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Old May 12, 10, 3:34 pm   #1
 
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CBP officer gave me a stern warning that my laptop shouldn't have ripped DVD/Blu-ray

on a recent returning trip, my luggage was searched... they found nothing(no excessive booze or smokes, or food/plants.... which I never bring... obviously)

However, the officer asked if he could "take a look at my laptop" and I said fine. Well.. what else can I say? I don't use my laptop for work, so it contains no business information or the blueprint to my plan to colonize Mars.

He and another officer powered it up and looked around. He told me he saw several movies on my hard drive and wanted to know if they were enough to keep me entertained on the long flight. (they were still in a very polite/friendly mood) I said I didn't get to watch any of them on this trip because I fell asleep, but maybe on the connecting flight home I'll finish up the move. The 2nd officer even said "that movie was funny.... I saw it twice...." blah blah blah....

However, two seconds after that, he asked me how I got the movies on the hard drive. Without thinking, I replied that I bought the DVDs(and the Blu-rays) and ripped them on to my hard drive. He said "Ms.____, are you aware that it's against federal law to do that?" I had no idea what to say... so I kind of said "oh... ummm....." He told me to remove those movies as soon as possible. The 2nd officer joined in and said that they have some sort of new directive to crack down on the practice.(even if you have the original DVD next to the laptop, it's still a violation of copyright laws or something like that)

It still hasn't registered in my mind that they were being serious... until I noticed them taking my passport and writing something on their notepad. He said "consider this a friendly warning... because the next time this happens, we'll know...... if you want to keep legal movies on your laptop, buy it from iTunes or something...." WAIT... IS THE CBP NOW WORKING FOR STEVE JOBS OF APPLE??????

Is this something new? I googled this issue and didn't find anything... nothing on this website as well.... My laptop only has a 64GB SSD and most of that is occupied by Windows 7 and other programs... so there's barely 10GB of space left... just about enough for 10 movies)

Has anyone else encountered this lately? I can't be the only one who has ripped her own DVDs in order to watch them on laptops, right?

Last edited by caviarwire; May 12, 10 at 3:39 pm.
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Old May 12, 10, 4:12 pm   #2
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caviarwire View Post
on a recent returning trip, my luggage was searched... they found nothing(no excessive booze or smokes, or food/plants.... which I never bring... obviously)

However, the officer asked if he could "take a look at my laptop" and I said fine. Well.. what else can I say? I don't use my laptop for work, so it contains no business information or the blueprint to my plan to colonize Mars.

He and another officer powered it up and looked around. He told me he saw several movies on my hard drive and wanted to know if they were enough to keep me entertained on the long flight. (they were still in a very polite/friendly mood) I said I didn't get to watch any of them on this trip because I fell asleep, but maybe on the connecting flight home I'll finish up the move. The 2nd officer even said "that movie was funny.... I saw it twice...." blah blah blah....

However, two seconds after that, he asked me how I got the movies on the hard drive. Without thinking, I replied that I bought the DVDs(and the Blu-rays) and ripped them on to my hard drive. He said "Ms.____, are you aware that it's against federal law to do that?" I had no idea what to say... so I kind of said "oh... ummm....." He told me to remove those movies as soon as possible. The 2nd officer joined in and said that they have some sort of new directive to crack down on the practice.(even if you have the original DVD next to the laptop, it's still a violation of copyright laws or something like that)

It still hasn't registered in my mind that they were being serious... until I noticed them taking my passport and writing something on their notepad. He said "consider this a friendly warning... because the next time this happens, we'll know...... if you want to keep legal movies on your laptop, buy it from iTunes or something...." WAIT... IS THE CBP NOW WORKING FOR STEVE JOBS OF APPLE??????

Is this something new? I googled this issue and didn't find anything... nothing on this website as well.... My laptop only has a 64GB SSD and most of that is occupied by Windows 7 and other programs... so there's barely 10GB of space left... just about enough for 10 movies)

Has anyone else encountered this lately? I can't be the only one who has ripped her own DVDs in order to watch them on laptops, right?
Do a google search on DCMA and fair use and see if you can make sense out of what the US Congress made into a real mess.
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Old May 12, 10, 4:14 pm   #3
 
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Perhaps they didn't trust that you actually owned the DVDs. As far as I know (though I am not a lawyer), it is legal to make a "backup" copy of content that you OWN (as long as it is for your personal backup use only).

