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Judge: DVD-copying software is illegal 2-20-04

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20 Feb 2004 9:06 PM
Judge: DVD-copying software is illegal 2-20-04
Judge: DVD-copying software is illegal

update After eight months of deliberation, a San Francisco federal judge has ruled that software company 321 Studios' popular DVD-copying products are illegal.

In a ruling released Friday, Judge Susan Illston granted Hollywood studios' request for an injunction against 321 Studios, saying the small software company has seven days to stop distributing its DVD-copying products
The case was widely viewed as a test of how far commercial software could go in helping consumers make backup copies of their own legally purchased digital entertainment products, such as DVDs or video games. Illston wrote that federal law made it illegal to sell products that--like 321 Studios' software--break through DVDs' antipiracy technology, even if consumers do have a legal right to make personal copies of their movies.

"It is the technology itself at issue, not the uses to which the copyrighted material may be put," Illston wrote. "Legal downstream use of the copyrighted material by customers is not a defense to the software manufacturer's violation of the provisions (of copyright law)."

The ruling, which had been pending since arguments last May in Illston's court, goes a long way toward shoring up Hollywood's weakening digital copy protections for its profitable DVD business--even while potentially eliminating one key driver of sales in the DVD burner market.

In previous interviews, 321 Studios has said it has sold about 1 million copies of its DVD-copying software, many of them through mainstream computer stores such as CompUSA. Under the ruling's terms, the company will have to remove from its software the ability to "rip" copies of copy-protected DVDs or take the products off the market altogether.

The company said it would immediately ask for an emergency stay that would let it keep the software on the shelves but would appeal Illston's ruling, regardless of what happened.

"We can't just lay down for this," 321 Studios President Robert Moore said. "It is too important for the consumer; it is far too important to the evolution of our culture...We think the final battle will be fought at the Supreme Court or at the congressional level."

Hollywood executives praised the ruling.

"Companies have a responsibility to develop products that operate within the letter of the law and that do not expose their customers to illegal activities," MPAA Chief Executive Officer Jack Valenti said in a statement. "Today's ruling sends a clear message that it is essential for corporations to protect copyrighted works while facilitating the enjoyment of entertainment offerings through new digital technologies."

Long battle over DVDs
Illston's ruling is the latest in a long string of rulings that have largely gone against critics of Hollywood's protection efforts, even as the technology to copy DVDs has spread more widely online and off.

Most Hollywood DVDs are protected with a technology called Content Scrambling System, or CSS, which encrypts the content on the discs so that they can only be read by devices with authorized "keys" to unlock the data. A studio-affiliated trade group licenses those keys to DVD player manufacturers.

However, in 1999, a Norwegian teenager named Jon Johansen released a software program called DeCSS, which allowed computers to decrypt DVDs, even without a licensed "key." Once the video was decrypted, it could easily be copied, and so DeCSS quickly found its way into DVD-copying tools.

Hollywood studios sued to keep DeCSS offline, and a New York federal judge ultimately agreed that posting the software online violated parts of the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which bars distribution of tools that break through digital copy protection mechanisms.

Not long afterward, 321 Studios began selling its own software, however. Despite the New York ruling, the company argued that its software was legal and necessary in helping consumers make the personal copies federal law allows.

The company actually initiated the legal battle in early 2002, suing studios in hopes of winning a ruling that'd say its software was legal. The studios later countersued.

In her ruling Friday, Illston proved unconvinced by any of 321's arguments.

Hollywood critics have long said CSS simply controls access to DVDs and that it's not a direct copy protection mechanism. And 321 has argued that since consumers who buy a DVD have the right to access their own movie, it would not be illegal to help them access it by using 321's software.

Illston disagreed, saying CSS was plainly a way to protect copyright holders' rights, as envisioned in copyright law.

She said blocking people from making perfect digital copies of their DVDs did not unconstitutionally hamper free speech or fair-use rights. People were free to make copies of movies in other, nondigital ways that would give them access to the same content, even if not in the same, pristine form, she said.

Nor, she said, did the fact that DVD decryption keys were widely available online in programs like DeCSS make Hollywood's attempts to block copying useless.

"This is equivalent to a claim that, since it is easy to find skeleton keys on the black market, a deadbolt is not an effective lock to a door," she wrote.

Earlier this month, 321 Studios released new software that makes backup copies of computer games. That product will not be affected by this ruling, the company said.

