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13 Years After DeCSS Case, Congressional IT Endorses VLC

timothy posted about 9 months ago | from the government-is-a-goo-not-a-behemoth dept.

Media 106

New submitter robp writes "After a link to VLC showed up in one of HBO's DMCA takedown requests, I recalled how often I've linked to VLC in my own copy, and how often I've seen that app noted across traditional-media outlets — even though you could make the same arguments against linking to it that Judge Kaplan bought in 2000. Now, though, even the House's own IT department not only links to this CSS-circumventing app but endorses it. Question is, what led to this enlightenment?"

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106 comments

They ran out of chewing gum to plug the dam (4, Insightful)

eksith (2776419) | about 9 months ago | (#44336257)

Either that or there are now aware enough and truly computer literate people are emplyed in the IT department (at least in regard to media tech)

What's the issue? (3, Interesting)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 9 months ago | (#44336959)

What's the issue. VLC does not decrypt DVDs and plays a myriad of formats, all legally. If one takes the step to install libdvdcss, which does decrypt the DVD that is the individual doing that, not VLC. Saying that VLC is responsible for it is like saying Ford is responsible for people speeding.

Re:What's the issue? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 9 months ago | (#44337033)

VLC plays encrypted DVDs without me having to install any other software.

Re:What's the issue? (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 9 months ago | (#44337241)

VLC plays encrypted DVDs without me having to install any other software.

What platform? On Windows, that is true, but if your Windows pc has a dvd player, it already comes with the software to decrypt DVDs. On linux, at least the distributions I have been working with, I've had to manually install and enable the decryption to be able to play DVDs. However, some distributions ship it pre-enabled.

Re:What's the issue? (0)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 9 months ago | (#44337549)

It's Windows, and it has no other software for decrypting DVDs installed.

Re:What's the issue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44337847)

It's Windows, and it has no other software for decrypting DVDs installed.

What version of Windows? Windows 7 (other than home basic version) is supplied with decrypting DVD drivers out-of-the-box. For other Windows versions, it's normally provided on the CD with the motherboard chipset drivers... are you sure you didn't install a DVD driver from there?

Re:What's the issue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44339095)

Windows Vista & Windows 7 come with the ability to play DVDs baked into the OS.

Re:What's the issue? (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 9 months ago | (#44340501)

It's Windows, and it has no other software for decrypting DVDs installed.

Unless you're talking about Windows XP or Windows 8, it does, or at least the components for it.

Though, I think the Windows version of VLC also has libdvdcss on it.

However, it's not a very good version - there are plenty of DVDs that VLC will not play well or at all thanks to copy protection. It's usually easy to tell because you can get to the menu, but then you see artifacting all over the place.

Of course, this can be fixed using AnyDVD...

Re:What's the issue? (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 9 months ago | (#44340353)

The software licensed to decrypt DVDs on Windows *isn't* VLC and that permission doesn't extend to all other user applications. Its still illegal.

Re:What's the issue? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44342717)

VLC will play most regions on my Mac without having to reset the region on the drive. I regularly play DVDs from regions 2 and 3 and a good 80% of them will play without me having to haul out a drive with the correct region or reset the region on the drive (I used to have a big huge Mac with 3 Superdrives, one set to each region - now I keep two of those in external cages and hate to haul them out of storage) So, little bit of circumventing going on there.

Life is cruel. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44336259)

I look at my own life with disdain. I see all humans as parasites. Life is cruel. Life is painful. Life is awful. The world is unjust.

What should we do to fix this? I know what I'll do; I'll dip my nutsack right into your anus!

Re:Life is cruel. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44336353)

I look at my own life with disdain. I see all humans as parasites. Life is cruel. Life is painful. Life is awful. The world is unjust.

What should we do to fix this? I know what I'll do; I'll dip my nutsack right into your anus!

its about time somebody implemented a constructive solution

Enlightenment? Try Unawareness. (4, Insightful)

some old guy (674482) | about 9 months ago | (#44336263)

As soon as some unaware VLC-hating corporate campaign donor gets wind of this, you can bet your useless vote that said endorsement will be history.

Re:Enlightenment? Try Unawareness. (5, Interesting)

Selur (2745445) | about 9 months ago | (#44336277)

most people probably don't really care any more about dvd copy protection,... (sadly VLC can't decrypt modern Blu-rays atm.)

Re:Enlightenment? Try Unawareness. (4, Informative)

eksith (2776419) | about 9 months ago | (#44336289)

It's only a matter of time. HDCP 1.x is already broken [wikipedia.org] and HDCP 2.x isn't as widespread yet.

Re:Enlightenment? Try Unawareness. (4, Interesting)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#44336373)

That won't help. HDCP protects the output of the player on its way to the display - it has nothing to do with the encryption on the discs themselves. That is protected by AACS.

