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DVD org files suit

Group tries to bar Web sites offering piracy tips

WASHINGTON — A lawsuit filed in Santa Clara, Calif., Superior Court Tuesday asks the court to immediately shut down dozens of Web sites that offer tips on cracking the copy protection codes on DVDs.

The DVD Copy Control Assn. also seeks to block the sites from providing links to other sites with information about cracking the DVD encryption.

More than 20 individuals and 70 separate Web sites are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

The Motion Picture Assn. of America, though not a member of the DVD Copy Control Assn., did file an affidavit in support of the lawsuit.

The suit is the latest effort by the motion picture industry, computer makers and consumer electronics companies to defend DVDs from copyright pirates. Although all three industries have been concerned about piracy for decades, they are particularly worried about DVD and other digital formats because of the ease with which pirates can churn out an endless stream of perfect copies. In contrast, traditional analog formats such as cassette or videotape degrade with each copy.

Technology battle

The consumer electronics and movie industries had hoped their encryption technology would provide a formidable barrier to pirates, but it was defeated by a Norwegian teenager in October. Although the teen’s Web site was quickly shut down, other hackers re-posted the decrypting program on the Web, where it quickly spread to dozens of other sites in at least 11 countries.

Sixty-six of the sites received “cease and desist” letters from the Motion Picture Assn. (the international arm of the MPAA), but so far only 25 have voluntarily removed the information about decoding DVDs, according to the lawsuit filed by the Copy Control Assn.

An MPAA spokesman refused to comment on the lawsuit Wednesday. Lawyers for the CCA did not return calls late Wednesday.

DVD’s future at stake

In the suit, the CCA claims there is nothing less at stake than the future of the DVD. “This is because the DeCSS (decrypting) program has the capability to defeat DVD encryption software (allowing) … users to illegally pirate the copyrighted motion pictures contained on DVD videos, (an) activity which is fatal to the DVD video format and the hundreds of computer and consumer electronics companies whose businesses rely on the viability of this digital format,” wrote the org’s lawyers.

They point out that many of the Web sites were clearly aware that they faced potential legal repercussions. One defendant, according to the lawsuit, scoffed on his Web site, “I have the money to go to court,” while another referred to lawyers “and other scum.” Yet another states, “Aren’t these files legal? Oh well, I didn’t know that.”

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