DVD Copying Software Sparks New Legal Battle

PCWorld.com – DVD Copying Software Sparks New Legal Battle.

321 Studios is heading to court to find out why you can legally make copies of video tapes and CDs, but not DVDs.

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The software maker plans to release on October 31 a product called DVD X Copy, which allows users to create “bit-for-bit” copies of their DVDs using a standard recordable DVD drive, says company president Robert Moore.

While the software promises to give consumers the same privileges they have for copying VHS movies, it is potentially against the law, according to industry experts. A U.S. legislation called the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act deems it illegal to distribute tools that circumvent copy prevention technologies used to protect DVD content. That is just what 321 Studios' software does.

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“We believe those provisions in the DMCA are unconstitutional because they basically trump the fair use rights,” says Michael Page, an attorney with Kecker and Van Nest in San Francisco, who is part of the legal team representing 321 Studios in its lawsuit. “If you make it illegal to make a backup copy of a work that you lawfully own, you have overstepped the legitimate bounds of the Copyright Act.”

The DMCA ties the hands of software makers, says von Lohmann, who has helped fight similar cases against the DMCA. It is not against the law for users to own copies of their DVD movies, but the DMCA prohibits the distribution of any tools that make such copying possible.

“If someone wants to make fair use of a DVD they bought, they need to circumvent the copy protection technology to do that,” von Lohmann says. “The DMCA would arguably make that illegal.

“If nobody can build the tools, then essentially we've all been denied our fair use rights,” he says.  [Privacy Digest]

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