Fortunately, AACS has also been broken. Doing so just isn't the simple insert-and-play task of breaking CSS - it requires the presence of a valid processing or device key. Several processing keys have been discovered via reverse engineering (The first of them was the famous 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0 that was plastered all over the internet for a week in protest of DMCA takedowns directed at Digg for linking to it), but they can also be revoked in new discs, requiring a constant effort to discover new processing keys or device keys (Which can also be revoked, but not without breaking some players).

The process of decrypting blu-ray is thus possible for those with a little skill, but cannot be easily automated and put into VLC.

Those who do have the skill to decrypt AAC are kind enough to upload the resulting movie to various torrent sites though, saving the rest of us from having to go to such lengths ourselves.

Re:Enlightenment? Try Unawareness. (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#44336403)

The process of decrypting blu-ray is thus possible for those with a little skill, but cannot be easily automated and put into VLC.

My understanding is that this is the real reason that Sony nuked Other OS... it made blu-ray ripping easy.

Re:Enlightenment? Try Unawareness. (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 9 months ago | (#44336457)

It didn't at the time. But nuking it prompted one hacker to figure out the ultimate key (or whatever it is called) for the PS3 so he could put put the OtherOS option back, thus making blu-ray, and more importantly SACD, ripping easy.

The reason SACD ripping is more important, despite being an obscure audio format is because there are plenty of other blu-ray rippers but there aren't any other SACD rippers that get you access to the original bits on the disc. SACD is still about as alive as it ever was with 10-20 new titles each year and thanks to Sony nuking the OtherOS option there are lots of multi-channel rips floating around.

Re:Enlightenment? Try Unawareness. (1)

cpghost (719344) | about 9 months ago | (#44337539)

The process of decrypting blu-ray is thus possible for those with a little skill, but cannot be easily automated and put into VLC.

So basically, AACS is NOT broken (yet). What's broken is its currently poorly handled key management. As long as the process of breaking that system can't be automated, keep away from it. You don't know how long those few skilled people hanging around in doom9 are willing to help with YOUR favorite bluray movie.

Re:Enlightenment? Try Unawareness. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44338083)

It's broken by design. The data you need is on the disk -- it has to be or the player couldn't play the disk. The challenge is getting the drives to give them to you; in order to license the patents necessary to read a BR disk you have to agree never to allow your drive to hand out that data.

But worst-case scenario you could put the thing under a microscope and manually, optically read the key. Or you could physically replace the firmware in the drive with your own that doesn't have such limitations. It would be annoying, but the technical challenge isn't high.

Also, MakeMKV provides one-click decryption of AACS that works for essentially all existing encryption keys on all existing disks. New titles that revoke old keys would not work if it stopped being updated, but it doesn't require updates for each new disk that comes out. For reference, the newest disk I've ever put in my drive is AACS v36 -- as in there have only been 35 changes since the initial release of AACS. So the rate of key revocations is pretty low compared to the rate of new title releases.

Re:Enlightenment? Try Unawareness. (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#44340449)

DVD/CSS uses a similar system - the data is encrypted with a title key, and the title key is stored on the disc encrypted with all the non-revoked device keys (This is a simplification, but you get the idea). The drive won't hand over the key, even encrypted, without a suitable handshake with an authorised player application (and, in all but the earliest drives, it also checks the region code matches).

It was broken in CSS because there were a number of serious cryptographic weaknesses - huge, gaping holes - which made it possible to find the title key without needing the CSS key block at all. CSS is simply very poorly designed.

Re:Enlightenment? Try Unawareness. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44338033)

Or you could just use MakeMKV, which in addition one-click decryption of both CSS and AACS provides live streaming so you can use VLC to playback directly from the optical without ripping.

VLC *could* bake the sort of technology in, it just hasn't.

Re:Enlightenment? Try Unawareness. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44338583)

That's why you let Slysoft do the bluray decoding for you with the AnyDVD HD application

Re:Enlightenment? Try Unawareness. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44339135)

I am amazed the Hollywood has not add us invade Antigua to take out those damn SlySoft pirates yet!!!!

Fuck bluray (4, Insightful)

anne on E. mouse cow (867445) | about 9 months ago | (#44336513)

I'm glad not to have a Bluray drive or any bluray discs. Every disc and drive bought supports software patents many which are of course of dubious validity. And that money supports further draconian DRM and more bribes to the congresses of the world. Not to mention both drives and discs can be bricked by new discs, firmware updates, internet checks etc. Part of the reason I never bought into this junk is because you can never be sure the 'content protection path' is going to work with your hardware. It's just not worth it.

