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DVD-Copy Ruling a “Hollow Victory”
Posted Feb 24, 2004 Print Version     Page 1of 1

321 Studios, the maker of DVD-duplication software recently ruled in violation of copyright law, is nevertheless pledging to keep selling it, but without a built-in tool for descrambling movies. In order for the popular DVD Copy Plus and DVD X Copy programs to successfully make copies of DVDs, users will now need to obtain a separate descrambler that is widely available on the Internet, said Robert Moore, founder and president of 321 Studios Inc. "It's a hollow victory'' for movie studios, Moore said.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco gave 321 Studios a week to stop making, distributing "or otherwise trafficking in any type of DVD circumvention software.'' She agreed with the Hollywood studios' contention that 321's DVD-copying products violate the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which prohibits the circumvention of anti-piracy measures such as the Content Scramble System, or CSS, that is used to protect DVDs.

The ruling does not affect 321's other software for copying computer games or creating DVDs from home videos, PowerPoint presentations, and digital photos. It also does not cover the scores of DVD-copy products available elsewhere online, often for free.

Moore said 321 would fully comply while it appeals the ruling. Retailers are also encouraged to return unsold copies to the company, he said, though the judge did not specifically order that. The company will also remove anti-piracy features that Moore said had been included "as a show of good faith.'' They include embedding a disclaimer on all copied DVDs that they were not originals. Another feature being stripped had prevented further duplication.

Moore said the company would likely lose hundreds of thousands of dollars destroying the versions with the descrambling tool built in, on top of the millions of dollars already spent on legal fees. Despite selling about 1 million copies of DVD Copy Plus and DVD X Copy in the United States, Moore said, "we haven't made any profits yet because we've been giving it to the lawyers.''

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