which law(s) prohibit people from circumventing proprietary formats?

3 respostas [Última entrada]
Joined: 04/13/2013

The law(s) that disallow people from using free software to play CSS DVD, and MP3, MP4, etc.

Which countries does this kind of law apply to? And when did it come into effect?

Joined: 05/13/2010

The DMCA in the US in 1998 at least. Looks like its Wikipedia page says that it's based on some WIPO treaty, most countries are WIPO members and thus likely to have similar pieces of legislation...

Magic Banana

I am a member!

Joined: 07/24/2010

In the European Union, that directive, which notably prevents to circumvent DRMs, got called EUCD. It was then translated into the national legislations. In France, for instance, it was the DADVSI law. Notice that, depending on the country, the law may have been greatly weakened since then. It was the case in France where it (re)became legal to play DVDs with free software. Mainly thanks to the April association.

For Blue-ray discs, the DRM is much harder to break in its entirety (that of the DVD was a shame for its designer: broken in a few seconds) because there are several keys that are revocable. It is not (only) the law that prevents us from reading the (legally acquired!) disc with free software.

As onpon4 wrote, software patents are another beast. Extremely dangerous to *all* software developers (nothing specific to multimedia formats) in countries that are fool enough to accept software patents (the USA, Japan, Australia, etc.). Most of the world (the European Union, China, India, Brazil, etc.) still consider them illegal. Nevertheless, the European Union may suffer from them soon and the European Patent Office currently grants plenty of software patents waiting for the law to change. Please read that article for detailed information: http://unitary-patent.eu/content/only-gandalf-can-protect-europe-unitary-patent

For more general information about software patents, that (now classical) 29-minute documentary is a must-see: http://patentabsurdity.com

You can listen as well that excellent two-part investigation by the the US public radio show "American Life":

  1. http://dcc.ufmg.br/~lcerf/WPA.mp3
  2. http://dcc.ufmg.br/~lcerf/WPA2.mp3

Just anticipating a valid critic: MP3 (whose patents are actively enforced by MPEG LA) was the only original format for the podcast. As you know it is a lossy format. Turning it into Vorbis would degrade even more the quality. Anyway, I can do that conversion for you if you wish.

Joined: 05/30/2012

It's only things like DVDs that are forbidden this way. Patented formats like MP3 and MP4 are patented; developing or using software that implements the idea violates the patent and can get you sued. Both patents and laws against circumvention of digital restriction mechanisms effectively censor free software, but they're otherwise different.