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Friday, February 21, 2003
DVD-Copying Software Maker Offers Reward


A maker of DVD-copying software is offering $10,000 bounties for tips about people who are using the product to pirate movies — but the company says the move is not directly related to its legal fight with Hollywood. In the first week after offering the rewards Feb. 11, 321 Studios did not field any tips of suspected piracy — and does not expect that to change, said Robert Moore, 321's founder and president.

"It's primarily our response to the Motion Picture Association of America's continued claims that this software is a piracy tool, that I'm a thief and that every one of my customers is a co-conspirator," Moore said. "Those are their words, not mine, and I'm frankly tired of hearing it."

Moore said his "Piracy Prevention Program" does not suggest the company is caving in to Hollywood's challenges of 321's DVD Copy Plus or its follow-up DVD X Copy. About 200,000 copies have been sold online or in stores for $100 apiece since its November rollout.

"While we believe consumers should have the right to make perfect, personal-use backup copies of DVDs they already own, we are against the illegal use of our products," added Mike Wozniak, 321's chief information officer.

The company, based in the St. Louis suburb of Chesterfield, wants to work with Hollywood and the government to prevent piracy, Wozniak said, calling that "one of our highest priorities."

Messages seeking comment from the Motion Picture Association were not immediately returned.

The software by 321 lets users copy a DVD to a blank CD or DVD by defeating the copy protections encoded onto the original movie disc.

Moore has said DVD X Copy injects electronic barriers into the copies it makes to keep them from being duplicated further. That software also inserts digital watermarks and identifying information that Moore said can trace the source of any file transmitted over the Internet.

Still, the studios say the software contains the power to unleash digital piracy, and they've asked a federal court in California to stop 321 from selling or distributing it further, citing the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The studios also seek damages derived from 321's software sales.

The next court hearing is set for April 25.


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