Is DVD-copying software legal?

Should an American software company be allowed to legally sell computer applications that enable the copying of commercial DVD discs?

A company called 321 Studios, in Chesterfield, Mo., has filed legal action in a California federal district court to block the motion picture industry’s attempts to stop it from selling software that enables DVD duplications.

Seven Hollywood Studios previously sued 321 Studios over its DVD X Copy and DVD Copy Plus computer applications. The Hollywood group contends the software violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The new filing is a continuation of the original case.

In its latest filing, 321 argues that its software is protected free speech under the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, the DMCA is unconstitutional when it is used to attempt to block software designed to allow people to make copies of program content they already legally own.

Hollywood studios contend that in order to prevent widespread piracy DVD encryption, technologies must be protected in a digital age when home computers can create mirror image duplicates of commercially produced content.

Motion picture industry lobbyist Jack Valenti said the DMCA "makes very clear that anyone who makes available material which circumvents encryption of creative works violates the law."

321 Studio’s DVD X Copy is the first product to let consumers copy an entire DVD movie onto a blank DVD in any computer with a DVD-writable drive. Since being released last November, more than 150,000 copies have been sold at retail outlets including CompUSA, Circuit City and Fry's Electronics.

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