- Moore’s wares enable the copying of discs even if they are scrambled to prevent duplication, as are most movies sold on DVD. This sort of product, officials at the Motion Picture Assn. of America say, blatantly violates a 1998 federal law against picking the electronic locks on copyrighted works.
Moore disagrees, saying the public has the right to make backup copies of the DVDs it buys. His company, 321 Studios of Chesterfield, Mo., has asked a federal judge to rule that its DVD Copy Plus product does not violate copyright law. As an alternative, the company asked the judge to declare unconstitutional the anti-circumvention provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
The case is one of several high-stakes battles in courts and in Washington that pit consumer rights against copyrights.
These fights center on new technologies such as online file-sharing networks, digital television broadcasts and personal video recorders that enable people to make — and in some cases, distribute — high-quality digital copies of music, movies and other creative works.
Film studios, record companies and publishers say digital piracy poses an unprecedented threat to their businesses. Electronics manufacturers, technology companies and civil libertarians argue that the protections demanded by copyright owners would roll back consumer rights and stifle innovation.
In fact, these groups say, Congress already has given the copyright owners too much control. They argue that the technical provisions of the law squash the historical so-called fair-use rights people have to make personal copies of the media they buy.
“If you circumvent [electronic locks] to get access to content that you may have a perfect, fair-use right to get, you are still subject to criminal penalties,” said Gary S. Klein, vice president for government and legal affairs at the Consumer Electronics Assn.
….He slapped together the manual with software freely available on the Internet, then started selling the package from the new Web site for just under $20.
Since then, he has sold 100,000 copies of DVD Copy Plus, offering increasingly polished and expensive versions over time. He also has moved the business from his home in House Springs, Mo., to offices in Chesterfield and hired about two dozen employees.
MPAA spokeswoman Marta Grutka said there’s a clear line between a legal and an illegal product. If it circumvents the scrambling technology on a DVD, “then the developer of the software or device is exposing themselves to criminal prosecution” under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
To Moore and his attorneys, that’s the wrong question. They argue that consumers use DVD Copy Plus to make backup copies of the movies they buy, protecting their investment in the delicate plastic discs. This kind of personal copying is exactly the kind of fair use that other provisions of federal copyright law allows, they say.