Video game makers sue over copying program

321 Studios, whose DVD-copying software angered Hollywood, is in legal hot water again.

A group of major video game companies has sued 321 Studios--the company best known for its now-banned DVD copying software--charging that its new video-game copying software is also illegal.

Atari, Electronic Arts and Vivendi Universal Games filed suit against the software company in New York federal court, asking a judge to block distribution of 321 Studios' Games X Copy software.

"Federal law makes it clear that it is illegal to manufacture, distribute, or sell devices or programs that circumvent technological protection measures built into video games," Douglas Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), said in a statement. "That's exactly what 321 Studios? Games X Copy does, and we fully expect the court to grant our request to ban this product."

The St. Louis-based software company has been the subject of repeated lawsuits over the past several years, all focusing on its disc-copying technology.

For more than a year, 321 Studios offered the most popular DVD copying software on the market, sold in stores such as CompUSA. The major Hollywood studios charged that the program violated federal copyright law by evading antipiracy protections in most commercial DVDs.

In February, a San Francisco federal judge agreed, and ordered the software removed from the market . A judge in New York agreed in several separate cases, so 321 Studios now faces at least three injunctions against selling the DVD-copying software.

In response, the software company has stripped the capability to copy protected DVDs from its software, and is selling the slimmed-down product instead. It has appealed the rulings in San Francisco and New York, but has laid off much of its staff in recent weeks.

According to the ESA, more than $7 billion of entertainment software products--mostly video games--was sold in the United States last year.

A spokesperson for 321 Studios could not immediately be reached for comment.

 

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