The Motion Picture Association of America has said that its members have sued two microchip makers, alleging they sold their products to makers of equipment that can be used to illegally copy DVDs. The suits are the latest legal action by the MPAA which claims its members lose billions of dollars annually to copyright piracy. The MPAA said the suits against Sigma Designs and MediaTek followed testing that it said proved the two were selling microchips to companies whose DVD players lack what the MPAA called “appropriate security features”. The suits were filed in California Superior Court in Los Angeles. Sigma and MediaTek make chips to decode the Content Scramble System, or CSS, which is the copy-protection system used for DVDs. Their licences require they sell only to other CSS-licensed companies. The CSS licence pact has aided the success of DVDs because it has provided protection against illegal copying to copyright owners of movies, television shows and other content sold on DVD.
In July, a California court issued a preliminary injunction barring ESS Technology from selling its own CSS-decoding chips to unlicensed makers of DVD players.
The MPAA, recognising the damage the advent of digital file-sharing did to the music industry, has waged an aggressive campaign against movie piracy. It has sued people and companies for purported acts of piracy and rewarded movie projectionists for turning in people who make illegal recordings in theatres. However the MPAA was dealt a blow in August when a federal appeals court said makers of file-sharing software (Morpheus and Grokster) could not be held liable for copyright infringement. They had been sued by movie and music companies that claimed they should be held liable because of how their software was used. However it should be remembered that 321 Studios lost its case when trying to promote the legality of its DVD software which circumvented anti piracy and copying encryption.
See Law Updates July 2004 (321 Studios) and see the article by Fred Von Lohmann below. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios v. Grokster, Ltd.,, 259 F. Supp. 2d 1029 (C.D. Calif. 2003, aff’d, CV-01-08541-SVW, slip op. (9th Cir. Apr. 19, 2004).
Article: Ninth Circuit Affirms That Peer-To-Peer Software Providers Are Not Secondarily Liable For Illegal File Sharing Of Copyrighted Material Over The Internet http://www.mondaq.com/article.asp?articleid=27999&searchresults=1
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