RealTime IT News

Movie Studios Sue DVD Copying Firm

In a long anticipated move, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has filed a counterclaim against 321 Studios, the Missouri developer of software designed to allow users to make a copy of a DVD to a blank CD or DVD.

The MPAA wants to stop all sales of 321 Studios' DVD X Copy, which began shipping to retail stores in early December, and DVD Copy Plus and seeks to recover as damages any profits from sales of the software. DVD Copy Plus allows users to make a mirror image of a DVD.

The major film studios represented by the MPAA claim 321 Studios' software violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which prohibits software or other tools and information designed to bypass copy-control technology. 321 Studios claims its software is legal under "fair use" rights that allow users to make legal backup copies for personal use.

The studios were forced to countersue after 321 Studios asked a federal judge in April to declare its products legal under the fair use doctrine. The motion, filed in the Northern District of California, challenges the constitutionality of the DMCA that was passed in 1998 to address the issue of copyright protection for digital content.

Citing 321 Studios' free speech rights under the First Amendment, the complaint asked the court to rule that the sale of its software does not violate key provisions of the DMCA or unlawfully aid consumers in infringing copyright privileges associated with material stored in the DVD format. The suit seeks a declaratory judgment that will permit 321 Studios to continue to sell DVD Copy Plus. No damages are sought.

The movie studios finally answered the April motion last week and countersued, claiming copyright violations.