321 Studios today announced it filed a motion in the United States District Court of Northern California opposing the motion picture studios' claims in their countersuit filed last month. 321 Studios is asking the court to deny the motion for partial summary judgment filed by Metro Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, TriStar Pictures, Columbia Pictures Industry, Time Warner Entertainment, Disney Enterprises, Universal City Studios and Saul Zaentz Company earlier this year. The motion, by the leading movie studios, threatens to deny consumers' rights to make backup copies of DVDs they already own.
In April, 2002, 321 Studios sued nine major motion picture production companies in an effort to thwart industry threats to stop the sale of its software products, DVD Copy Plus and DVD X Copy, which allow consumers to make personal backup copies of their DVDs. At the crux of the case was 321 Studios' challenge of the constitutionality of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), passed in 1998 to address the issue of copyright protection for digital content. In December 2002, seven of the nine studios counter-sued 321 Studios, falsely asserting that 321 Studios is violating the DMCA by selling DVD Copy Plus and DVD X Copy programs. The movie studios seek a permanent injunction to prohibit 321 Studios from selling or manufacturing its DVD backup products.
"This is a lawsuit about rights; First Amendment and consumers' fair use rights," said Daralyn Durie, 321 Studios' attorney at San Francisco-based, Keker & Van Nest. "The documentation presented to the court in 321 Studios' recent filing illustrates that the position taken by the major movie studios and the legislation behind which they hide - the DMCA - is unconstitutional. It violates the First Amendment rights of third parties who want to engage in protected expression using software and, violates the rights of 321 Studios by prohibiting the sale of their DVD backup products, which are considered speech and are therefore guaranteed protection under Free Speech rights."
Aside from the movie studios' concerns that consumers will pirate DVDs with 321 Studios products, the dispute of fact as to whether DVD copying falls within the confines of the DMCA is at the center of the debate. Despite the assertions made by the movie studios that 321 Studios' DVD X Copy violates copyright law, the product does not violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in any way, according to 321 Studios.
"While the law does not expressly prohibit copying of digital works -- only the distribution and use of tools that circumvent copy prevention technologies -- all technologies used to copy encrypted technologies, such as DVDs, are at risk of being banned regardless of a companies' adherence to the law," said Robert Moore, president and founder of 321 Studios. "When a consumer buys a product like a DVD, they have the right to make a back-up copy of it for their own personal use. It is no different than making a music CD compilation for use in a portable MP3 player or making a backup copy of your computer software. Consumers have the right to back-up their DVD's and protect their fair use rights."