Courts Derail DVD Copying Systems

SAN JOSE, Calif.—New DVD copying devices have suffered a major setback in a development seen as a victory for mainstream and adult content producers. 

Wednesday, The 6th District Court of Appeal in San Jose, Calif. ruled that a $10,000 DVD copying system called Kaleidescape and its related products from a firm out of Sunnyvale, Calif. could not fully move forward because they violate Content Scramble System licensing. The ruling overturned a prior court decision that green-lighted the system, Wired reports.

While the judge did not block Kaleidescape from marketing its products, he did order a lower court to review the CSS contract to determine if Kaleidescape’s DVD-copying systems are in breach of contract.

IIa a second ruling this week related to DVD replication, a San Francisco federal judge ruled Tuesday that RealNetworks’ DVD-copying software also breached content scrambling.

Wired explains that the license allows DVD players to descramble the encrypted code on a DVD, but the prohibits the duplication of a DVD. Both RealNetworks and Kaleidescape have claimed a loophole in the licensing allowed the copying of DVDs, but for now the two courts have clearly ruled otherwise.

"We conclude that the mutual intent of the parties at the time the license agreement was signed was that the DVDCCA would grant Kaleidescape permission to use CSS in exchange for the payment of an administrative fee and Kaleidescape’s promise to build its system according to specifications that DVDCCA would later provide. This promise is express and complete on the face of the license agreement,” the appeals court decision said.

“This seems to be a change in the law," Michael Malcolm, Kaleidescape’s chief executive, told Wired. “Other than that, it is going to be business as usual and we will be selling and supporting Kaleidescape systems as always.”

The case was filed by the DVD Copy Control Association, representing film studios. In a statement, the association said, "We look forward to returning to the trial court to obtain an injunction requiring Kaleidescape to comply with its contractual obligations under the CSS license agreement and specifications."

If a higher court ultimately rules for DVD copying systems such as Kaleidescape and RealNetworks’ RealDVD, it could deal a major blow to the movie industries—and certainly the adult industry's—battle against rampant piracy.  If content makers prevail, however, it could help curb piracy. The case could drag on for years.