Movie Studios Sue Web Sites for Passing DVD Copying Secrets

In a move designed to show that owners of intellectual property are determined to protect their assets, seven large American motion picture studios filed lawsuits last Friday in the United States District Courts for New York and Connecticut.

The plaintiffs were Walt Disney’s Buena Vista Pictures, MGM, Paramount, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Universal, and Warner Brothers.

According to a report published in “Wired News,” the lawsuit revolves around a program called DeCSS, purportedly written by a Norwegian programmer, which allows users to bypass the encryption scheme used on DVDs to prevent unauthorized copying. The published report said three Web sites — dvd-copy.com, krackdown.com, and ct2600.com — were named as defendants in the action.

Anonymous Contact

Newsbytes contacted a person by telephone today who said that he was the owner of the Krackdown Web site. However, this person — a male who spoke with a slight English accent — declined to give his name. His reason for preferring anonymity, he said, was because the name Roman Kazan, which appears in the documents filed with the court, is not the correct name of the owner of the Web site. “He’s just the ISP (Internet service provider),” the English-accented person said.

The purported owner of Krackdown told Newsbytes that he had no idea why a lawsuit was brought against his Web site, and that he first found out about the lawsuit from a wire service reporter who telephoned him last Friday.

Krackdown’s purported owner also told Newsbytes that his Web site had no direct links to the DeCSS program or illegal copies of movies, and that, anyway, the DeCSS program’s “source code could be found anywhere.”

The person who claimed to be the owner of the Krackdown site also told Newsbytes that he had taken down the offending site immediately upon being notified of the lawsuit. In addition, he said that he has inserted a link from the Krackdown Web site to that of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the motion picture industry’s trade association.

The next court proceeding, according to the person with whom Newsbytes spoke, is scheduled for January 20th, when a federal court judge will hear the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction barring the defendants from publishing any DeCSS-related material or information.

Valenti Speaks Out

In explaining why the movie studios brought these actions, Jack Valenti, MPAA president is quoted as saying, “If you can’t protect that which you own, then you don’t own anything.”

Shawn Reimerdes, a computer programmer who allegedly maintains the dvd-copy Web site is quoted as saying, “I don’t have illegal copies of movies on my site. Just posting these files shouldn’t be illegal.”

However, when Newsbytes accessed the dvd-copy Web site this morning, there was a defiant statement posted which said, “I was served legal papers today regarding the legality of this webiste (sic). We all know what freedom of speech is, right? Good. Because this site will NOT be taken down under ANY circumstances. I don’t care if it has to move to http://dvd-copy.ru !!!!!!!!!!! Let them serve me papers in Russia!”

No one connected with the dvd-copy or ct2600 Websites could be reached for comment.

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