Hollywood Unveils New Rules for Movie Lovers

The confusion about what rights consumers have when they purchase movies on DVD is finally over. The answer? We don't have any.

In two separate rulings this week, US judges declared that while you may have dropped $19.99 for that DVD of Paul Blart: Mall Cop, you don't actually own it. It still belongs to Hollywood, and they can tell you exactly what to do with it.

In cases involving RealNetworks' RealDVD software and Kaleidescape's movie jukeboxes, judges ruled these companies cannot legally sell products that allow consumers to make backup copies of their DVDs. Writing in the RealDVD case, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ruleth:

"While it may be fair use for an individual consumer to store a backup copy of a personally-owned DVD on that individual's computer, a federal law has nonetheless made it illegal to manufacture or traffic in a device or tool that permits a consumer to make such copies."

In other words, you can make backup copies of your DVDs, just so long as you don't actually make backup copies of your DVDs. It's like saying it's perfectly legal to mow your lawn, but illegal for anyone to build or sell a lawnmower.

Even better: Like Bruce Willis wrestling a Boeing 737 to the tarmac in Die Hard 2, Hollywood has killed the two most studio-friendly ways to make unpirate-able copies -- thus clearing the path for dozens of illegal DVD copying programs to take over the market. Dudes, you rock!

(eSarcasm is of course constrained from recommending any illegal DVD copying software, though interested parties may find some here, here, here, and here.)

But that's only the beginning. Flush with its courtroom success, Hollywood is busy developing an even more restrictive set of rules governing the content consumers buy borrow license from it, eSarcasm has learned.

Simply by opening the incredibly annoying anti-theft tape on the outside of a DVD package, you may end up "signing" a shrinkwrap agreement which states that during the viewing of any movie your house becomes the property of the studio that distributed it.

Among the new rules Hollywood is proposing:
  • Consumers will be allowed to purchase a DVD of Quantum of Solace, but only if they also purchase at least two copies of Beverly Hills Chihuahua.

  • Any soft drinks or nutritious snack products consumed during the watching of the film must have a direct promotional tie-in with that film. Snacks with tie-ins to other movies will not be accepted.

  • Movie watchers will be allowed to make and eat their own popcorn, but it must be at least three days old and smothered in rancid butter-flavored coconut oil.

  • Viewers of The Day The Earth Stood Still will be forbidden from making disparaging remarks about Keanu Reeves' acting ability.

  • By purchasing any movie starring Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, or John Travolta, you authorize the studio to release your name, home address, and phone number(s) to the Church of Scientology. A CoS e-auditor may will contact you within 72 hours 14 minutes.

  • Anyone repeating lines of dialogue from a movie, such as "Hasta La Vista, Baby," "Do you feel lucky, punk?" or "I have had it with these goddamn snakes on this goddamn plane!" on the Interwebs will be required to pay royalty fees of 50 cents per use.
  • Teenage boys will be permitted to masturbate while watching Transformers II, but not allowed to fast forward through expensive special effects scenes to replay the bits with Megan Fox in them.
  • To ensure the new rules are being followed, the studios will employ copyright enforcement specialists to perform random on-site inspections.

    "If everyone just behaves the way we want them to behave, we'll all get along just fine," said one studio executive while dining on the carcass of a freshly killed kitten. "Some people think they can get away with murder. Only people who run Hollywood studios can do that."

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