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Kaleidescape battles DVD group's copy ban move

Posted: 21 Jun 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:copy ban? DVD movies? Kaleidescape?

The DVD Copy Control Association this week was scheduled to vote on an amendment to its bylaws that would explicitly forbid OEMs from selling systems that make copies of movies, even for secure internal storage on a hard disk. The move is seen as a reaction to the group's loss in a key civil suit it brought against startup Kaleidescape earlier this year.

The DVD CCA, a broad group of studios and CE companies, licenses the security technology for accessing encrypted video on DVDs. Its proposed amendment would make it a violation of the license for anyone to make a system that stores a persistent copy of a video or decrypts a video when the physical disk is not present.

The amendment, slated to go in effect in January 2009, would effectively put startup Kaleidescape out of business and prevent any other companies from making similar products. The startup's founder and chief executive sent a letter of protest against the amendment to the group and a broad list of industry and government leaders.

The Kaleidescape system acts like a high-end video jukebox, storing copies of movies from hundreds of disks on an array of hard drives for later playback. At least one other company has been exploring similar products since the ruling in Kaleidescape's favor.

Kaleidescape and the DVD CCA fiercely debated in court earlier this year whether its system adheres to the contract and adequately secures copies of movies stored on its hard drives. A judge ruled Kaleidescape was not in violation of the contract, primarily because the contract was worded and administered in a confusing manner.

"This proposed amendment, if enacted, will harm consumers because it will suppress competition in the market for DVD playback devices, block the development of new and innovative products that will give consumers new ways to enjoy the DVDs they own, and interfere with the ability of consumers to exercise their fair use rights under copyright law," wrote Michael Malcolm, the founder and chief executive of Kaleidescape in a letter dated June 14.

In the letter, Malcolm charged the intent of the amendment was to put Kaleidescape out of business. Such a move would violate antitrust law, he claimed.

Malcolm sent copies of his letter the three U.S. Congress people, the members of the US Federal Trade Commission, several members of the U.S. Department of Justice, the European Commission and presidents of many of the key DVD CCA member companies including Disney, Fox, HP, Intel, Microsoft, Sony, Toshiba and Universal.

A representative of the DVD CCA was not immediately available for a response.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times Europe

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