid for 3 or 4 CSS licenses. So I am entitled to use libdvdcss on 3 or 4 computers.
Fact 3: All my computers came pre-installed with Windows, so I have already "purchased" CSS licenses for watching DVDs. It should not matter what OS I use. The license should be part of the DVD hardware.

In addition, Linux is open source. I look at libdvdcss like a backyard hobby project (which works really well by the way). If I wanted to come up with my own CSS library for personal interest and freely distribute the code, why couldn't I?

CSS support is not in Windows 8 by default from my understanding. So someone is missing out on a whole lot of cash.

Edited by 68k, Mar 3 2013, 2:03am :

The license should be part of the DVD hardware, but it isn't entirely. Also, CSS is included in Windows 8, MPEG (and other) codecs are the components missing for DVD playback.

68k said,
"Sosumi". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sosumi

Fact 1: I buy all my DVDs.
Fact 2: I've had about three or four DVD players in the past. That means I paid for 3 or 4 CSS licenses. So I am entitled to use libdvdcss on 3 or 4 computers.
Fact 3: All my computers came pre-installed with Windows, so I have already "purchased" CSS licenses for watching DVDs. It should not matter what OS I use. The license should be part of the DVD hardware.

In addition, Linux is open source. I look at libdvdcss like a backyard hobby project (which works really well by the way). If I wanted to come up with my own CSS library for personal interest and freely distribute the code, why couldn't I?

CSS support is not in Windows 8 by default from my understanding. So someone is missing out on a whole lot of cash.

Windows 8 has full CSS support. This is different to the DVD codec they dropped.

68k said,
If I wanted to come up with my own CSS library for personal interest and freely distribute the code, why couldn't I?

It depends where you live. If you're in France or another country that does not recognize software patents, you can. If you live in the US, it is illegal to use reverse engineering techniques to circumvent digital rights managements technology per DMCA.

Someone did a slideshow about this in class, apparently it's not illegal because someone from the company 'accidentally' gave out one of the codes or something thus rendering it no longer a company secret and the method was reverse engineered in linux, macrovision? tried sueing the people that came up with the original C code to circumvent the protection and lost due to it being reverse engineered, it was legal.

n_K said,
Someone did a slideshow about this in class, apparently it's not illegal because someone from the company 'accidentally' gave out one of the codes or something thus rendering it no longer a company secret and the method was reverse engineered in linux, macrovision? tried sueing the people that came up with the original C code to circumvent the protection and lost due to it being reverse engineered, it was legal.

A bit like a Wendy's burger this comment lacks any good sources.

Are you being serious? Blu Rays haven't taken over to that degree yet and not everything is available to stream.

Last time I checked. VLC is a French effort, and since France does not recognise software patents, this means that the player can be distributed legally. Weather it is actually legal to use the software in your country to play DVD's, BD's or any other unlicensed lib's is a different matter.

But if it is illegal to use such software in the UK, I'm going to openly say that I guess that I'm a criminal. Because if their going to send me to jail or fine me for playing the content that I paid for. I would be happy to endure a legal battle, that will bring to light just how Orwellian copy right has become.

VLC is still legal, in fact this really has nothing to do with VLC. It's the separate library that is used for decoding the DVD encryption, which comes separately (as far as I'm aware)

Don't you already pay the fees to play DVDs when you buy a DVD reader for PC. Most of them (anyway the 2 i bought) come with a free DVD player software but for windows only. If the fees to play DVDs are included in the price of the DVD reader then it should not be illegal at all to play them on Linux using the necessary means.

It probably shouldn't be illegal, but it is, because for the license to be valid it must utilize all components including the software-side copy protection (CSS). You have a license to use it in Windows and Mac OS X, but not Linux

LaP said,
Don't you already pay the fees to play DVDs when you buy a DVD reader for PC. Most of them (anyway the 2 i bought) come with a free DVD player software but for windows only. If the fees to play DVDs are included in the price of the DVD reader then it should not be illegal at all to play them on Linux using the necessary means.

The licensing fee is not for the PC, but for the software. If you are not using the bundled software, then you are playing DVDs in an unlicensed manner.

This is why Microsoft removed the DVD player from Windows 8. They went to the DVD patent pool and pointed out that a lot of Windows PCs were paying for two licenses -- once for the built-in Windows license, and another for the OEM-bundled DVD player software.

