Kaleidescape Wins Narrow DVD Copying Case

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Upscale home media server maker Kaleidescape has won a narrow court victory over the DVD Copy Control Association, which had sued the company over its home theater systems’ capability to make a copy of CSS-protected DVD content for personal use on the system.

The DVD Copy Control Association had sued Kaleidescape, alleging the systems’ capability to copy DVD protected with the Content Scramble System (CSS) violated the company’s license to use CSS technology. Following a seven-day trial, Judge Leslie C. Nichols of the Santa Clara Superior Court ruled that Kaliescape was, in fact, in compliance with the CSS license and that, due to complexity and poor wording, the 20-page CSS specification was technically not part of the license agreement. The judge also noted Kaleidescape had made "good faith efforts" to comply with the DVD Copy Control Association’s license terms.

"Kaleidescape has been operating in the shadow of the DVD CCA’s allegations for over three years. We are gratified that after hearing all of the evidence, the Judge has completely vindicated our position," said Kaleidescape founder and CEO Michael Malcolm.

Kaleidescape’s home theater systems are at the upper end of the market, offering movie and music players for the home, driven by a central server, at prices starting over $10,000.

Judge Nichols’ decision does not appear to clear the way for consumers to legally rip copies of their CSS-protected DVD media without repercussions, however: the ruling appears to apply only to DVD-copying systems which store one copy of a DVD in a copy-protected form for personal use. The DVD Copy Control Association argued that Kaleidescape’s methods opened the door to wholesale piracy, and argued any home theater system serving up DVD content must have physical access to the DVD disc. However, Kaleidescape’s systems store copied DVD movies in CSS format on their theater systems’ hard drive, and use further technology from Macrovision to protect analog outputs; users who strip CSS protection from DVD movies for their own use will still find their activities in an undefined legal arena.

Although the DVD Copy Control Association hasn’t commented publicly on Judge Nichols’ ruling, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if they tried to appeal the decision to a higher court. It’s a safe bet the group is also working on revising its CSS license terms.