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DVD-Copying Software Maker Meets Deadline


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The Associated Press
Friday, February 27, 2004; 9:40 PM

ST. LOUIS - The maker of DVD-copying software declared in violation of copyright law met a judge's Friday deadline in rolling out retooled versions, then pledged an ambitious bid for consumers to shower Hollywood and lawmakers with outpourings in its defense.

The St. Louis-area company, 321 Studios Inc., hustled out a version of software that removes a built-in tool for descrambling movies, complying with an injunction issued Feb. 20 in California by a federal judge who found certain 321 products in violation of Hollywood studios' copyrights.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ordered 321 by Friday to stop making, distributing "or otherwise trafficking in any type of DVD circumvention software."

The company, now seeking a stay of the injunction, honored Illston's imposed deadline and, essentially one minute into Friday, began distributing and selling a "ripper-free" versions of its DVD X Copy software online.

The company has said it has sold a million copies of the questioned DVD Copy Plus and DVD X Copy nationwide, and that it likely would lose hundreds of thousands of dollars destroying the versions with the descrambling tool built in - on top of the millions already spent on legal fees.

The Chesterfield-based company has argued that its products merely give consumers fair use of the movies they've bought, including backing up expensive copies of children's movies in case the originals get scratched.

That campaign has given way to Monday's planned launch of "Five Days of Protest," during which consumers though 321-sponsored will be asked to write, call, e-mail or fax newspaper editors, Hollywood studios and federal lawmakers on the company's behalf.

"It's to let these people know we're law-abiding citizens, not a bunch of pirates," said Robert Moore, 321's president and founder. "This (software) is for making fair use of legally acquired digital property, for doing what we want to do with our own stuff. Apparently, that message has not gotten across."

Jack Valenti, head of the Motion Picture Association of America, has suggested that consumers have no legitimate need for such software. He told The Associated Press in November, "If you buy a DVD you have a copy. If you want a backup copy you buy another one."

Messages left Friday with the MPAA were not returned.

In her Feb. 20 ruling, Illston agreed with the studios' contention that 321's DVD-copying products violate the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which bars the circumvention of anti-piracy measures such as the Content Scramble System used to protect DVDs.

The ruling does not affect 321's other software for copying computer games or creating DVDs from home videos, PowerPoint presentations and digital photos. It also does not cover the scores of DVD-copy products available elsewhere online, often for free.


On the Net:

321 Studios,

Motion Picture Association of America, Home

© 2004 The Associated Press

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