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Judge bans DVD X Copy software

Hollywood 1, 321 Studios 0

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DVD duplication software maker 321 Studios has been given seven days to stop selling its controversial DVD X Copy family of utilities, a US federal judge has ruled.

The ruling follows legal action brought against the developer by MGM Studios, Tristar Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Time Warner Entertainment, Disney, Universal City Studios and The Saul Zaentz Company last May. The movie companies alleged 321's product violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

US District Judge Susan Illston, delivering her verdict on Friday, agreed - and formally banned 321 form manufacturing, distributing or otherwise trafficking in the DVD X Copy series.

Shortly after the judge's decision was announced, 321 stated its intention to appeal against the ruling and to request that the ruling be suspended until the appeal has been judged.

321 offers a number of version of DVD X Copy, all based on DeCSS, the open source DVD content descrambler written to allow Linux users to watch DVDs on their computers and already the focus of considerable legal activity.

If it loses its appeal, the company will strip out DeCSS from DVD X Copy, but since it's widely available on the Internet, such a move shouldn't hinder matters much.

The movie studios action against 321 follows action it took against them to force a legal ruling on the validity of the DMCA, specifically with regards to its limitations of fair use. 321 claims its software allows users to make back-up copies of DVDs they have purchased. By enabling such a 'fair use' under pre-DMCA US copyright law, its software should not fall foul of the DMCA. That the wording of the DMCA suggests it does is a confusion that the courts must clarify, the company says.

Meanwhile, 321 is the subject of legal action launched by Warner Home Video in the UK, alleging infringement of the European Union Copyright Directive - Europe's answer to the DMCA - and of the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988. ®

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