Microsoft asked if it could pay only when the OEM does not bundle a DVD player. The DVD patent pool said no. How about only when the computer actually has a DVD drive? (Lots of ultrabooks and tablets do not.) The DVD patent pool said no. How about if Media Player contacted an activation server the first time the user attempted to play a DVD, so that Microsoft would not pay if DVD playback functionality goes unused? The DVD patent pool said no.

The only way that Microsoft could avoid paying for a license was to strip out the DVD playback functionality from Media Player. So that's what they did.

If Microsoft could not hitchhike on the OEM-bundled software DVD playback license, then it's pretty clear that Linux users also cannot.

LaP said,
Don't you already pay the fees to play DVDs when you buy a DVD reader for PC. Most of them (anyway the 2 i bought) come with a free DVD player software but for windows only. If the fees to play DVDs are included in the price of the DVD reader then it should not be illegal at all to play them on Linux using the necessary means.

This is just another stoopid money grab. the people with money want more, which they already got plenty.

TomJones said,

The licensing fee is not for the PC, but for the software. If you are not using the bundled software, then you are playing DVDs in an unlicensed manner.

This is why Microsoft removed the DVD player from Windows 8. They went to the DVD patent pool and pointed out that a lot of Windows PCs were paying for two licenses -- once for the built-in Windows license, and another for the OEM-bundled DVD player software.

Microsoft asked if it could pay only when the OEM does not bundle a DVD player. The DVD patent pool said no. How about only when the computer actually has a DVD drive? (Lots of ultrabooks and tablets do not.) The DVD patent pool said no. How about if Media Player contacted an activation server the first time the user attempted to play a DVD, so that Microsoft would not pay if DVD playback functionality goes unused? The DVD patent pool said no.

The only way that Microsoft could avoid paying for a license was to strip out the DVD playback functionality from Media Player. So that's what they did.

If Microsoft could not hitchhike on the OEM-bundled software DVD playback license, then it's pretty clear that Linux users also cannot.


What if we don't like the bundled dvd playing software?what happened to choice?

Microsoft could have offered DVD playback as an optional Microsoft Update install so that a) it wouldn't be there by default which seems to be the problem of the DVD patent pool b) they can also track and pay per download. However, I agree with their adopted approach because now only people who really want it can get it and pay for it. This allows Microsoft to save money which theoretically is also good for the average end user.

That's one of the reasons most vendors also offer 'barebones' OEM versions of just the hardware with no software, box or manual ;-) If you already have software or want to use different one you can get on of those or pay the premium and never use the bundled one.

LaP said,
Don't you already pay the fees to play DVDs when you buy a DVD reader for PC. Most of them (anyway the 2 i bought) come with a free DVD player software but for windows only. If the fees to play DVDs are included in the price of the DVD reader then it should not be illegal at all to play them on Linux using the necessary means.

You know...that is a very good point!! Not that having a legal copy of software that runs on Windows gives you the right to run other software on other platforms. But, if they hardware DVD drives already include playback software, why didn't they license them in such a way to cover the hardware, instead of the software?

TomJones said,

Microsoft asked if it could pay only when the OEM does not bundle a DVD player. The DVD patent pool said no.

How about only when the computer actually has a DVD drive? (Lots of ultrabooks and tablets do not.) The DVD patent pool said no.

How about if Media Player contacted an activation server the first time the user attempted to play a DVD, so that Microsoft would not pay if DVD playback functionality goes unused? The DVD patent pool said no.


Sounds more like the problem is the patent pool.

After everything the entertainment industry has done to stick it to consumers over the last ten years, it's no surprise people feel entitled to steal music, movies, etc. It isn't right, and it's certainly not legal. But I do understand the reasoning, as flawed as it may be. Hopefully changes like Microsoft not paying for as many media licenses will teach the industry and consumers alike to be less aggressive about screwing each other over.

FloatingFatMan said,

Easy, buy one you DO like.

So I should donate to vlc...or maybe fund their kickstarter?

ctrl_alt_delete said,
and then here goes the rants against all things software license

Agreed, it if frustrating how people do not understand licenses or IP. Its like people feel that all development work is done as a donation and those people should not earn any money for their work.

JaredFrost said,
Filthy criminals, they need to start cracking down on these scum that watch the DVDs they purchase.

So linux users are criminals for watching dvd's they purchased?i hope your not serious.

soldier1st said,

So linux users are criminals for watching dvd's they purchased?i hope your not serious.

whoosh

soldier1st said,

So linux users are criminals for watching dvd's they purchased?i hope your not serious.

