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02.23.2004
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Judge rules software for copying DVDs is illegal

In a major victory for motion picture content owners, a federal judge in San Francisco has ruled that popular consumer DVD-copying software from 321 Studios is illegal. The court also ordered that further sale of the product must cease.

Judge Susan Illston granted a request by Hollywood studios for an injunction against 321 Studios, a software company based in St. Louis, Mo. The high-profile proceeding was widely viewed as a test case on whether commercial software could be sold that helps consumers make copies of legally purchased DVDs and video games.

Judge Illston wrote that section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it illegal to sell products that break the anti-piracy technology used to make DVDs, even if consumers do have a legal right to make personal copies of their movies.

“It is the technology itself at issue, not the uses to which the copyrighted material may be put,” Illston wrote. “Legal downstream use of the copyrighted material by customers is not a defense to the software manufacturer’s violation of the provisions (of copyright law).”

321 Studios, which estimates selling about one million copies of its DVD-copying software through such retailers as CompUSA, was ordered to remove the capability to “rip” copy-protected DVDs from its products or take the products off the market altogether.

The company said it would appeal the ruling and seek a stay during the appeals process.

“Despite (the) ruling, 321 stands firm in our vow to fight the Hollywood Studios in their effort to take away our customers’ digital rights,” said Robert Moore, founder and president of 321 Studios. “There is no difference between making a copy of a music CD for personal use and making a backup of a DVD movie for personal use. We are so firm in our belief in the principle of fair use that we will appeal this ruling immediately. And we will take our fight all the way to the Supreme Court, if that’s what it takes to win.”

For more information visit www.321studios.com.

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