But it is very very illegal to rip DVDs that are rented or otherwise do not belong to you.

If you didn't have the DVD discs in question with you in your luggage, the officers would have no way of knowing whether you actually owned the content or had stolen it by ripping rented/borrowed DVDs.


So, I guess the moral of the story is not to travel with ripped DVD content unless you can prove that you own the discs from which you ripped the content. A receipt should suffice, I would suspect, if you didn't want to carry around the discs.
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Old May 12, 10, 4:29 pm   #4
 
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Fair use doctrine

When you answer their questions, you give them something to be used against you. So, don't answer their questions. You own it, proof is available in the appropriate forum and you're happy to provide the proof which is available at another location. How stuff got there is not their concern. Their only concern: did you infringe? answer: no. Nothing further need be said.

According to the Fair Use Doctrine, you are allowed to make personal, non-infringing copies. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act made it illegal to make and distribute certain software to copy them in the US, but it is not against the law to copy the disks you've paid for under the fair use doctrine that goes back to a lawsuit against Sony for Betamax recordings.

A lay synopsis is included in a US News report here. Taken to its logical conclusion, the DMCA outlaws UNIX/LINUX/FreeBSD/MacOSX, since none of those operating systems care about their copy protection schemes.

Their "directives" to "crack down" on lawful activities are limited to the means by which things got put on the disk, not the fact that the copies exist. Hollywood, of course, would like that to not be the case, but under Sect. 107 has 4 clauses that taken together determine if the copy is a fair use exception. Customs inspectors are not qualified to determine if the material is a fair use or not. You paid for the right to view the movie when you bought the DVD, you do not need the permission of the owner to use that right as you see fit as long as you do not allow someone else to have a copy of your copy. Just because they issue a directive does not make the directive legal, compliant with regulation and just because a regulation has been issued doesn't make it compliant with the law or the many nuances of case law.

I use itunes and download music. I also do not trust my laptop to be safe from thieves, customs agents or Thieving-Sneaky-Operatives or itself. Therefore, I make CDs of everyone of the itunes works I download and it goes into the archive. Just in case. I am allowed to do this as it will not affect one dime of revenue to the industry. Judges have ruled the reverse is true.

I'll check with my patent lawyer who is very clever on these matters or perhaps PTravel will voice a thought or two.

Last edited by greentips; May 12, 10 at 4:40 pm. Reason: fixed Copyright Act limitation section
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Old May 12, 10, 4:53 pm   #5
 
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He was wrong - if you owned the DVD's you may make unlimited copies of them for personal use. You can do this in order to preserve the pristine quality of your original. You cannot give or sell those copies to anyone. If you are a teacher, you may show a part of the copy on a spontaneous, unplanned basis to students, if it's for an educational purpose.

But, if you did not buy (you rented) the DVD, you're in violation of federal law. If you do not have proof that you own the DVD (which is why buying from Apple is handy - Itunes provides proof of your purchase every time you sign in, and you can show this to LE to support your case), you are in trouble. If you had a picture of the cover of the DVD and the receipt for it, you'd be good.

I know all this because I teach a research methods course and serve on my college's ethics committee. We've had federal representatives and private attorneys come and present on these matters - there's no complete agreement. Some would say "only one copy at a time," but under the ADA, I was able to claim that having to carry an entire library of DVD's, any one of which I might need to show scientific images to my students during any particular class, was in violation of my rights to be accomodated for a disability - I make several copies and store them in locked cabinets in the classroom, which were built for that purpose. The original stays in yet another location.

Librarians are banned from doing the same thing, as I understand it, which is interesting, but the average citizen may make copies of VHS, DVD and CD's already owned and legally purchased.

Problem is, as always, do you have proof of ownership? I believe the burden of proof is on the person who makes the copy, as I understand the federal law.

They are really cracking down on this kind of thing:

http://thresq.hollywoodreporter.com/...e-pirates.html

and most teachers I know will not use our new DVD copying machines out of fear that they might violate the law. I of course would not use the work environment to copy for personal use.