You really need to calibrate your sarcasm meter, it isn't functioning properly

That's spinning it. The article specifically says it's illegal to use specific playback software which employs illegal mechanisms to decode DVDs.

Breach said,
That's spinning it. The article specifically says it's illegal to use specific playback software which employs illegal mechanisms to decode DVDs.

Which is silly. The law should look at WHY someone is doing something, not just WHAT they're doing.

Other areas of the law incorporate this kind of logical thinking; for example, if I punch somebody in the face in self-defence, it's not a crime.

In this situation, the law should take into account what the illegal decoding is actually being used to do. If it is simply to watch a DVD somebody has bought, then what's the problem?

Well, the law doesn't care why Johnny is selling drugs, it cares what he's selling... The science which deals with the 'why' part is called sociology.

DVD decoding requires a license payment - just like Dolby and the rest of the bunch. Normally the vendor is supposed to pay that fee for you (as part of the overall price or separately) which isn't the case here. In an ideal world media will be based on royalty free algorithms, but as the current ones are made by companies which happen to operate for generating a profit they do expect to receive their $0.02. If this is ever enforced (and I'm willing to bet it won't) it will actually be against the vendor/maker, and not the end user. Unless the vendor specifically stated that use of his software may implicate you in illegal activities.

To illustrate better your example - I don't think a court would agree that it's alright to steal a DVD player because you wanted to watch your legal DVD collection.

Breach said,
Well, the law doesn't care why Johnny is selling drugs, it cares what he's selling... The science which deals with the 'why' part is called sociology.

DVD decoding requires a license payment - just like Dolby and the rest of the bunch. Normally the vendor is supposed to pay that fee for you (as part of the overall price or separately) which isn't the case here. In an ideal world media will be based on royalty free algorithms, but as the current ones are made by companies which happen to operate for generating a profit they do expect to receive their $0.02. If this is ever enforced (and I'm willing to bet it won't) it will actually be against the vendor/maker, and not the end user. Unless the vendor specifically stated that use of his software may implicate you in illegal activities.

Parts of the law take the why into account and others don't.

I think the vendor/maker has done something wrong by circumventing the licence fee, but the end user simply wants to watch something they have paid for. There is no difference in the intent of the end user whether they watch something using illegal or legal software. They've already paid for the DVD and equipment with which to watch it.

> but the end user simply wants to watch something they have paid for.

I completely can agree with that. However, to be completely legal besides the DVD and the equipment you also need to have a license. With hardware it's typically included with software... well, you have an example here.

As to how the law would look at it - If you buy a stolen car the DA can still charge you if they think you knew the car was stolen (and can prove it). You'd have to prove you acted in good faith. Frankly with all this free software the risks should be clearly communicated to the user before they decide that free also = legal. That's one problem you don't have with commercial software - they take care of all these super technical details for the average Joe.

Breach said,
> but the end user simply wants to watch something they have paid for.

I completely can agree with that. However, to be completely legal besides the DVD and the equipment you also need to have a license. With hardware it's typically included with software... well, you have an example here.

As to how the law would look at it - If you buy a stolen car the DA can still charge you if they think you knew the car was stolen (and can prove it). You'd have to prove you acted in good faith. Frankly with all this free software the risks should be clearly communicated to the user before they decide that free also = legal. That's one problem you don't have with commercial software - they take care of all these super technical details for the average Joe.

Super technical? Purchasing = ownership. It's THEM that doesn't understand the blindingly obvious and needs someone to explain it to them.

Didn't Micosoft drop "out of the box" support for playing DVD's in Windows 8?

Now you have to buy a 3rd party player??

And of course this is only a US ruling, not a world wide one, despite the fact the US thinks it IS the entire world.

dvb2000 said,
Didn't Micosoft drop "out of the box" support for playing DVD's in Windows 8?

Now you have to buy a 3rd party player??

Windows Media Center (with DVD playback) was a free add-on for Win 8 until January 31st. But VLC Player is totally free and will play DVD's and anything else you throw at it. But if you're still using DVD's in 2013, you're doing it wrong.

dvb2000 said,
And of course this is only a US ruling, not a world wide one, despite the fact the US thinks it IS the entire world.

Haha so true.

soldier1st said,
Are you serious? why throw out a perfectly good linux pc?

Are YOU serious? This comment and your other comment below... stupidity ... too ... high...

