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Movie industry settles DVD chips case

Victory for MPAA

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The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has settled a suit with a microchip maker, which it had accused of breaching a license that required it to sell DVD chips only to properly licensed companies.

The MPAA sued ESS Technology in April 2004, as part of a crackdown on the illegal distribution of Content Scramble System (CSS) chips, which are used to unlock the security features on copyrighted movies on DVDs.

CSS is found in all legitimate copyright-protected DVDs. The microchips in DVD players allow them to unscramble the CSS-protected content and play the DVD.

But the use of CSS is controlled by an industry group known as the DVD Copy Control Association, which licenses companies to manufacture DVD players and the microchips. The licence forbids the sale of CSS chips to DVD player and computer manufacturers that do not have a valid CSS license because such entities have no contractual obligations to implement appropriate security features.

Potentially, says the MPAA, unauthorised players could be used to illegally copy DVDs.

Fremont, California-based ESS Technology, which was accused of selling chips to unlicensed manufacturers, has now agreed to sell chips only to DVD CCA licensees.

"ESS totally supports the enforcement of all parties' valid intellectual property rights and is committed to being a leader in enabling content protection features," said Robert Blair, President and CEO of ESS. "We look forward to working with the motion picture industry in their world-wide enforcement efforts and in the development of next-generation anti-piracy technology."

"Our member companies are pleased to have settled this lawsuit, and believe that the terms of the settlement will help enable the member companies to ensure correct procedures are followed by ESS and all other chip manufacturers in the future," said Dan Robbins, chief technology counsel for the MPAA.

Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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