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Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Preemptive Strike 321 Studios makes a product, DVD Copy Plus, that copies video from DVDs, including CSS-encrypted ones. Last week, 321 Studios filed a complaint in the Northern District of California (San Francisco division), seeking declaratory relief from the court. According to the complaint, 321 Studios is facing an FBI investigation and allegations from the MPAA regarding potential violations of the DMCA. Its lawsuit, against MGM Studios, Tristar Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Time Warner Entertainment, Disney Enterprises, Universal City Studios, The Saul Zaentz Company and Pixar Corporation, "seeks declaratory judgment that its distribution of DVD Copy Plus (1) is protected by the First Amendment, (2) does not violate the DMCA, (3) does not violate other provisions of the United States Copyright Code, and (4) does not render 321 Studios liable for direct, contributory or vicarious copyright infringement." (Complaint, para. 38) 321 takes on the DMCA as applied to its activities on a host of fronts, including fair use and the First Amendment. (Complaint, paras. 43 and 48) On its site, 321 invites visitors to sign a petition to movie studios and the MPAA in support of DVD copying: "I can avoid incurring financial losses if any of my DVDs became scratched, overheated, broken, lost, stolen, or otherwise rendered unwatchable. I know, and you know, that DVDs are susceptible to this kind of damage, and it is unfair to ask me to replace a disc that is no longer usable through no fault of my own." 321's "Media Backgrounder" is worth a read, and its News page points to a host of articles about the filing of the suit, including Ernest Miller's deconstruction of the complaint on LawMeme, and Thomas Claborn's (Senior Editor, Ziff Davis Smart Business Magazine) talk with 321's President, Robert Moore, addressing spam concerns. [via Declan McCullagh's Politech] The implications of this case are far-reaching. It will be one to watch.

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