April 24, 2014

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DVD-CCA Sues to Suppress Kaleidescape Product

DVD-CCA, the outfit that licenses the lame DVD anti-copying technology, has sued Kaleidescape, a maker of home video servers, according a news.com story by John Borland:

[DVD-CCA is suing Kaleidescape.] The company, which has won several recent consumer electronics awards, said it has worked closely with the DVD CCA for more than a year, and will fight the suit, filed Tuesday.

Kaleidescape creates expensive consumer electronics networks that upload the full contents of as many as 500 DVDs to a home server, and allow the owner to browse through the movies without later using the DVDs themselves. That’s exactly what the copy-protection technology on DVDs, called Content Scramble System (CSS) was meant to prevent, the Hollywood-backed group said.

“The express intent and purpose of the contract and CSS are to prevent copying of copyrighted materials such as DVD motion pictures,” Bill Coats, a DVD CCA attorney, said in a statement. “While Kaleidescape obtained a license to use CSS, the company has built a system to do precisely what the license and CSS are designed to prevent–the wholesale copying of protected DVDs.”

From the DVD-CCA rhetoric, you might think this suit is about copyright infringement. Reading the article and DVD-CCA statements carefully, though, it seems as if it’s just a contract dispute about whether Kaleidescape violated the terms of its license agreement with DVD-CCA.

(I haven’t seen DVD-CCA’s complaint yet, so I can’t be absolutely sure that there are no copyright claims. But if it were a copyright case, one would have expected the plaintiffs to include some major copyright owners, such as movie studios.)

The subtext here is that DVD-CCA is trying to maintain its control over all technology related to DVDs. In the good old days, copyright law gave copyright owners the right to sue infringers but gave no right to stop noninfringing uses just because the copyright owner didn’t like them. These days, copyright interests seem to want broad control over technology design.

It’s far to early to tell whether this lawsuit will involve big policy issues, or whether it will be confined to narrow issues of contract interpretation. Regardless, its a good bet we’ll learn more about how the DVD-CCA operates.

By the way, the DVD-CCA’s “Procedural Specifications” are freely available for download by anybody who provides their name and contact information. (Amusingly, the Procedural Specifications document itself says, falsely, that “[t]he Procedural Specifications are provided only to CSS Licensees, prospective CSS Licensees, and others with a business need to know consistent with the intent and purposes of the CSS licensing process.”)

Comments

  1. Scott Craver says:

    The lawyer from DVD-CCA talks about the express purpose and intent of the contract. That leads me to suspect that they can’t point to any explicit violation.

    This will be an interesting case because even ordinary DVD players (and CD players) make temporary copies of data, internally, just to play the things. This is case is less clear because the copies are whole and persistent, but it boils down to the player making an internal copy for its normal (non-infringing) operation.

    Scott

  2. damaged justice says:

    What happens to someone who uses clean room reverse engineering? Obviously someone who never agreed to and signed a contract can’t be bound by its terms. Hence the criminal penalties in DMCA et al, with the weasel escape clause “for purposes of interoperability” (lawyers and corporate welfare queens love anything that can’t be objectively measured and thus must be subjectively defined).

  3. Wendy Seltzer says:

    I haven’t seen the complaint yet either, but the article says it was filed in state court, so no copyright claims. (Since DVD movies aren’t pre-1976 sound recordings, there’s only federal copyright law.) Odd that they wouldn’t even try to bring 1201 in.

  4. Ravi Nanavati says:

    Well, whether or not they want to bring 1201 in would depend on their goals, right? If, in this case, the DVD-CCA really wanted to resolve what they consider an open-and-shut contract violation suing in state court might be the fastest way to do that, right? Going to federal court and bringing in 1201 would be the strategy if they were looking to create new precedent, but I’d expect that to me more time-consuming and expensive. Or am I missing something?

  5. disLEXia 3000 says:

    DVD-CCA claims CSS is Copy Protection

    But CSS can’t be a copy protection. We have been through that. CSS purpose is enforcement of the terms of a cartel/monopoly. [...] So a kind reminder: Beware of Fuzzy Language!

  6. ajs318 says:

    If the DVD belongs to you, then the encrypted content is not secret from you — you are the intended recipient of the encrypted communication and have the right to view it, by whatever means may be necessary. The sender of the communication {the movie studio} gives up all their rights over it when they send it to you.

    Anyway, encryption doesn’t and cannot prevent copying. That is not a limitation of current technology, but a limitation of the universe. As long as the copy is faithful, whatever can decrypt the original must also be able to decrypt the copy. That is, after all, the definition of a faithful copy! Real-life, film-related example: Laurel and Hardy used to do their own foreign language soundtracks for their films. They didn’t understand a word they were saying {their lines were accompanied by a phonetic notation}, but their audiences did …..

  7. Neo says:

    Just wait till the evil DRM nazis get their hands on quantum encryption. Then it is possible to make a faithful copy and still not be able to decrypt the copy.

  8. Copyfight says:

    Where the “Wow” Went

    One of the goofy songs my mom used to sing me as a child was Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight? I can hear the tune in my head as I read Kevin Maney’s review…

  9. Copyfight says:

    Where the “Wow” Went

    One of the goofy songs my mom used to sing me as a child was Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight? I can hear the tune in my head as I read Kevin Maney’s review…