Re:Fuck bluray (1)

eksith (2776419) | about 9 months ago | (#44336669)

Agreed. And the sad thing is that the vast majority of videos coming out on Blu-ray are (in my view anyway) utter crap. Stunning explosions with no plot.

The future is download only anyway. Files with nefarious instructions can be removed with relative ease unlike hacking proprietary hardware.

Re:Fuck bluray (1)

Mix+Master+Nixon (1018716) | about 9 months ago | (#44336845)

You could say the same about the vast majority of videos being released on any format. OTOH, I recently bought THE RED SHOES on Blu-ray as a gift for a friend. Hardly a Michael Bay film. As always, you have to look a bit harder to find the good stuff, because the studios want you to buy whatever dogshit they just wasted three hundred million bucks on, and the retailers want to sell that dogshit to you.

Re:Fuck bluray (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44337355)

And old movies on blue ray look like crap because they're designed for some fuzz-factor, even on the silver screen.

Re:Fuck bluray (3, Interesting)

fnj (64210) | about 9 months ago | (#44339151)

And old movies on blue ray look like crap because they're designed for some fuzz-factor, even on the silver screen.

Our cowardly hit and run commenter is, predictably, full of shit. I'm going to take a wild guess that he thinks 1960's movies are "old", even though I don't. The picture quality of the the Lawrence of Arabia Blu-ray is matchless. It makes the term "breathtaking" into an understatement. Anything in 70mm, properly processed and restored if necessary, is at least as good as 4k digital. Doctor Zhivago is very nearly as impressive. Julie Christie's face in candlelight will make your heart race faster than anything you can find on recent digital productions, as you will get more detail on your 1080p display than you did in 1965 on a wide movie screen, the projector a little out of focus, with smoke in the air, and more than likely a well-used print.

Re:Fuck bluray (1)

MrResistor (120588) | about 9 months ago | (#44344819)

"Properly processed" is the key. When film scanners reached 1k resolution (aka 1080p) the operators started to notice visual artifacts, which turned out to be the grain of the film. By the time 2k scanners came out, post-scan processing was an absolute necessity to get video of acceptable quality.

At least, that's the story I was told by the engineers when I worked in customer service repair on the Spirit DataCine. So much for my old TV/Film professor's assertions (a mere 7 years earlier) that digital would never equal the resolution of film.

Re:Fuck bluray (2)

cpghost (719344) | about 9 months ago | (#44337517)

The future is download only anyway.

Not in the HUGE parts of the world where bandwidth is limited, and download caps are in effect. And this includes big parts of *ahem* the US as well. So it may be the future, but certainly not mainstream for at least a decade or two down the road.

Re:Fuck bluray (2)

fnj (64210) | about 9 months ago | (#44339039)

Agreed. And the sad thing is that the vast majority of videos coming out on Blu-ray are (in my view anyway) utter crap. Stunning explosions with no plot.

That is a description of most video program material in general; it has nothing to do with the Blu-ray technology per se. And so what? Don't watch most videos. Watch the good videos. Here are just a few of the superb quality titles available on Blu-ray:
Lawrence of Arabia
Doctor Zhivago
The Great Escape
Blade Runner
Gattaca
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Chinatown
Master and Commander
2001: A Space Oddity
the Lord of the Rings trilogy
The Thin Red Line
North by Northwest
Gods and Generals

That is only the beginning of a list that almost anyone of discerning taste will agree are superb titles. The picture quality is notably better than any streaming presentation.

Re:Fuck bluray (1)

antdude (79039) | about 9 months ago | (#44339577)

Wow, I did not know drives and discs can be bricked like that. Is that a physical brick or something? Now, I really don't want a BR drive. I was waiting for software players to be ablet to play BR discs easily (no stupid hacking). I wonder if that is why Apple computers don't come with BR drives.

Re:Fuck bluray (2)

anne on E. mouse cow (867445) | about 9 months ago | (#44340917)

Keys for discs can be revoked if I'm reading the last line of this section correctly:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Access_Content_System#Encryption [wikipedia.org]

Software players get revoked from time to time as their keys get discovered.
http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=bluray+player+revoked&hl=en&btnG=Google+Search [google.co.uk]

http://news.slashdot.org/story/07/04/07/1417253/first-aacs-blu-rayhd-dvd-key-revoked [slashdot.org]

Hardware players can be revoked just by putting a newer disc in the player, the player updates its firmware from the disc and effectively commits suicide.

Re:Enlightenment? Try Unawareness. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44336735)

Use MakeMKV with VLC. It even works on Linux.

Re:Enlightenment? Try Unawareness. (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 9 months ago | (#44336741)

(sadly VLC can't decrypt modern Blu-rays atm.)

