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Media Storage Could Be on Trial

19 Jan, 2005 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Kaleidescape can store content from hundreds of DVDs.

A recent suit has brought media storage and network advancements into question.

The DVD Copy Control Association last month slapped Kaleidescape — a manufacturer of a $30,000 home theater network system that allows users to copy, store and disseminate commercial DVDs — with a breach of contract lawsuit.

Since 2002, Mountain View, Calif.-based Kaleidescape had procured licenses with the association to allow its system to navigate the CSS copy-protection code, and copy and store content from a commercial DVD onto its server.

According to terms of the agreement, licensed manufacturers were prohibited from producing and selling products that thwarted any CSS protections, including the one requiring user to have the original DVD in the drive during authentication and playback.

In the complaint, the association alleged that content copied to the Kaleidescape server remained playable without the physical presence of the original DVD and thus constituted a breach of the CSS license.

Association lawyer Bill Coats contends a DVD cannot be taken out of the Kaleidescape system once it is copied.

“With the content inside the system, the cat is out of the bag, so to speak,” said Coats, who disagreed that Kaleidescape's substantial cost would deter pirates.

“The cost would be insignificant to the large-scale pirate,” Coats said. “And you know how technology goes — the first generation is always expensive.”

The timing of the suit and lack of details in the contract with Kaleidescape portend a bigger issue than purely piracy concerns, according to Daralyn Durie, the lead attorney representing Kaleidescape.

“It is potentially bigger than just Kaleidescape to the extent that [the DVD Copy Control Association] is trying to prevent people from doing things even more broadly than what their license agreement requires,” Durie said.

Fred Von Lohmann, senior intellectual property lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, agreed, wondering why the studios would want to pick on Kaleidescape, which he said had done everything in its power to be legitimate.

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