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Sold chips to dodgy buyers, MPAA alleges

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The Motion Picture Ass. of America (MPAA) yesterday confirmed the organisation has begun legal proceedings against two makers of DVD chips. It alleges that the pair were rather more willing to offer their products more widely than they should be.

The MPAA alleges that the two companies - Taiwan's MediaTek and US-based Sigma Designs - have sold chips designed to decode DVD's Content Scrambling System (CSS) to customers who lack a CSS licence.

The two chipmakers themselves possess CSS licences, but under the terms of said, they must only offer their CSS decryption products to fellow CSS licensees, the MPAA claims.

Specifically, the Association alleges that non-licensees to which MediaTek and Sigma have sold CSS decoders include makers of unauthorised DVD duplication equipment for content piracy.

With Jon 'DVD Jon' Johansen's DeCSS code now widespread it's not like the lid has been kept on the CSS genie, and it's entirely possible for said equipment makers to come up with software and even hardware solutions based on DeCSS. The MPAA formally ended in January this year its legal action to block the distribution of DeCSS.

That could well form the basis of the MediaTek and Sigma's defence - 'if we didn't sell them chips, someone else would have' - when they come to argue their case in the Los Angeles California Superior Court, should the MPAA's legal action get that far.

Neither company has so far commented on the MPAA's lawsuit.

The action against Sigma and MediaTek follows a similar case the MPAA brought earlier this year against ESS Technology. In July, the California court issued a preliminary injunction banning ESS from selling CSS decoder chips to anyone other than CSS licensees. ®

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