[Consortium] Re: Fwd: [edmemo] Re. Letter in August Edition from Daniel James

Daniel James daniel at linuxaudio.org
Wed Aug 3 03:59:12 EDT 2005

Hi Neil,

> Glad to have this opportunity to go into more detail with you.

Yes, I do think there are some points which need to be clarified. 

> I'm not going to take things in any particular order here, but
> would like to begin with the discussion of the Sourceforge
> DVD-Audio software. I stated that this is based on reverse
> engineering of commercial discs, and would like to quote from the
> project overview:
> */These pages contain a description of the contents of the AUDIO_TS
> directory on a DVD-Audio disk. The official specifications are not
> publically available and no reference has been made to them during
> the writing of this documentation. All information has been gained
> from the examination of the content of DVD-Audio disks produced by
> commercial authoring software.
> /*IE, back engineered.

I agree there has been some reverse engineering done on DVD-A - it's a 
common enough practice in all kinds of software development, not just 
free software. My point was that as this particular code does not 
support MLP, it is no use for people who want to infringe copyright 
by transcoding commercial DVD-A discs.

> The reason MLP is not supported, not breach of watermarking, is
> purely because this will be very expensive to develop, and cannot
> be done without specs. You certainly cannot do this from back
> engineering commercial titles.

All kinds of copy protection and encoding schemes have been 
compromised by reverse engineering - if they hadn't, there wouldn't 
have been any need for laws against it. Turing reverse engineered the 
Enigma code, so the practice is as old as computers themselves. 

> In addition, this can never, ever produce anything that is DVD-A
> compliant. It cannot, as the spec books have not been consulted.
> Ever.

On the contrary, I could point you towards several successful examples 
from the world of software. The Samba file/print server does the job 
so well that Microsoft engineers study it to find out how SMB works.

> As to the illegality of this, I do not know what country you are
> writing from.

It's the UK. I live on the Isle of Wight.

> Here in the UK this is a criminal offence under the 
> 2003 review of the Copyright & Related rights regulations - an
> amendment of the original Copyright, Designs & Patents act of 1988,
> which was itself updated in 1996. The 2003 amendments have now made
> criminal offences of reverse engineering of systems that have any
> copy protection schemes applied at all.

Does that even apply if you don't reverse engineer the copy protection 

> It is even an offence to 
> own equipment capable of circumventing copy protection schemes.

I confess, I bought a region-free DVD-A player from Amazon. I think 
the police are a little too busy to arrest me right now though. 

> it is still a criminal
> offence in the UK to illegally copy software.

Agreed, but as I pointed out, it's not the same crime as theft. 
However, I wasn't advocating copyright infringement - you seem to 
have missed that I was talking about software which I am allowed to 
copy and distribute under licence. These are free software licences, 
such as the GNU GPL. 

> As for the rest of it, I won't go near open source - no support, no
> guarantees, no comebacks.

You are already near it. The Sound on Sound website runs on it, as do 
many others, including Google. It's quite likely to be in your next 
phone. It's in the Korg Oasys and the Hartmann Neuron.

If you want support, ask IBM or any other major IT firm and they will 
provide it. As for guarantees or comebacks, I think you'd be very 
lucky to get more than the purchase price out of a proprietary 
software firm, if that. Has anyone you know sued Microsoft and won?



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