Sony Corp and other US movie studio owners might succeed in forcing DVD-copying products off the market after a federal judge indicated she may decide the products violate federal copyright law.
US District Court Judge Susan Illston said she was "substantially persuaded" by recent cases in which courts have banned computer technologies that could be used to illegally copy movies. The studios asked Illston to find that DVD duplicating products made by 321 Studios Inc are barred by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
The 321 products allow consumers to get around encryption codes that prevent copying.
To prove 321 violates the law, "isn't that all they have to show?" Illston asked.
US film studios lose an estimated US$3 billion in potential worldwide sales each year due to piracy, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. The studios want to stop programs such as 321's DVD Copy Plus, which sells for as little as US$50, before DVD piracy becomes as prevalent as song-swapping sites on the Internet.
Daralyn Durie, an attorney for closely held 321, said there are legitimate reasons for making copies of DVDs, including making duplicates of some material and for teaching purposes.
There is just no evidence that Chesterfield, Missouri-based 321's products are being purchased to support piracy, Durie said.
"When I buy a DVD, I've paid money for it and there's no license restriction that tells me what I can and can't do with it," Durie said at a hearing in court on Thursday.
The legal skirmish was initiated by 321 when it sued the movie studios in April last year to get a court order stating that its products don't violate the DMCA, which makes it a crime to circumvent technologies meant to protect copyrighted work.