On Monday a ruling by a California judge suggested that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) allows for DVD ripping if you own the DVD in question. More importantly, educational institutions are entitled to stream legally purchased DVDs on campus without the permission of copyright holders.
The decision was for a lawsuit brought by a trade association of educational video publishers called the Association for Information Media and Equipment (AIME), and one of its members, Ambrose Video Publishing. The plaintiffs in the case alleged that in January 2006, UCLA purchased video streaming software that included a DVD-ripping capability, and began streaming DVDs it had purchased (including some belonging to Ambrose) to members of the UCLA community.
Ambrose and AIME sued the college in December 2010, alleging copyright infringement, breach of contract, and other harms. They argued in court that the college violated the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA when it ripped Ambrose's copy-protected DVDs. They also argued that their DVDs are sold under a licensing agreement that prohibits rebroadcast and public display.
UCLA argued in court that the copyright's fair use doctrine gives educators broad latitude to publicly perform copyrighted works as part of their instructional activities. They also noted that Ambrose's own catalog states that "All purchases by schools and libraries include public performance rights." UCLA argued that because the school was the lawful owner of the DVDs at issue, it had a right to access the DVDs and therefore could not have violated the ban on circumventing access-control measures.
Judge Consuelo B. Marshall sided with UCLA. He noted that the plaintiffs conceded that UCLA had the right to show its DVDs in the classroom, and ruled that UCLA's streaming service was a functional equivalent to that right. "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," he wrote. Marshall also ruled that UCLA's copies of the DVDs were incidental to its lawful streaming service, and was therefore fair use.
"UCLA is pleased that the court dismissed the plaintiffs' lawsuit challenging UCLA's practice of streaming previously purchased video content for educational purposes," said Scott Waugh, UCLA executive vice chancellor and provost. "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."
The decision is expected to be appealed by the plaintiffs and sent to the Ninth Circuit court for review.
Source: Ars Technica