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FROM <i>THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER</I>: Supreme Court Enters DVD Flap

31 Dec, 2002 By: Brooks Boliek


WASHINGTON -- DVD copying has come to the attention of the nation's highest court as Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has agreed to put on hold a California Supreme Court decision restricting the entertainment industry's ability to sue people posting programs that crack encryption codes embedded in the discs.

O'Connor last week agreed to the California-based DVD Copy Control Assn.'s request for the stay, giving the court time to collect more arguments. She requested filings by later this week.

The group, which licenses DVD encryption software to the motion picture industry, has spent three years trying to stop illegal copying. Lawyers for the association told the Supreme Court that the stay was needed to keep former webmaster Matthew Pavlovich from reposting a decryption program on the Internet.

In November, the California Supreme Court ruled that Pavlovich cannot be sued for trade secret infringement in California. Justices there said he could be sued in his home state of Texas or in Indiana, where he was a college student when codes that allowed people to copy DVDs were posted on his Web site in 1999.

Attorneys for the DVD Copy Control Assn. contend that the suits should be argued in California because the motion picture industry is based there.

The original program, written by a teenager in Norway, is just one of many easily available programs that can break DVD security codes.

The ruling by a divided California court makes it harder for the industry to pursue people who use the Internet to share copyrighted material.

Pavlovich's attorney, Allonn Levy, told the Associated Press on Monday that a group should not be allowed to "drag a student who's involved with a Web site into a forum that's halfway across the country." He said the case affects all people who use the Internet and businesses with sites on the Internet.

New York technology analyst Richard Doherty said companies have delayed many new products, services and forms of entertainment because of the DVD industry's problems.

"The future of digital delivery has been on hold ever since this case first came," said Doherty, head of the Envisioneering Group. "They need to know it's going to be protected, it's not going to be ripped off seven seconds after being put on the Internet."

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