One of the things I never took much time to consider was the legality off all this. My opinion has been (and hopefully always will be) that if I purchased something I should be able to do whatever I want with it. If I own DVD and want to use it as a decoration on my Christmas tree I feel I have that right.
Again, I am not a lawyer and this is just a summation of my research on the topic so do your own research for your own area.
The first debate is if you can backup or convert your DVD’s to another format. There are two big points in this debate. The first is if you can make a backup of the media. The second is if you can legally circumvent copy protection. In Canada, the current copyright act does not explicitly state if it is legal or not to do either of these. It is legal to make a backup of computer programs, and you are allowed to copy audio/video for personal use. In the current situation it seems quite legal to backup and defeat copy protection. I think this is great as I PURCHASED a product and would like to use it in the manner I see fit. Of course it is illegal for me to share the backup.
From my understanding, in the United States, it is only partially legal to create a backup (yup partially legal). It seems that making a backup copy is totally fine but if you break copy protection it violates the Digital Millenium Copyright Act as it may be considered that you have circumvented copy protection on the DVD. Circumvention though could be in the eye of the beholder as computer software has to open the DVD and decrypt it for playback, capturing the legally decrypted data and placing it on your hard drive may be totally legal.
Canada is working to reform its copyright act so there may be some big changes to modernize it. From reading over Bill C-32, I see this:
(a) the copy of the work or other subject-matter from which the reproduction is made is not an infringing copy;
(b) the individual legally obtained the copy of the work or other subject-matter from which the reproduction is made, other than by borrowing it or renting it, and owns or is authorized to use the medium or device on which it is reproduced;
(c) the individual, in order to make the reproduction, did not circumvent, as defined in section 41, a technological protection measure, as defined in that section, or cause one to be circumvented;
(d) the individual does not give the reproduction away; and
(e) the reproduction is used only for private purposes.
The issue here becomes circumventing technological protection measures. This is where I don’t agree as I purchased it so why should I not be able to do what I want with it in my own home? Frankly, if I can’t do what I want with content I buy then I will cease buying it.
In Canada, this is technically legal as long as you don’t distribute it or profit from it. After playing around with converting my own DVDs (that post is coming up), it may be easier to let someone else do the hard work of properly converting a movie and download it from them.
Modifying Your XBOX
I have an old xbox just collecting dust so I installed Xbox Media Center on it. This is not an MS product, it is a replacement OS created by the community (that is awesome) but does require a lot of work to get it installed (there are lots of tutorials out there on the internet about it though). Is it legal to modify your xbox? From what I see, yes. If you mod your xbox it voids your warranty and violates Microsoft’s use policy so it will probably not work online. For me that is fine as I am just using it as a media center hooked up to my TV.
Streaming Media Over Wireless
An interesting potential gotcha is that streaming media over a wireless network may be considered broadcasting. Some media center devices will not stream some content for this very reason (buyer beware for sure). I really think this is a non-issue as most people secure their wireless networks and most neighbors don’t have the technical expertise to watch what you are streaming but it could still be an issue.