August 3, 2004 10:10 PM PDT

DVD-copying trailblazer shuts its doors

DVD-copying software maker 321 Studios has closed its doors, driven out of business by a succession of court decisions that said its most popular product was illegal to distribute.

In a posting on its Web site, the company said it could no longer sell or support any of its products.

"Despite 321 Studios' best efforts to remain in business, injunctions entered against 321 Studios by three U.S. federal courts earlier this year has resulted in 321 Studios no longer being able to continue operating," the site now reads.

The St. Louis-based company had cast itself as a test case of controversial provisions in copyright law that make it illegal to distribute software that breaks through digital copy protections.

Executives said that the company's popular DVD X Copy, which allowed people to make copies of DVDs, was simply a tool that allowed people to exercise their rights to make backups of legally purchased movies.

However, most commercial DVDs come wrapped in a copy-protection mechanism that prevents that kind of backup. Several courts subsequently ruled that even if consumers might have a theoretical right to make their own personal copies, 321 Studios could not sell tools that would help them break through that copy protection.

After deliberations that lasted nearly eight months, a San Francisco federal judge in February quickly followed, and by mid-June the company said it was close to shutting down.

On its Web site, the company says some versions of its legal products are still available in stores. It offers an online form for people to check the status of outstanding rebates.

While no longer available in stores, the company's software, along with other DVD copying tools, are still being widely distributed through peer-to-peer networks and elsewhere online.

12 comments

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Is it really legal to prevent legal rights?
Here's a question:

Does anyone know if it is legal to prevent consumers from taking safety back-up's (which are legal), by implementing copy-protection (that are illegal to break) that prevents taking legal back-up's. Have this ever been tried in court?

How am I supposed to do if I want to take a back-up of a movie or a music-cd or a software without actually breaking the law by circum-venting the copy-protection? What does, for instance, BSA or RIAA have to say on this matter?

Since I don't live in the USA, it is quite a pain-staking process of calling for instance a software company's supportdesk and asking for a new copy of a software-cd if my legally bought-and-payed-for original cd breaks down. It would be much more conveniant if I just could excerise my legal right to take a back-up of the cd, "just in case".
Posted by TurboG (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
DMCA
Simply put, the DMCA makes it illegal to copy ANYTHING that has copy protection on it.

In other words, making just one backup of a DVD you purchased can, theoretically, land you in jail.
Posted by Jim Harmon (329 comments )
Link Flag
So much for my 321 Studios rebate!
It's been widely known that xcopy was mainly a cobbling together of several tools like deCss, and burning applications which can still be found online.

The whole 321 adventure only further illustrates that the studios (ie., "content developers") need to invent a business model than involves a subscription to content, much like cable tv. For example, if you have a STARZ subscription, and a Netflix account, and can view any movie currently available, what is inherently wrong in having a local copy? As long as your "subscriptions" are active, all you're doing is watching it -- you're not selling it, or setting up swap meet distribution.

So, for the average user the concept of "fair use," "viewings," "rental," "ownership" and "subscription" have become blurry.

I, for one, am tired of re-purchasing the same film over and over ... VHS copy of film, laserdisc copy of film, DVD copy of film... and in 2006/7 a "blu-ray" (or DVDHD) copy ?

After spending $300 on a film, I think the studios pretty much owe you a free copy.

Chris
Posted by Neotrope (74 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The demand for the product will dictate its availabilty
As long as there are consumers out there who want to make dupes of their movies for whatever reason, there will be software readily available to help them do it. Bankrupting 321 is a shame when one considers that software is available FOR FREE that does exactly the same thing:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://dvdshrink.org/" target="_newWindow">http://dvdshrink.org/</a>

When will the labels/studios learn to let go of the archaic belief that they'll be able to strictly control the distribution of their media in an information age? If they spent more time focusing on promotion and outputting quality product that people would _want_ to pay for, they'd be far more successful.
Posted by yetiwisdom (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
321 Studios close to shutting down
I recently purchased the 321Studios DVXTREME suite of programs for about $100. Now I no longer have support for my expense as promised at time of purchase. I am not interested in nor do I duplicate music and videos. I use the programs in authoring my own family history videos.

