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Movie studios sue DVD-to-iPod service

The MPAA has sued Load 'N Go Video for offering to load customers' movie collections onto their music players.

The Motion Picture Association of America, citing copyright violations, has sued a company that sells digital media players and offers to transfer customers' CD and DVD collections to the devices.

The MPAA, the trade group representing the film industry, contends that the company, Load 'N Go, isn't licensed to sell DVDs or rip them to customers' media players.

"This company is in the business of offering unlawful copies of DVDs," said Kori Bernards, an MPAA spokeswoman. "It makes unauthorized copies of movies and TV shows from encrypted DVDs and copies them on to portable video players."

On Friday, attempts to reach the operators of Boston-based Load 'N Go were unsuccessful. The company's Web site could not be accessed. A customer service number was disconnected and e-mails bounced back.

Fred von Lohmann, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, called the suit Hollywood's attempt to force consumers to pay multiple times for the same content.

"This (lawsuit) would apply to you making a copy of your own DVDs in your own home," von Lohmann said. "The movie industry is not just fighting piracy. They are in fact trying to take away your fair use rights and sell them back to you later."

"Fair use" refers to guidelines that negotiate the interplay between content producers and consumers.

Fair Use proponents argue that consumers should have wide-ranging rights when it comes to content they legally purchase. They contend, for example, that a DVD owner should be free to transfer their movie onto any device they want.

The problem for Load 'N Go, says von Lohmann, is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, which outlaws any technology created to undermine copyright protection schemes.

Cases tried in New York have found that ripping CDs or DVDs violates the DMCA, von Lohmann said.