Copy Protection Group Sues Kaleidescape
The legal action being taken by the DVD Copy Control Association against video server manufacturer Kaleidescape raises many questions about the product category. Among those questions: Is its future in jeopardy?
Kaleidescape has a license from the DVD CCA to employ CSS decoding in its media servers, which it does.
Now, DVD CCA is suing Kaleidescape for breach of contract, claiming, "[W]hile 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," said William Coats, the lead litigation counsel for DVD CCA, in a statement announcing the suit.
Background, Updates on Kaleidescape & DVD CCA
- DVD CCA Aims to Prohibit DVD Ripping Once and For All (6/07)
- Kaleidescape Prevails in DVD Ripping Case (3/07)
- Kaleidescape CEO: Trial Does Have Fair-Use Implications (3/07)
- Kaleidescape Faces DVD CCA in Court Monday; Fair Use at Stake (3/07)
- Fair Use Act Would Allow In-Home Content Sharing, not DVD Ripping
- Industry Insider: DVD CCA Is an Innovation-Stifling Cartel (1/05)
- Copy Protection Group Sues Kaleidescape (1/05)
DVD CCA filed the suit (case #1-04-CV-031829) on Dec. 7, 2004, in the California Superior Court, Santa Clara County. The Kaleidescape system allows users to copy their DVDs onto the server for instant access via any connected television on the home network. Kaleidescape's scheme disallows the distribution of DVDs on the server to any device not connected to an in-home Kaleidescape client.
But that's not good enough for the DVD CCA, which claims in the lawsuit, "Kaleidescape is required to prevent the creation of persistent digital copies of DVD content and is required to implement architectures that prevent such copying."
Stated more clearly in the suit, "Kaleidescape is required to implement architectures in which the user must have the physical DVD disc in the drive during authentication and playback."
In other words, the suit charges that, after a user copies a DVD onto the Kaleidescape server, he can pass it along to a friend to copy, who can pass it to another friend, and so on.
In an interview with CE Pro, Kaleidescape CEO Michael Malcolm claimed, first of all, that the terms of the license alleged in the lawsuit, "simply are not there [in the DVD CCA license agreement]. I've personally read it cover to cover. Their claims are bizarre."
In any case, Kaleidescape has implemented other rules, if not technological, to ensure that users physically own and retain any DVD copied onto a Kaleidescape server. "We require users to continue to own the DVD, and reserve the right to shut off the system if they violate that rule," he says. (See the user agreement)
Is Hollywood behind the suit?
While the bulk of news stories blame Hollywood for the Kaleidescape mess, Malcolm believes the movie Mecca may not be the instigator of this action. "We've had very friendly dealings with most of the Hollywood studios," says Malcolm. "Some of their executives have purchased Kaleidescape for their homes."
Besides, says Malcolm, "Major studios are selling hundreds of DVDs when someone buys our system." In fact, movie makers represent only one-third of the DVD CCA board, the remainder comprised of consumer electronics and computer manufacturers. Malcolm wonders if would-be competitors in the CE and IT space are behind the suit. "There are members of the DVD CCA who would like to be making a product like ours," he says. "They don't want to see a new CE vendor emerge."
One impartial attorney, who is unaffiliated with the Kaleidescape case but understands the inner workings of the DVD CCA, sees it differently. While it is quite possible that the CE/IT members of the DVD CCA could be behind the Kaleidescape lawsuit, the attorney, who asked not to be identified, suggests that such members would probably be driven more by legal, rather than market, concerns: "It seems more likely that they believed the interpretation of the license implied by the product in question was not one that content owners would support, especially if applied to less expensive and more generally available products."
In other words, Kaleidescape's implementation might invite challenges from Hollywood, thereby hampering the development of the video server category, which has huge potential for the mass market. Basically: Don't blow it for the rest of us.
So what's the solution?
It appears that Kaleidescape did everything by the literal rules. Given today's nascent technology, how could the company implement "architectures in which the user must have the physical DVD disc in the drive ...", which the DVD CCA claims is implied by the licensing agreement? Of course, requiring the presence of the physical disc wholly defeats the purpose of the Kaleidescape product.
What else can Kaleidescape and competitors do but make their ultra-wealthy clients swear to the rules, and threaten to take away their expensive toys if they cheat?
Malcolm has at least one suggestion: "Let customers buy movies from us, then we could destroy the DVD or put it in escrow, so there's no way to copy it. But we don't have the right to do this."
Malcolm has broached this subject in the past. "The problem is, there's no 'them' to talk to," he says. Little is known about the DVD CCA. While not confidential, the membership roster is not readily available. The license agreements are confidential. Check the Website -- there's no contact name, phone number or any other way to contact the powerful organization other than by applying online for a license. (See related editorial)
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Copy Protection Group Sues Kaleidescape (2005)
Kaleidescape has a license from the DVD CCA to employ CSS decoding in its media servers, which it does. Now, DVD CCA is suing Kaleidescape for breach of contract.
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Industry Insider: DVD CCA Is an Innovation-Stifling Cartel (2005)
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