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Saturday, December 21, 2002
Seven major movie studies sue maker of DVD backup copy software


Hollywood fought back against the makers of DVD movie copying software, countersuing the company for allegedly trafficking the tools of digital theft. Seven major motion picture studios filed the counterclaim Thursday in federal court against 321 Studios, the makers of DVD Copy Plus and DVD X Copy.

The software sold at stores nationwide allows the user to make a copy of a DVD to a blank CD or DVD by defeating the copy protections encoded onto the original movie disc - activity the studios say is a legal no-no.

The movie studios say the software contains the power of digital piracy, and asked the court to enjoin 321 Studios from selling it or distributing it further. The studios also seek damages from any proceeds derived from the company's software sales.

``It's like somebody selling a digital crowbar. It's like breaking into the castle if you will,'' said Patricia Benson, an attorney for the studios.

When 321 Studios' first product - DVD Copy Plus - came out and the company sought a declaration that it did not violate federal law, Hollywood shrugged and the company sought to have the case dismissed.

DVD Copy Plus copies DVD movies to blank CDs, though in a compressed video format.

But with the advent of 321 Studios latest offering - DVD X Copy - the stakes are a little higher. The software allows the user to burn an exact copy of the original DVD to a blank DVD, without any diminished quality or ``lossy'' compression.

``When the second product came out and 321 Studios started marketing it very aggressively, the landscape kind of changed,'' Benson said.

The studios allege both 321 Studios products violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which makes illegal the distribution of any technology or device that allows the user to circumvent copy protections put in place by the content owner.

Elizabeth Sedlock, a spokeswoman for 321 Studios, says the software is not illegal, she said.

``We allow consumers to make a back-up copy of their DVDs,'' Sedlock said.

321 Studios is based in Chesterfield, Missouri. The studios that filed the joint counterclaim are Columbia Pictures Industries Inc., Disney Enterprises Inc., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Tri-Star Pictures Inc., Time Warner Entertainment Company LP, Universal City Studios Inc., and The Saul Zaentz Company.


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