I must question if the San Francisco Judge making the 321 Studios decision realize that it was his action that cheated me out of my money. I am a law abiding citizen of the United States and feel violated in that I will never realize the promised upgrades to an excellent series of programs because he decided its easier to penalize the company making the software rather than penalize those actually performing illegal copying. Why dont they just strike down corporations making whiskey, guns, and automobiles, after all, they too may be used in performing illegal acts of much greater consequences.

Is this the same judge that told Excite@Home they could pull the plug at midnight and without warning their hundreds of thousands of customers when they went bankrupt? We lost valuable emails in our in, sent and keep boxes as a result. Therefore, just who are the victims? The decisions made are clearly in favor of big business and to hell with all law abiding citizens left holding the bag.

Your Honor, you owe me $100.00 or a replacement for similar software. Pay me and all others which are being cheated by your decisions. Turn in your robe and then take your place among all the other rogues that are being recognized for blighting this Country with their self-serving actions under the guise of authority.
Posted by bobbycrab (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Don't know if is legal?
But I bought a copy in April and just loaded it and it needs to internet connect but 321 is down in the USA. Are they providing support in Canada.

Any ideas how I can get my copy up and running?

Thanks
MJYEE
Posted by (1 comment )
Link Flag
One of the few reasons i am happy to live in Canada
The absolute ridiculousness of the rulings and
the power of an industry that wants to control
everything in the name of protection is killing
innovation. This is exactly what they want.
Companies like 321 should just move themselves
offshore and distribute their products anyway.

In Canada, the courts have ruled that
individuals can make copies for personal use.
The fact that MPAA has enough clout and can get
enough idiot law-makers to listen to them is
beyond me.

I think that lawyers and the ability to sue
anyone for anything has finally gone too far.

But,really it ultimately won't matter since
individuals will always find a way around
whatever the MPAA and others try to implement to
stop people from making copies.

After all you can still find copies of DeCSS
online, you just have to know where to look.
Posted by mrclean (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What is Fair??
Just like everybody else, I don't under stand why I cannot make a copy of a DVD or CD or what else I pay for. I paid for it, now tell me why I cant do what I want with it. If the mpaa, riaa or who ever really wanted to play fair, what they should do is implement a 100% grantee exchange policy. If for ANY reason the disk becomes unusable, you should be entitled to get a FREE copy again. Whether it be scratch or Broke into pieces. Some how I think I have a better chance at winning the big lotto than seeing this happen.

There should be no reason for some to pay for something and not be able to do WHATEVER they want with is so long as it does not affect another persons (live) in any way. If I want to open up my xbox and put extra parts in it, or buy special decoding devices for something. It should be MY business. The government does it all the time. They fly there spy planes over countries and pick up the signal and do what they want with it. Not to mention what they do to us.

I may be getting a little off topic, but the point is WHAT IS FAIR!!!???!!!!
Posted by (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
hmm
hmm?
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
321 Studios
Since they had shut down. Now I am stuck with a software I can no longer use. I had paid a some of money that I won't get back. This is unfair. Being that they knew this was going to take place 321 Studios should not have continued to sell there products.
Posted by eannie13 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
No longer ranked on www.dvdxcopyreviews.com
Wow, DVD X Copy was an excellent product - the best DVD Copy Software of all time. As per <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.dvdxcopy.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.dvdxcopy.com</a> , DVD X Copy products are no longer being sold or supported. I went to <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.dvdxcopyreviews.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.dvdxcopyreviews.com</a> and there are some excellent DVDXCopy alternative software programs for DVD copying. I've tried both of the top ranked DVD copy software products and they are both awesome! Both of these companies picked up where 321 Studios left off.
Posted by shakenbaker (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No longer ranked on www.dvdxcopyreviews.com
Wow, DVD X Copy was an excellent product - the best DVD Copy Software of all time. As per <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.dvdxcopy.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.dvdxcopy.com</a> , DVD X Copy products are no longer being sold or supported. I went to <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.dvdxcopyreviews.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.dvdxcopyreviews.com</a> and there are some excellent DVDXCopy alternative software programs for DVD copying. I've tried both of the top ranked DVD copy software products and they are both awesome! Both of these companies picked up where 321 Studios left off.
Posted by shakenbaker (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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