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Appeared on: Saturday, January 04, 2003
Supreme court stay withdrawn in DVD copying case

The Supreme Court threw out an emergency stay that barred a former webmaster from putting DVD decryption programs on the Internet. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on Friday had imposed the stay last week at the urging of a group that licenses software to film studios to block the illegal copying of DVDs.

New York attorney Jeffrey Kessler said the association fears that former webmaster Matthew Pavlovich will repost programs that help people duplicate movies for free.

Pavlovich's lawyer said he has no plans to do that, and argued that the stay was unnecessary because decryption programs are already available on hundreds of other Web sites and have been printed in magazines and newspapers.

The DVD industry has been aggressively trying to stop illegal movie copying, which it says costs the industry billions of dollars.

O'Connor's decision Friday was the latest development in a running dispute between the California-based DVD Copy Control Association and Pavlovich. The association sued Pavlovich in California when codes that help people copy DVDs were posted on his Web site in 1999, when he was a college student in Indiana.

A ruling by the California Supreme Court in Pavlovich's favor makes it harder for the movie industry to pursue people who use the Internet to share copyrighted material. The court said because Pavlovich does not live in California and his Web site was not based there, he cannot be sued in California courts.

A lower-court judge had issued an order that prohibited Pavlovich from putting DVD copying programs on the Web; the California Supreme Court decision nullified that prohibition.

The DVD industry persuaded O'Connor to issue a temporary stay last week and said it planned to appeal the state court decision.

Kessler said Friday that the group may reconsider an appeal because of O'Connor's action.

Pavlovich, who studied computer engineering at Purdue University, now heads a startup technology company in Dallas. His attorney, Allonn Levy, said he did not put the DVD copying information on the Web site in 1999 — it was posted by someone else — and that it's unlikely he'll post it in the future. Levy said the copying information can be used legally by consumers.


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