1Pixel said,

Windows Media Center (with DVD playback) was a free add-on for Win 8 until January 31st. But VLC Player is totally free and will play DVD's and anything else you throw at it. But if you're still using DVD's in 2013, you're doing it wrong.

How can VLC still be free and be able to play DVDs?

wolftail said,
How can VLC still be free and be able to play DVDs?

because its made in France, and the frogs don't recognise US copyright laws

wolftail said,

How can VLC still be free and be able to play DVDs?


Using VLC to play DVDs is also technically illegal in the US

dvb2000 said,

because its made in France, and the frogs don't recognise US copyright laws

And rightly so, most US patents are retarded. Specifically France doesn't recognise software as patentable.

It's also "illegal" to watch it on Windows using software like VLC if you didn't purchase the codecs. This of course if you live in the US. It can be "legal" to watch DVD's in Linux while in the US if you purchase the codecs, just the same as in Windows...

The article is misleanding and can be seen as FUD, it doesn't make reference to Windows, as the same applie to that platform. FUD at it's best. Thank you for this, NEOWIN.

Now This : "But if you're still using DVD's in 2013, you're doing it wrong." is a prime example of This : " despite the fact the US thinks it IS the entire world." - Since millions of computer users that do NOT reside in the US still do NOT have access to affordable digital solutions. For example, in South Africa, the cheapest 21mbps connection with 1 gig data will cost you $15, that is US dollars. We simply can't afford to throw away DVDs just yet.

Dewald P Montgomery said,
Now This : "But if you're still using DVD's in 2013, you're doing it wrong." is a prime example of This : " despite the fact the US thinks it IS the entire world." - Since millions of computer users that do NOT reside in the US still do NOT have access to affordable digital solutions. For example, in South Africa, the cheapest 21mbps connection with 1 gig data will cost you $15, that is US dollars. We simply can't afford to throw away DVDs just yet.

I have a collection of around 270 DVD movies, There is no way I'm doing it wrong if I want to use one of them DVD discs in 2013. I sure has hell aren't going to re-buy them on Bluray since most of them are old enough not to even warrant 720p let along 1080p.
In saying that, the majority of the ones I enjoy are ripped to my PC and I stream them using plex to my Roku(tv) and Windows Phone using plex.

xn--bya said,

Using VLC to play DVDs is also technically illegal in the US

How is using VLC to play a DVD on Windows/Mac/etc. technically illegal? That's like saying using Napster or hosting links to torrent files are illegal... they're not.

What's illegal is using those tools for illegal purposes.

Nas said,

How is using VLC to play a DVD on Windows/Mac/etc. technically illegal? That's like saying using Napster or hosting links to torrent files are illegal... they're not.

What's illegal is using those tools for illegal purposes.

Not true.

The copy protection, CSS algorithm, is a licensed product in itself from DVD Copy Control Association. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVD_CCA.

The license to decrypt DVDs is sold to authorise applications to decode and let us watch copy-protected DVDs, this includes products such as PowerDVD, Nero etc.

VLC itself does not include this license, it's not paid DVD-CCA any money for the CSS algorithm, to decode copy protected DVDs. Instead, it uses brute force to exploit a weakness in the CSS code that makes up the copy protection.

So when you use VLC and are under the DMCA and use it to view DVDs, regardless of if you've paid for Windows, or Power DVD, you're illegally using it to bypass copy protection since it's not licensed to decrypt the copy protection on DVDs.

Under the DMCA you're not allowed to by-pass the copy protection, it's illegal to do so. There for, it's illegal regardless of how VLC is used if you're under the DMCA.

Now, other countries where DMCA doesn't apply, like France, means they can brute force the CSS and not have to pay for a license to do the same thing (using the CSS algorithm) in a different way (VLC's brute force) to achieve the same thing (view the DVD with copy protection).

As far as I'm concerned, I bought the DVD and I'll play it using whatever mechanism suits me best at hand. Perhaps if PowerDVD et al didn't insist on bundling so much crap with their software I might consider buying it.

In the majority of the world purchasing = ownership. Someone should get the idiots at the DVD Copy Control Association up to speed.

DMCA needs revised, badly, for many reasons. But with regards to this topic, in my view purchasing the DVD (or any physical media with copyrighted content) should inherently, by law, grant you the right to decrypt and view it. In other words, copyrighted content that is distributed by license, should have the license tied to the media as a single object that cannot be separated. The fact that it doesn't work that way just goes to show how messed up US law is.