How about other kinds of porn?

Re:Enlightenment? Try Unawareness. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44337007)

most people probably don't really care any more about dvd copy protection,... (sadly VLC can't decrypt modern Blu-rays atm.)

As much as I hate to shill, SlySoft does a good job of keeping up to date with the changes in disc encryption keys. As much as I like free, this is something that is worth paying someone to keep up to date on.

Re:Enlightenment? Try Unawareness. (1)

antdude (79039) | about 9 months ago | (#44339503)

Can ANY software players decrypt modern BR discs? I avoided BR drives for this reason. I will stick with DVDs. :P

Re:Enlightenment? Try Unawareness. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340141)

KEYDB.cfg libaacs.dll

Why the surprise? (1, Insightful)

Rob_Bryerton (606093) | about 9 months ago | (#44336285)

Why the surprise? Not to imply VLC is in any way, shape or form bad or illegal, but why does it surprise you that the largest, most sophisticated organized crime syndicate this planet has ever know (U.S. Fed) endorses this product?

I mean criminals, gangsters and their ilk are ordinary people just like you and me; they just have a different line of business and shall we say questionable judgement. But they need a good media player like anyone else.

I am dead serious, and this is NOT a troll.

Re:Why the surprise? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44336393)

You are quite correct, Gangsters need good quality media players like VLC. In fact, to say they desire good media players like VLC would be correct also.

My granddad was part of "Organized Crime" and he liked good radios, good TVs, good cars, good air conditioners, good stores, good roads, good food and good people (they paid their debts without sending out the goons). While he didn't pay retail for everything, he did pay taxes of all sorts at least some of the time.

My granddad worked hard for his money earned through legal as well as illegal businesses. He raised eight children and paid for their educational pursuits (to Bachelor-level). He and his wife encourage their grandchildren to be good members of the community and citizens. When one of his sons died, he adopted his granddaughter, raised her and supported her through Master-level education.

Were he alive today, he would applaud the VLC developers and publisher for their independent nature, self-sufficiency and service to the communities that they serve.

VLC is also cross-platform--one thing that I greatly appreciate about VLC.

Re:Why the surprise? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44336447)

This post is rare art.

Libertarianism ignores most aspects of humankind, and its spreading like a rash has led to a dearth of creativity on Slashdot.

OK, not a troll. Moron, then. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44336837)

Sheesh.

They needed to use it. Duh. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 9 months ago | (#44336297)

Where's the news? As soon as some politicians notice that some "illegal" tool, device, substance or whatever is useful to them, suddenly it's no longer illegal.

Re:They needed to use it. Duh. (3, Insightful)

causality (777677) | about 9 months ago | (#44336365)

Where's the news? As soon as some politicians notice that some "illegal" tool, device, substance or whatever is useful to them, suddenly it's no longer illegal.

That's actually a bit unusual.

A more typical example would be the anti-gun politicians who really don't want any private ownership of firearms at all ... but their own guards are armed. Usually the politicians are complete hypocrites about it because they think they're special and the rules for everyone else shouldn't apply to them.

Re:They needed to use it. Duh. (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#44336413)

A more typical example would be the anti-gun politicians who really don't want any private ownership of firearms at all ... but their own guards are armed.

It's better than that. Dianne Feinstein, the poster child for taking guns away, actually has a concealed carry permit and does or did carry a concealed revolver, while at the same time preaching about how citizens don't need guns for self-defense, especially pistols or assault rifles. It's more personally hypocritical than even you have made it out to be. Causality, indeed.

Re:They needed to use it. Duh. (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 9 months ago | (#44336579)

It's more personally hypocritical than even you have made it out to be.

Is it hypocritical? I think it's clear that she believes the masters are to be armed and their subjects are not to be, so that the masters may more easily exert control. Her behavior and words are entirely consistent with that approach.

Re: They needed to use it. Duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44336601)

How is that hypocritical? You say she "does or did carry" a gun. So let's say she did carry one but doesn't now. It would be perfectly valid to argue that she no longer believes having guns is a good idea, she got rid of hers, and she believes eveyone else should too. That's not hypocritical, that's changing your mind based on past experience.

But let's say she does still carry a gun. Given her encounter, that would make sense (in a psychological "I have a gun now, I'm safe" way; not in a practical way since a gun didn't stop her being gunned down before, which gun nuts don't seem to realise applies to most gun crimes). Wouldn't it make sense to only give up your gun when there's a law that says everyone else should give up theirs too, and not before? If a cop and a criminal have guns pointed at each other, you don't expect the cop to lower his first, do you? That's sensibly precautious, not hypocritical.

