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Monday, February 14, 2005
DVD Ripping Flourishes


Hollywood's attempts to stamp out DVD copying are circumvented by the proliferation of DVD-duplication tools.

As PCWorld reports, Illegal DVD-ripping software is flourishing, despite well-publicized wins by DVD piracy foes and laws against copying Hollywood movies. Although U.S. copyright laws outlaw the sale of software that bypasses DVD copy protection, many companies continue to make the software packages available.

BlazinDVD of Jamaica, New York, is one of a dozen U.S. firms that PC World found on the Internet selling such software. BlazinDVD's offering was called Perfect DVD Copy, and a photo of the software's CD jewel case displayed on the company's Web site claimed the program would "Override All Copy Protection". A week after PC World contacted the company to discuss this statement, Perfect DVD Copy was no longer available. A company spokesperson said BlazinDVD wasn't aware the software violated any laws.

Surplus Computers of Santa Clara, California, and JB Software, based in South Bend, Indiana, both sell a software title called Video Studio 4000 Pro, which is published by an overseas company called Hakku. The software title contains tools for copying DVDs, also known as "ripping."

Owners of both of these companies say they were not aware the software title contained DVD-ripping software. "As far as I know, that software was perfectly fine to sell," says Bobby Hanby, owner of JB Software.

However, the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act bans providing information or tools to evade copy-control technology, including the Contents Scramble System that's used in DVD media. Companies that sell DVD-ripping programs and U.S. users of the software are breaking the law, according to copyright attorneys.

Experts say this thriving software market exists because current DVD copy protection is no longer relevant when it comes to protecting DVDs from being copied. This is because DVD ripping software (as it is called) is so easily purchased online and, in many cases, is available for free on specialty Web sites. However, despite what critics see as a losing battle, Hollywood continues its fight to protect itself from being ripped off.

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