I've never learned to put a DVD onto my laptop without paying for it and downloading it - if you have to use any kind of software to defeat the protection supplied by the manufacturer, you're definitely in a gray area. Our copier machines at school are approved for educational use.
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Old May 12, 10, 4:55 pm   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caviarwire View Post
However, two seconds after that, he asked me how I got the movies on the hard drive. Without thinking, I replied that I bought the DVDs(and the Blu-rays) and ripped them on to my hard drive. He said "Ms.____, are you aware that it's against federal law to do that?"
Is CBP aware that netbooks don't have DVD drives? Even my new ThinkPad X100e does not have a DVD drive.
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Old May 12, 10, 5:08 pm   #7
 
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P.S. Nothing I said above should be construed to imply that OP should have answered questions or shown proof of ownership beyond simply stating that they were owned by OP.

Unless you have been brought into federal court, you don't have to show proof. If they want to confiscate every laptop that contains any form of copyrighted material, they will have to do this in an evenhanded way or face thousands of defeats in court.

I agree that making any answer at all is problematic, but one has to balance that against the time one wants to spend interacting with CBP. "I am in legal possession of these media," is what I've been taught to say should anyone (student, LE, otherwise) ask about my own collection.
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Old May 12, 10, 6:48 pm   #8
 
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Scary thought. I have a number of major textbooks I use on a regular basis on my Mac. All of them html format, from publishers websites direct for use off line when I am in places where the internet just doesn't go. I own the textbooks and have the right to use them because of this and the fair use doctrine.

I can prove I own the works by producing the original textbooks, no problem. But I did it so I wouldn't have to carry around a dozen multi-volume thousands of pages textbooks which would probably exceed the 45 kg luggage limit. But I can't prove it on the road. This definitely meets the fair use exemption.

I think LuvsParis is right: proving you own it at the border when they're snooping in your private correspondence may be impractical, but the place for proofs is in court, not at the border. I did check with my shyster er patent guy. His comment: Fair use includes changing the media from one to another, so long as it doesn't extend the use beyond what the original media would have permitted. He's in the DC circuit, but practices internationally.
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Old May 12, 10, 7:36 pm   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ESpen36 View Post
Perhaps they didn't trust that you actually owned the DVDs. As far as I know (though I am not a lawyer), it is legal to make a "backup" copy of content that you OWN (as long as it is for your personal backup use only).

But it is very very illegal to rip DVDs that are rented or otherwise do not belong to you.

If you didn't have the DVD discs in question with you in your luggage, the officers would have no way of knowing whether you actually owned the content or had stolen it by ripping rented/borrowed DVDs.


So, I guess the moral of the story is not to travel with ripped DVD content unless you can prove that you own the discs from which you ripped the content. A receipt should suffice, I would suspect, if you didn't want to carry around the discs.
Whether you own it or not is almost irrelevant - since DMCA makes it illegal to break copy protection to make a backup copy of a movie you own the disc for (and that's any commercial release).

Will you get arrested and charged with a crime for it? Who knows. If you aren't distributing the digicopies, and have the discs at home, you're probably in less danger of any actual adverse consequences, but you HAVE technically broken a federal law.

So no, you technically *CAN'T* make a backup copy of the movies you own, or format-shift them.
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Old May 12, 10, 8:25 pm   #10
 
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1. Download and install Truecrypt (works on netbooks)
2. Set up your encrypted container
3. Move everything to the encrypted container
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Old May 12, 10, 8:37 pm   #11
 
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Originally Posted by erictank View Post
Whether you own it or not is almost irrelevant - since DMCA makes it illegal to break copy protection to make a backup copy of a movie you own the disc for (and that's any commercial release).
Correct. The fair use doctrine and the first-sale doctrine (which is basically a subset of the former) mean that making such a copy does not violate copyright. But that doesn't make it immune to any other law, in this case the DMCA. Now, it may well be the case that some day the Supreme Court will resolve this conflict by saying the DMCA doesn't apply in cases where the first-sale doctrine does, but that hasn't happened yet and so it's still "the law of the land".
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Old May 12, 10, 8:39 pm   #12
 
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Originally Posted by Sam5 View Post
1. Download and install Truecrypt (works on netbooks)
2. Set up your encrypted container
3. Move everything to the encrypted container
The machines we have at the college must be purchased through special, state-run channels I don't know if that makes a difference, but they do not break the code on most disks.

