321 Studios, the DVD-copying software maker, shuts down

DVD-copying software maker 321 Studios has closed its doors. The company was driven out of business by a succession of court decisions that said its most popular product was illegal to distribute, CNet News reported.

In a posting on its Web site, the St. Louis company said it could no longer sell or support any of its products. “Despite 321 Studios’ best efforts to remain in business, injunctions entered against 321 Studios by three U.S. federal courts earlier this year has resulted in 321 Studios no longer being able to continue operating,” the site said.

The company had cast itself as a test case of controversial provisions in copyright law that make it illegal to distribute software that breaks through digital copy protections. Executives said that the company’s DVD X Copy, which allowed people to make copies of DVDs, was simply a tool that allowed people to exercise their rights to make backups of legally purchased movies.

Several courts subsequently ruled that even if consumers might have a theoretical right to make their own personal copies, 321 Studios could not sell tools that would help them break through that copy protection.

After deliberations that lasted nearly eight months, a San Francisco federal judge in February issued a preliminary injunction against sale of the software. Several parallel judgments quickly followed, and by mid-June the company said it would close to shutting down.

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