Oh wait, this is Slashdot not a sane website, where people believe law enforcement and gubbermint are the only people on earth who shouldn't have guns (or tasers, or batons, or cameras) since they are all, without exception, evil corrupt space alien cyborgs who want to destory your bill of rights and eat your young.

Re: They needed to use it. Duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44339043)

Yes, actually, perhaps the cop should put his gun down, first. The cops are the ones escalating violence, and not just in the inner-city. They're the ones who spend hundreds of millions annually on military-grade armaments. They're the ones who use snipers and SWAT teams to raid poker games.

So, yes, the cops should put their guns down, first.

Ask yourself why things have gotten so bad in places like Oakland and LA that the thugs shoot first? Is it just because they're stupid, or maybe also because they fully expect a confrontation to be shoot or get shot. Which is no excuse for criminal behavior, but in the aggregate moral culpability starts to get really fuzzy--you can't blame freewill when it becomes a phenomenon.

Re:They needed to use it. Duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44337833)

Or, more likely, you don't understand the nuances of her position and are a typical libertardian ignoramus. Naw, couldn't be that.

Re:They needed to use it. Duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44338333)

Why is it gun owners in internet threads so often find it necessary to convert almost any discussion about the government to gun control? Are there people at banging on your doors demanding your weapons while simultaneously threatening to shoot you? The days of the Wild West are over. When are people going to get it?

Re:They needed to use it. Duh. (1)

causality (777677) | about 9 months ago | (#44338607)

Why is it gun owners in internet threads so often find it necessary to convert almost any discussion about the government to gun control? Are there people at banging on your doors demanding your weapons while simultaneously threatening to shoot you? The days of the Wild West are over. When are people going to get it?

Why is it that one cannot mention a clear, simple, easy-to-understand example in order to illustrate a point without the small-minded becoming obsessively hung-up on the example while missing the point being made with it?

The example I gave would be valid and legitimate whether or not I believed anyone should own a gun. The hypocrisy was the point. In fact I salute the way several European countries do things: they ban citizens from having guns AND the police (generally, with some exceptions) don't have guns either. That's how you do it without being a hypocrite about it.

I personally do like gun ownership, yes, but it is you who are trying to convert this into a gun-control debate. You are emotionally reactive and small-minded, unable to use reason to understand the distinction between a useful example and the point being made. I hope that one day you realize the self-limitation this represents, for that realization alone will overcome said shortcoming.

Re:They needed to use it. Duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44339239)

Exaggerate much?

The most restrictive law Ms. Feinstein ever got passed was the assault weapons ban of 1994. Which by the way many republicans supported as well.

Ronald Reagan Helped Pass The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban!

You've always been free to buy hand guns, rifles, shotguns and such pretty much everywhere. The Supreme Court has finally said that the 2nd amendment is an individual right to bear arms and that is that. While you may not be able to buy shoulder launched missiles or mortars you'll always be able to buy your regular guns.

You may also recall that Ms. Feinstein was in the building when her friends and colleagues were shot and killed. One being Mayor George Moscone and the other Supervisor Harvey Milk. One can hardly blame her for wanting to carry basic protection like a handgun and to restrict access to guns for whackos.

Re:They needed to use it. Duh. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#44340183)

The most restrictive law Ms. Feinstein ever got passed was the assault weapons ban of 1994. Which by the way many republicans supported as well.

Not for lack of trying, however.

One can hardly blame her for wanting to carry basic protection like a handgun and to restrict access to guns for whackos.

I agree. However, she wanted to restrict access to guns for everyone who wasn't affiliated with the state, which is something else.

Re:They needed to use it. Duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44339889)

This has as much to do with VLC as the dick you suck. Now take your political spam and ram it up your ass.

Re:They needed to use it. Duh. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44336993)

A more typical example would be the anti-gun politicians who really don't want any private ownership of firearms at all ... but their own guards are armed. Usually the politicians are complete hypocrites about it because they think they're special and the rules for everyone else shouldn't apply to them.

So these same politicians are also passing laws which forbid you and I from hiring armed guards of our own?

Not saying what they are doing is right, just that it is not hypocritical. Disallowing private ownership of firearms but allowing armed guards, is no more hypocritical than disallowing private ownership of firearms but allowing cops to carry.

Re:They needed to use it. Duh. (5, Informative)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about 9 months ago | (#44336371)

VLC was never illegal. Unpopular with Hollywood DRM advocates, maybe, but never illegal.

Re:They needed to use it. Duh. (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 9 months ago | (#44336385)

Where's the news? As soon as some politicians notice that some "illegal" tool, device, substance or whatever is useful to them, suddenly it's no longer illegal for them. They're perfectly fine with using some law/regulation/statute that they don't normally enforce (or just don't enforce against themselves) against select persons/companies/groups if it suits their purposes. See the attack on Gibson Corp. or the IRS debacle for recent examples.

