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321 Studios Makes Lots of Noise in Protest of Court Ruling

3 Mar, 2004 By: Holly J. Wagner

DVD copying software maker 321 Studios is in the middle of a “Five Days of Protest” event the company launched in response to an appellate court ruling that declared 321's DVD X-Copy software in violation of copyright law.

Although 321 is appealing the ruling, and the company's founder and president, Robert Moore, has vowed to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary, the company is using the Internet to mobilize its customers and supporters.

The “Five Days of Protest” campaign includes a phone drive encouraging customers and advocates to call film studio executives and share their opinions about the “fair use paradox” in which it is legal to have backup copies of legally purchased media, but not the tools to make backup copies.

The company also sent a mobile billboard to key points around the Los Angeles area, visiting major movie studios, including Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Studios, Walt Disney Studios, Time Warner/Warner Bros. Studios, Universal City Studios and Columbia Pictures as well as other high-profile locations. The truck sports banners 7 feet high and 25 feet wide that read: “YOU'RE NO PIRATE, BUT SOME HOLLYWOOD EXECUTIVES SAY YOU ARE. TELL THE STUDIOS YOU'LL FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT TO BACKUP DVDS YOU OWN ... www.ProtectFairUse.org.”

321 spokespersons claim the drive has yielded nearly 73,000 e-mail letters to studio executives, politicians and the media, including more than 42,000 letters generated during Tuesday's call to action for consumers to fax studio executives.

321 sought a declaration in 2002 that DVD X-Copy did not violate copyright law. In a decision rendered Feb. 19, Judge Susan Illston sided with the studios in finding that 321's DVD copying software violates anticircumvention provisions of the DMCA and ordered that the company stop “manufacturing, distributing or otherwise trafficking in any type of DVD circumvention software.”

Since then, the company has begun shipping a “ripper free” version of the software, but Moore said 321 would lose hundreds of thousands of dollars by destroying pre-decision copies of the suite and retooling to abide by the ruling in future iterations.

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