Chief Mod of DXC forums. YE RAG-TAG (#4)
AfterDawn Addict

21 Feb 2004 8:33 AM
FAQs 2-21-04
Will I have to remove this from my pc?
No you will not. This injunction only affects 321 Studios. It does not affect our consumer base.
What does “ripper” mean?
The anti-CSS portion of our software, which handles the copy protection portion of Hollywood-style DVD’s
Can I still activate my product after the injunction goes into effect?
321 Studios will make every effort to allow customers to enjoy the software they purchased.
Will I be liable for any damages caused from any backups that I’ve already made?
No you will not. This injunction only affects 321 Studios. It does not affect our consumer base.
If I buy my product from a retail store, will the same rules apply for returns?
321 Studios will make every effort to allow customers to use the software they purchased.
What does the injunction mean to consumers?
If 321 is unable to obtain a stay pending appeal, you will be able to purchase and utilize our products and we will continue to support them. The only change would be that our product would not contain a “ripper” and you will be left to find a ripper of you choice by yourself.
How will the injunction affect retail distributors?
This injunction only applies to 321 Studios, our retail partners are not effected.
Where is the best resource for me to get the latest information concerning this?
Stay tuned to www.321studios.com where you will find the latest information regarding this legal action.
Will I still be able to receive support for DVD X Copy?
321 Studios will make every effort to provide support and enhancements for DVD X Copy.
What does this mean for future updates of DVD X Copy?
321 Studios will make every effort to provide support and enhancements for DVD X Copy.
What can I do to help?
E-Mail your congressman. Also you can visit www.protectfairuse.org
Is there a place for me to express my concerns?
You can visit www.protectfairuse.org and sign a petition showing your displeasure with the ruling
Are you going out of business?
Where can I buy your product with the ripper?
You can currently purchase our full DVD X Copy product from www.dvdxcopy.com
Where can I read more about the injunction?
Stay tuned to www.321studios.com where you will find the latest information regarding this legal action.
Do I have to pay for upgrades to (or get) the ripper-free version?
321 Studios will supply a free copy of the ripper free version to any current customer who requests it.
If a new version comes out will it have a ripper in it?
321 Studios does not have immediate plans to upgrade the software and will comply with the judges ruling.
Is it illegal for me to own or use the software?
It is not illegal for you to own or use the software. The injunction only applies to 321 Studios.
What is an injunction?
See a writ granted by a court of equity whereby one is required to do or to refrain from doing a specified act
Did you guys lose the lawsuit?
We lost this battle in our fight for Fair Use, but the war is far from over, and we will press on.
Who started the lawsuit?
321 Studios initiated the lawsuit. Please visit our website for more info.
Where can I find more information about rippers?
When is the last day I can buy the software?
We will always sell software. However, you will only be able to purchase the ripper free versions of our backup family after 2.26.04
If I purchase the CD version of the software before 2.26.04 will I receive the latest version of the software w/ the ripper?
Products shipped prior to 2.26.04 will be the original and full version of the Xcopy product.
What is the DMCA?
DMCA stands for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. See www.321studios.com. movie.

Chief Mod of DXC forums. YE RAG-TAG (#4)
AfterDawn Addict

23 Feb 2004 9:17 PM
DVD copying software seen banned despite stay plea
Reuters, 02.23.04, 3:48 PM ET

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Robert Moore, founder of a maker of software that lets people copy DVDs, said Monday he expected an injunction barring his product from being sold would remain in effect despite his plans to request a stay and to file an appeal.

A federal judge in San Francisco Friday ruled that DVD copying software sold by Moore's privately held 321 Studios violates U.S. copyright law, and the judge ordered 321 to stop selling the product within seven days.

The case, which pits privately held 321 against Hollywood's major studios, has been closely watched by the software and entertainment industries as a test of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The studios had argued 321's software was illegal because it thwarted the security software used to secure DVD movies. For its part, 321 had argued that its users had the right to make back-up copies of their DVDs for personal use.

321, based in a suburb of St. Louis, said Friday it would appeal U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston's decision and seek a stay to the injunction so it could continue selling its software in its current form.

"We do not expect the injunction to be stayed," Moore told reporters in a teleconference. "I'm very confused by the order. It is extremely adversarial to our position."

Moore said the appeal and request for a stay would be "presented today or in the next day or two, and certainly before Friday (Feb. 27) when the injunction is supposed to take full force and effect."

But he also said he thought Judge Illston would reject the stay "immediately" and that an appeals court would also reject the request for a stay.

"I'm feeling quite disappointed and disenchanted by the process," Moore said.

The 321 founder and president repeated that he would comply with Judge Illston's order. He said 321 was retooling its product, DVDXCOPY, so that it does not contain the "ripper" software that allows it to circumvent copyright protection coding on a DVD.

This new version will be available for sale after Friday and would allow users to perform many tasks necessary to copy DVDs. Other "Ripper" software can be found and downloaded from the Internet, Moore said.

Copyright 2004, Reuters News

Chief Mod of DXC forums. YE RAG-TAG (#4)
AfterDawn Addict

25 Feb 2004 10:55 AM
Dear 321 Studios Customers & Friends,

As many of you may have already heard, Judge Illston of the Northern District of California Court ruled against us last Friday and in favor of the movie studios. This is the first major decision in the six lawsuits in which we are now involved.

Her ruling included an injunction preventing us from continuing to sell the current version of our popular DVDXCOPY software if it included a ripper. This injunction takes effect 7 days from her order. While we do not agree with the rationale behind the decision, we intend to fully comply with the order and, at the same time, file an appeal and ask her to stay the injunction pending the appeal.

This decision is unfortunate news for us. However, we expected the fight for fair use rights to be a long one when we initiated it almost two years ago. We also expected to face great opposition and to take some hits along the way. Well, we are still here and are not going out of business. Starting next week, we’ll sell ripper-free versions of DVDXCOPY as well as all our other popular titles including DVDXSHOW, DVDXMAKER and DVDXPOINT.

If you’d like to read Judge Illston’s decision or articles written about us, please go to our web site at http://www.321studios.com. If you’d like to offer your support, please visit http://www.protectfairuse.org. Meanwhile, we are making every effort to continue to support you and your 321 products.

Please share this news with your friends and family. We can use all the support we can get to continue fighting for everyone’s fair use rights in today’s digital world.

Thank you for your ongoing support,


Chief Mod of DXC forums. YE RAG-TAG (#4)


Chief Mod of DXC forums.YE RAG-TAG (#4)

This message has been edited since posting. Last time this message was edited on 6 Jun 2004 1:59 PM

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