FTFY

Strat

Re:They needed to use it. Duh. (4, Informative)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 9 months ago | (#44336945)

Where's the news? As soon as some politicians notice that some "illegal" tool, device, substance or whatever is useful to them, suddenly it's no longer illegal.

Technically, VLC isn't illegal. It can play all sorts of formats and by default it cannot play encrypted DVDs. Now, if you install libdvdcss, well, VLC is just reading the decrypted stream that libdvdcss provided, but that is through your actions, not VLCs or its developers.

Re:They needed to use it. Duh. (2)

robp (64931) | about 9 months ago | (#44337463)

I don't think it's illegal myself (IANAL, but who in this thread is?), even subject to DMCA logic. It's not “primarily designed or produced” to play DVDs and has more than "limited commercially significant purpose” besides playing DVDs. But I would not be remotely surprised if somebody in the entertainment industry tried to bring a case against it anyway. Like I wrote in the linked article: If a printer manufacturer can try to use the DMCA to put a manufacturer of ink cartridges out of business, why wouldn't a movie studio try to nail VLC as a DVD-cracking tool?

I honestly don't know why nobody has.

Profanity (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44336329)

See also Social Networking Best Practice (2) at the top of page 187.

Lobbyists will take it down (4, Interesting)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 9 months ago | (#44336367)

Lobbyists will flood the streets of Washington and this will be down before August. While the decision by the IT staff is sensible and sane that won't change the thinking of the entertainment industry. I know someone in this industry and they produced a pilot good show a few years ago that they just couldn't sell. So I suggested that they promote it via various torrents and whatnot. This person just about lost their mind. It wasn't that they disagreed with my marketing logic it was that they wouldn't allow those pirating bastards to make one cent off their work. I pointed out that he wasn't making one cent off his work either.

This and other factors leads me to believe that the thinking inside the movie industry that the whole internet (Netflix types included) is pure evil. This thinking seems to be religious in nature. So if you sell you wares on Netflix you have gone to the dark side.

An example of the venom that I once heard about Netflix was that they won't do things like feature one work over another based on kickbacks or politicing. Basically the traditional TV types are comfortable when they can use their political weight to push their show into the primetime slot on Thursday which guarantees an audience. Whereas Netflix is more of "If people want it they will click on it". This does not sit well with people who would rather use their sharp elbows to make their crap shows a success.

So these government IT people are showing a hint of reality by putting up the most used tool VLC. But the lobbyists will show their well financed Fantasy thinking by shutting this down before the end of the month. So in the long term they will run out of money to finance this stupid fantasy of theirs but they have a lot of money so it will take a long time.

Re:Lobbyists will take it down (0)

Mashiki (184564) | about 9 months ago | (#44336443)

Lobbyists will flood the streets of Washington and this will be down before August.

You sure about that? The current administration seems to be pretty hung up on race baiting, and trying to further divide the US along racial lines.

Re:Lobbyists will take it down (2)

mcgrew (92797) | about 9 months ago | (#44336805)

Huh?? Where do you see the slightest indication of that? If you're referring to Obama saying Travon Martin could have been him thirty years ago that was a perfectly apt statement that we whites should think deeply about.

Secondly, even if your absurd statement were true, the administration doesn't write the laws, Congress does.

Re:Lobbyists will take it down (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 9 months ago | (#44337181)

...the administration doesn't write the laws, Congress does.

The president still has to sign them. He has veto power. He has the bully pulpit with all the media coverage one could ask for to appeal to the public. Fuck him if he doesn't use it. On top of that, he can issue executive orders. He is just as responsible as Congress for the laws we have on the books.

Voice votes (1)

tepples (727027) | about 9 months ago | (#44337813)

True, bipartisan support is hard to find since the rise of the Tea Party, but it takes only 67 senators and two-thirds of the House to override President Obama's veto. Anything passed through a voice vote, such as the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, can be assumed to have at least 80 percent assent and should easily pass once it goes back for a roll-call.

Re:Voice votes (1)

causality (777677) | about 9 months ago | (#44338661)

True, bipartisan support is hard to find since the rise of the Tea Party

Yes, that's because "bipartisan" is usually code for "time for Republicans to acquiesce to the demands of the Democrats". Unlike most Republicans who just want to appeal to their base and do whatever is politically expedient to get re-elected, the Tea Partiers generally operate on a belief system. This is why lots of more mainstream Republicans don't like them, because they will say and do things perceived to hurt the Republican party's election odds.

