Hollywood studios allege DVD piracy in suit

Eight major movie production studios, including Disney and Paramount Pictures, ask a federal judge to stop three New Yorkers from distributing software that allows bootleggers to copy DVD film disks.

NEW YORK--Eight major movie production studios, including Disney and Paramount Pictures, have asked a federal judge to stop three New Yorkers from distributing software that allows bootleggers to copy DVD film disks.

In a suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the studios charged the defendants have posted the software on their Web site along with messages encouraging DVD copying. The copying program, DeCSS, unscrambles a security code on DVDs that is supposed to prevent their duplication, said Richard Taylor, a spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America.

Defendants say the DeCCS program was created not to make illegal copies of DVDs but to enable interoperability with the Linux operating system.

"I am not responsible at all," said Roman Kazan, of Manhattan, one of the defendants.

Two weeks ago, a separate coalition representing the consumer electronics industry filed suit in California against 72 programmers and Web sites seeking to block the distribution of DeCSS, posted on the Internet by a 16-year-old Norwegian student in October. Earlier Monday, a hearing to decide whether a temporary restraining order should be issued was postponed. (See related story)

The New York suit, along with a similar one filed in Connecticut Monday by the motion picture association, are the first brought by the studios. The Connecticut suit, which was filed in federal court, names one defendant, Jeraimee Hughes.

The studios say the new technology enables unauthorized film copies to be transmitted over the Internet, stored in computer memories, and duplicated for sale and exchange. "Once these copies are in the hands of another user, the unlawful process can begin once again because the copies have the clarity and quality of the original DVDs," the complaint says.

"Yes, you can trade DVD files over the Internet," one of the defendants is alleged to say on his site, according to the complaint. "You can break the encryption on any DVD."

Kazan said he owns a company that hosts hundreds of Web sites, including two run by the other defendants, Shawn Reimerdes, also of Manhattan, and Eric Corley, of Setauket, New York. Reimerdes and Corley could not be reached for comment.

Also filing the suit were Twentieth Century Fox Film, Time Warner Entertainment and Columbia Pictures Entertainment, among others.

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