Why Watching DVDs on Linux is Illegal in the USA

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.

Read the rest @ How-To Geek

Published by

Michael Sauers

Michael Sauers is currently the Technology Innovation Librarian for the Nebraska Library Commission in Lincoln, Nebraska and has been training librarians in technology for more than 15 years. He has also been a public library trustee, a bookstore manager for a library friends group, a reference librarian, serials cataloger, technology consultant, and bookseller. He earned his MLS in 1995 from the University at Albany’s School of Information Science and Policy. Michael’s twelfth book, Google Search Secrets (w/ Christa Burns) was published October 2013 and has two more books on the way. He has also written dozens of articles for various journals and magazines. In his spare time he blogs at travelinlibrarian.info, runs Web sites for authors and historical societies, takes many, many photos, and reads more than 100 books a year.

3 thoughts on “Why Watching DVDs on Linux is Illegal in the USA”

  1. Fluendo DVD Player on Linux (about $20) makes you legal. This is the same for Windows, by default it includes no DVD Codec and most users get it Illegally. And since a lot of people Pirate Windows, they are Criminals anyhow, more so than Linux users.

  2. Yes, the article does specifically address Fluendo:

    “For example, Ubuntu’s Software Center offers the licensed Fluendo DVD Player. This DVD player will cost you $25, although you have probably already paid for licensed DVD-playback software that comes with your computer’s DVD drive in the first place. If you purchased the licensed Cyberlink DVD player, which was previously the only legal option for watching DVDs on Linux in the USA, you probably need to buy the Fluendo DVD Player to play DVDs on modern versions of Ubuntu”

  3. All of these policies are criticized by the users and the general public. Heavy fines and even jail time is the penalty for these “crimes” in the USA. In addition to these new rules, there is a new surprise; simply watching DVDs on Linux is also illegal.

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