For some reason people here just love to assume things that were never said, and read meanings into posts that are simply not there, so I'll reluctantly add: I don't like either major party one damned bit. I wish we had more of a parliamentary system where third, fourth, and fifth options were viable. But what I observed remains true. The Democrats have lots of support in the media and are effective at portraying their postions as mainstream and normal, with any dissenters branded as "racist" or otherwise bigoted, which many Republicans are afraid of and don't know how to stand up to.

Re:Lobbyists will take it down (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44338623)

Huh?? Where do you see the slightest indication of that? If you're referring to Obama saying Travon Martin could have been him thirty years ago that was a perfectly apt statement that we whites should think deeply about.

Secondly, even if your absurd statement were true, the administration doesn't write the laws, Congress does.

Yes, of course, an aggressive thug who initiated violence is precisely, exactly alike in every way to a well-connected politico with a Harvard law degree.

That's the sad yet hilarious thing about Obama. Just because they share a similar skin tone, many black people think he's just like them (a belief he is happy to encourage and exploit because it gets him votes). The truth is, none of the ruling class is anything like the rest of us regardless of color.

Re:Lobbyists will take it down (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 9 months ago | (#44340091)

Huh?? Where do you see the slightest indication of that?

Didn't watch the last two presidential elections at all? That explains a lot. Useful tip: This is the views of someone who is an outsider looking in at American politics.

Re:Lobbyists will take it down (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 9 months ago | (#44338747)

What's most stupid is that these "pirating bastards" don't make anything off the work either, almost all torrents are distributed for free.

More Likely (4, Insightful)

Somebody Is Using My (985418) | about 9 months ago | (#44336397)

More likely, the addition of the program came without knowledge that it included an illegal decryption program. Once it comes to the attention of the lawyers (which, thanks to this story, is more likely now than ever) it will probably be removed.

The "best practices" PDF isn't recommending it /because/ it plays DVDs or uses DeCSS, after all. The article suggests best practices for setting up a Congressional website and one of those practices is "Any page that links to a multimedia file (or an audio file) should include access to software that allows the file to be accessed." VLC is just one of four media players listed (and it's mentioned after Quicktime and RealPlayer!). Whoever updated this PDF probably threw in VLC without being aware of its potential illegality and nobody up the line caught the mistake. I mean, it's a one-time mention on page 153 of a 250 page document!

Hell, /I/ didn't even know VLC used DeCSS code to read DVDs. Then again, I don't think I've ever /used/ VLC to play a DVD; I barely use disc-based media anymore...

So, yeah, most likely a mistake by the poor intern tasked with writing "revision 36" of this document. Expect mention of VLC to be gone by revision 37.

Intern mistake? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44336665)

"So, yeah, most likely a mistake by the poor intern tasked with writing "revision 36" of this document. Expect mention of VLC to be gone by revision 37."

Darn, just after he got dumped by NTSB for confirming the offensive joke pilot names, he steps in it again.

Re:More Likely (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44337117)

I (as a member of our IT department) recommend VLC as the media player of choice... Not because it is free/open, but because it JUST WORKS. It plays almost everything you throw at it. It can read DVDs that non-tech savy police agencies copy into a subdiretory on a disc (unlike most players). So, Yeah, VLC!

Re:More Likely (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 9 months ago | (#44340371)

Same here. Whenever a Windows user asks me why a video doesn't play, I ask if they've tried VLC yet. That always fixes the problem unless the file was corrupt (and even then, sometimes).

Idiotic Summary (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44336415)

VLC doesn't contain libdvdcss by default -- that library must explicitly be obtained and compiled as plugin to be used. Nowadays, there are commercial codec packs that contain legal licenses for all patented codecs, making libdvdcss unnecessary.

Re:Idiotic Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44336423)

Those morons who think that VLC contains libdvdcss probably are running Windows and using codecs that are shipping with Windows (which contains full DVD/BluRay capability out of the box in most versions).

Re:Idiotic Summary (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 9 months ago | (#44337089)

Those morons who think that VLC contains libdvdcss probably are running Windows and using codecs that are shipping with Windows (which contains full DVD/BluRay capability out of the box in most versions).

where can I find options for those external codecs in vlc? btw if it used them it wouldn't be region free which it is... maybe you're thinking mpc.
bluray support in windows without extra programs? since when? why do you think cyberlink etc have a market..

fucking ac dicks.

Re:Idiotic Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44336889)

The Microsoft Windows VLC distribution absolutely does contain the libdvdcss DLL by default.

Re:Idiotic Summary (1)

robp (64931) | about 9 months ago | (#44337547)

Says who? If VLC were using any licensed DVD playback code, it wouldn't have the option of ignoring region codes (granted, newer drives make it harder to defeat that) or doing any of the other things that authorized DVD apps can't do. Further, I can assure you that I didn't compile libdvdcss on my Mac to get VLC to play any DVDs.

