DVD industry is “screwing customers” – Torvalds

Linux guru lashes out at the entertainment establishment....gently, of course

The DVD industry is motivated by fear to maintain control of their technology, which at the moment is not available to Linux users from any licensed source, Linus Torvalds claimed at the LinuxWorld Expo Wednesday morning. In an obvious set-up following Torvalds' keynote address, an audience member asked, "I have Linux on my laptop, and I'd like to play DVDs on it. What have you got to say about that?" In reply, Torvalds stated with uncharacteristic bluntness that the DVD industry is willing to "screw its customers." The industry "wants control" more than anything else, he added. "Some companies just can't let go -- they need to maintain control," Torvalds said. He added that he hoped the DVD consortium would lose its lawsuit, filed recently against several Web sites where a crack to disable a security feature had been posted. The DVD security crack, developed by Norwegian teenager Jon Johansen, would enable Linux users to play DVDs with an unauthorised media player. Johansen and his sympathisers insist that the crack was developed solely for that purpose, but the industry, represented by the powerful Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), says it would enable easy pirating of content via Internet downloads. Critics have pointed out that bandwidth charges would make any such pirating scheme unprofitable, but the industry insists that the threat is real. The case is being tried in the USA, in both New York and California simultaneously. And if the DVD consortium should prevail in court, Torvalds said he hoped that "some commercial company" would license the technology and develop a media player compatible with the Linux operating system. We can't help noting that if the MPAA had devoted half as much energy to outfitting a vendor for a licensed Linux DVD player as it has squandered on pursuing lawsuits against those who have taken the matter into their own hands, this legal entanglemant would probably not have been necessary. ®

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