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DVD Copying Software Maker Sues Studios

23 Apr, 2002 By: Holly J. Wagner

321 Studios, which makes DVD copying software, today sued nine of the major movie studios, alleging they are using piracy as a smokescreen to thwart the sale of the firm's DVD Copy Plus software for making backup copies of DVDs.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, challenges the constitutionality of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Citing 321 Studios' free speech rights under the First Amendment, the complaint asks the court to rule that the sale of DVD Copy Plus does not violate key provisions of the DMCA or unlawfully aid consumers in infringing copyright privileges associated with material stored in the DVD format.

321 seeks a court order affirming its asserted right to continue selling DVD Copy Plus. No monetary damages are sought.

The complaint alleges MGM Studios, Tristar Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Time Warner Entertainment, Disney Enterprises, Universal City Studios, The Saul Zaentz Company and Pixar Corp., acting in part under the auspices of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), have threatened to sue 321 Studios and claim that the sale of DVD Copy Plus is illegal under the DMCA.

“We haven't had a chance to review the complaint yet, so I can't comment,' said MPAA spokesperson Emily Kutner.

“We see this as a groundbreaking case with implications that extend to all kinds of digital content,” said Daralyn J. Durie, a partner with Keker & Van Nest, LLP, of San Francisco, which is representing 321 Studios in the case. “We believe that there are substantial constitutional problems with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, not the least of which is barring consumers from exercising their right to make backup copies of DVDs they own. This is one of the first cases asking the court to rule on the crucial question of how this law impacts those rights.”

“DVDs are notoriously susceptible to scratches, heat damage, loss and other problems, and our DVD Copy Plus software enables legal owners of DVD movies to protect their DVD investments by making legitimate backup or duplicate copies for their own use. In our mind, this is no different than making an extra personal copy of a music CD, which is perfectly legal,” said Robert Moore, President of 321 Studios. “We decided to proactively file this lawsuit not only to receive the courts' assurance that we are in compliance with the law but also to raise the broader question of how Americans' First Amendment rights can be protected in this digital age.”

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