The Federal government is not bound by the DMCA (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44336661)

TheDMCA was heald not to apply to the goverment:

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2008/08/air-force-cracks-software-carpet-bombs-dmca/

But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44337189)

House IT is not a good endorsement.

Stupid, stupid article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44337437)

Though the author of the article may be too thick to get this, there are people in the world of IT who just need to get things done! It does not matter what company or government agency they belong to.

QUESTION: I need to simply play many different kinds of video files on my computer, including ones that may be only partially complete, or contain drop-outs. What application do I need.

ANSWER: for interesting historic reasons, there exists a free, open-source project called VLC. While VLC may NOT be the best video player for a given video format, it supports the widest range of video codecs and containers out-of-the-box, and is designed to just play anything. Any-time you have a video file that refuses to provide video and/or sound with your usual media player, try the file with VLC.

Now, I ask you, do you think a support team for a government department is going to hesitate to give the state-of-the-art advice I described above. It may amaze many of you sheeple, but there are people in government who need to get a job done. For these people, the IT department is REQUIRED to give the best advice, NOT politically correct or Microsoft/Oracle.Apple friendly advice.

"But I work in a company, dribble, dribble, where the IT department, dribble, would never allow us to install software like VLC, dribble." You are the very definition of a 'beta'.

Don't apply computer mentality to the law (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 9 months ago | (#44337585)

Context is pretty important. DeCSS was illegal in that specific context. This does not make it always illegal. The argument the MPAA made was that the purpose of DeCSS was to copy DVDs. While there are all sorts of problems with their argument, this point was technically true.

Now the primary purpose of DeCSS is to allow VLC to play DVDs. The fact that it does exactly the same thing isn't important.

The decision in the DeCSS case was the wrong one, and that was harmful, but this naivety about its ramifications is also harmful in that it discourages innovation

OP IS WRONG!!! (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 9 months ago | (#44337601)

VLC does NOT "circumvent" CSS at all.

It will, however, make use of an external code that circumvents CSS... if you have that code installed separately.

That may sound like splitting hairs, but it's not. There is no code in VLC -- or from the folks at VideoLAN for that matter -- that circumvents any DRM. If you want that functionality, you have to install it separately. VLC is not responsible.

Re:OP IS WRONG!!! (1)

tepples (727027) | about 9 months ago | (#44337835)

I was under the impression that the Windows binaries of VLC automatically install that code separately.

Re:OP IS WRONG!!! (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 9 months ago | (#44337897)

I suppose it's possible, but I would be surprised, because on every other OS, it informs you that if you want that functionality it needs an external library and tells you to download it.

The fact remains that the De-CSS functionality is not in VLC, but in a separate program.

It's pretty simple (1)

cHiphead (17854) | about 9 months ago | (#44339459)

They needed something to watch any video they were sent. VLC does the job.

Re:It's pretty simple (1)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 9 months ago | (#44339907)

^^ That. VLC is the best media player. Debate over DeCSS and other such trivia is ANCIENT HISTORY.

The attention span of government, corporations and the general populace are VERY SHORT.

Nobody should be surprised when a "yesterday's news" topic of marginal relevance fades into the forgotten of the new status quo.

Not unlike issues over the *gasp* copying machine, the *GASP* camcorder and *OMG* the VCR or even Tivo.

Short version: In a world that lives in the NOW, I'm sorry but there is NO "See I told you so!" --- the world just forgets that don't matter and moves on.

No reward for being right, no gloating --- welcome to this forgetful world, but find satisfaction that usually the good side wins --- it's just you never get to throw the party and never happens in a timely manner.

Realplayer?! (1)

JThundley (631154) | about 9 months ago | (#44340131)

That's nice that they recommended VLC, but I can't take this recommendation seriously when they also recommend RealPlayer.

Bluray (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340651)

Ripping blu-ray atm is akin to ripping dvds around the time of decss slow and painful
i have however figured out a rather neat method involving a virtual machine on linux and windows xp
unfortunatly it makes the already slow process akin to Trenching a copy of the grand canyon
with a spoon.

DVD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44341117)

First of all, who the hell still uses DVDs in the first place? Welcome to 1998.

Not Exactly Accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44342039)

the house document lists vlc as example (one of several) playback software for multimedia files.. makes absolutely NO MENTION of DVDs (commercial, protected or otherwise) whatsoever. it is entirely possible that the authors and editors of the document do not know vlc's full feature set... so while it can be seen as an unofficial endorsement (it is only a suggestion in 'guidelines' for members to follow when posting content to the web) by having a predisposed bias and by stretching the facts just a little.. it is in no way an endorsement (or anything remotely the same as one) for vlc as a dvd playback application.

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