Some highly commercial late release movies cannot be copied on our machine (and as I said before, I don't know how to rip or burn anything).

But, if the thing will copy on our machine at the college, I copy it and make copies - leaving each section of the course set up to go at the right section in three different computers.

The people who sold the machine discussed the legalities of it with our administration quite a bit and the ethics committee had to give mandatory "training" on its use.

This same service is offered for scholars at another facility on our campus, but they have to have an academic purpose for using the machine.

My point being is that some DVD releases are not copy-protected for this type of machine sold through educational/scientific supply houses.

But, as to the point of whether you, Joe Citizen, are allowed to have an extra copy - I do believe several court cases all around the nation are bringing ambiguous results. Generalizing from the small number of Supreme Court cases on the topic persuades me not one bit.

I still believe you may make a copy (photograph, recording, any other form of representation) of something you own - it's inherent in ownership and obviously changes dynamically according to what technology is available for making the copy.

You may also show 'your" single copy to friends or family without breaking the law (my view). But at the rate we're going with expanding "enforcement of ridiculous laws" with non-enforcement of laws in other areas (classroom size for kids, as an example), who knows? Maybe they'll stop you from watching your one single copy with another human.
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Old May 13, 10, 6:23 am   #13
 
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This is consistent with my understanding (from my leagal eagal). There is a right to make a personal and archival copy, including media shifting of any non-copy protected dvd. The DMCA, which the movie makers are now vigorously attempting to enforce to eliminate the fair use doctrine, and apparently using customs to do it, forbids working around the encrypt, or aiding someone in doing it.

To avoid customs problems, there is no need to tell customs how things get into the computer. The OP wasn't dinged for having them, only when he answered how they got there. No answer is an answer to a probing question. Remember, anything you say can and will be used against you, except exculpatory statements.

As for copying copy protected DVD, even that may be ok under DMCA if the copy protection is copied intact. IE you don't decode the encryption or otherwise disable this, from what I am told.

Practically there are a number of mechanisms to easily do this, but under the DMCA if you discuss any of these you are in violation of the DMCA and can be prosecuted, so I can't discuss the technology, but I speculate your average community college programmer could write code quickly to do this.

As for real copyright violations, these work strongly in favor of the creator. We have a former employee who violated our company's copyrights for commercial gain when he reneged on a severance agreement. Our legal expense is minimal, his astronomical, even if he wins (doubtful) and the damages are staggering if he loses.

So, archive/media shift your owned dvds, don't defeat the copy protection system and you're likely to be ok, even if they find a few flicks on the computer, and remember you can say nothing if it might be incriminating.
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Old May 13, 10, 7:20 am   #14
 
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Originally Posted by greentips View Post
When you answer their questions, you give them something to be used against you. So, don't answer their questions. You own it, proof is available in the appropriate forum and you're happy to provide the proof which is available at another location. How stuff got there is not their concern. Their only concern: did you infringe? answer: no. Nothing further need be said.
I think that's the best synopsis of how to handle what should be considered an illegal fishing expedition by no-class thugs. (Not all CBP are no-class thugs, but Amos and Andy that you met at the border on this trip qualify.)

Of course, had I been in your position, when they asked if they could search my laptop, the first words out of my mouth would have been "Do you mind if I ask what you will be looking for prior to considering whether or not I consent to your questionable and intrusive search of my personal life?" After getting their answer, my response would have been "No, you may not search my laptop"-- no matter what they said. They may be able to do so anyway, but why make life easy for them to conduct a highly questionable search that only serves to give them hard-ons for exercising their power over others?
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Old May 13, 10, 8:10 am   #15
 
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Another lazy law, if you ask me. I agree that P2P sharing of files that are ripped from personal inventory is a problem. But to try to make a federal case against a person that buys/rents a DVD, decides to watch it on a device that doesn't have a DVD player, rips it to a compatible format, watches the movie and deletes the file when done.

Its easier to ban copying in all forms with a few exceptions than try to figure out a fair way to allow media transfers. Lazy regulations.
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