[wellylug] MPEG/DVD encoding/decoding.

Jonathan Harker jharker at massey.ac.nz
Wed May 5 12:51:47 NZST 2004

Tim Nicholas wrote:
>> DVDs are encrypted using CSS. Playing them involves decrypting the CSS 
>> first, and this is illegal unless you have a licence, which costs money. 
> I don't think you're right. What's illegal about it?

Because you are circumventing a copy prevention scheme covered under the New 
Zealand Copyright Act 1994. NZCA recognises as a separate category digital 
works like film, sound and multimedia recordings and software, and explicitly 
makes copying them illegal, but it allows criticism, review, news reporting 
and educational study or research, and home recording of television and radio 
broadcasts for personal use.

It also makes it illegal to produce or supply a means for making copies. While 
the law does not currently allow for the PURPOSES you use your copy prevention 
circumvention for (ie. using DeCSS for playback or making copies), the courts 
will consider your intent if you are prosecuted.

So although using DeCSS is illegal, it is probably not going to land you with 
a criminal record unless you are selling pirate DVDs on the internet. A bit 
like the police won't bother you if you're smoking pot on your back porch, but 
if you sell it to school kids they'll try and put you away forever.

IANAL, but I remember having this discussion with a friend of mine who is a 
music copyright lawyer.

For further reading on NZ tech, media and IP law, check out


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