[Linux-aus] DVD decryption, licensing issues

John Knight anarchisttomato at yahoo.com.au
Wed Feb 2 15:02:01 UTC 2005

Hi all,

I was previously working on an article, but my
investigations led far beyond the scope of it. Under
Linux we have the problem of support for encrypted DVD
playback out-of-the-box, we don't have it! In order to
play them, we need a library like libdvdcss or decss,
and the legal status of these is shaky, meaning that
most distributions just opt-out and let their users
download the libraries for themselves.

Therefore I've been searching for some sort of
middle-ground that will be reasonable for both sides
and allow distributions legal encrypted DVD access.
The standard way of doing things is that a company
pays a licence fee of something like US$5000-7000. For
more information see:


Under http://www.dvdcca.org/faq.html it refers to
legal Linux playback, but it sounds like 'traditional'
closed source, single company licensing methods. In
order for legal playback that is DVD Forum approved, I
think we'd have to have something like a united front
from all distributions wanting access rights for any
distribuiton form then on. Perhaps some sort of
one-off payment for the right for an open-source GPL
shared library?

Those statements themselves sound very conflicted,
they'd probably run off scared from the GPL and would
probably only be interested in providing an x86 Linux
binary, if anything at all. Whether or not this
purchased technical info would even be able to
co-exist within the GPL, I'm not sure of! 

Either way, please don't dismiss this as a pipe-dream
and defeat it before it's had a chance like we Linux
users seem to do. I think it's important that Linux
distros are able to provide out-of-the-box encrypted
DVD playback. With Linux's single-boot installation
method, being able to play DVDs as soon as X is setup
would make it even more desirable and perhaps Linux
multimedia would get the tag, "it just works" when
compared to MS offers.

This is a very complicated area, complicated enough
for almost all major distributions to shy away from,
so I'd very much like to hear some of your thoughts on
this important issue.

Thanks in advance,
John Knight.

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