The Digital Millennium Copyright Act came into effect in 1998 in the USA. It’s a copyright law that includes anti-circumvention measures. Essentially, it makes it illegal to circumvent “technological protection measures,” including cell phone locks and protections against installing unapproved software on tablets like Apple’s iPad and Microsoft’s Surface RT (jailbreaking).
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes unlocking cell phones, ripping DVDs, removing eBook DRM, and jailbreaking tablets illegal in the USA. However, there’s another surprise: simply watching a DVD on Linux is also illegal.
This is why Ubuntu and other Linux distributions don’t include out-of-the-box DVD support, forcing you to run a command that downloads and installs libdvdcss from elsewhere – not the Linux distribution’s software repositories, or they would get in trouble.
If you are an American who’s watched a DVD on Linux, there’s a good chance the DMCA makes you a criminal.
Technological protection measures are also found on eBooks, so breaking the DRM on an eBook to read it on another eReader is technically a crime, as well. (Not all eBooks have to contain DRM, however. Our eBook has no DRM, although it’s published through Amazon.)
You can find more information about the DMCA and its anti-circumvention measures on the Chilling Effects website.
Playing a commercial video DVD is normally as simple as placing it in a DVD player or a computer’s DVD drive. If it’s a computer, the appropriate software starts up and starts playing it automatically. In an age of DRM-tainted eBooks and other types of files that may not play on all your hardware, DVDs are a convenient way to watch movies without any restrictions.
That’s what it feels like, at least. However, most commercial video DVDs are encrypted using the Content Scramble System (CSS). If you wanted to produce your own DVD player, you’d have to license CSS support from the DVD Copy Control Association (DVD CCA). As part of this licensing scheme, you would also have to implement other copy-protection features, such as the region code system that prevents DVDs purchased in one part of the world from being played on DVD players purchased elsewhere.