Kaleidescape, DVD CCA Back in Court Over Movie Servers

Latest trial could determine if Kaleidescape movie servers breach contract with DVD CCA, licensor of CSS decryption software for DRM; could be landmark case for DVD copying.

DVD CCA v Kaleidescape, round 3
Julie Jacobson · November 30, 2011

Do Kaleidescape’s high-end media servers violate a licensing agreement with the DVD Copy Control Association (DVD CCA)?

After 7 years, the question is still up in the air but the two parties are back in court as of Nov. 14, 2011, this time to address the actual merits of the case for the first time.

“Things have been proceeding slowly, as they’re known to do,” Kaleidescape marketing director Tom Barnett tells CE Pro.

This could well be the definitive case for the two parties, which have met in court several times since 2004.

That’s when the DVD CCA, which licenses the Content Scramble System (CSS) for decrypting copyrighted material, sued Kaleidescape, alleging its movie servers violated the CSS licensing agreement. The DVD CCA maintains that the agreement makes absolutely no allowance for copying DVDs, even in the case of bit-for-bit copying that leaves DRM intact; Kaleidescape says its agreement with the DVD CCA says no such thing.

The earlier cases between the DVD CCA and Kaleidescape were largely procedural in nature, concerning whether or not a document called “General Specifications” was actually a part of the original licensing agreement. That document places additional restrictions on DVD CCA licensees including Kaleidescape.

UPDATED: DVD Ripping: The Latest on the Legal Front

Kaleidescape won the first bout in 2007, arguing successfully that the General Specifications were not part of the licensing agreement. In 2009, the DVD CCA got the courts to reverse that decision.

So now the two parties will debate for the first time whether or not Kaleidescape servers actually violate the CSS licensing terms including the General Specifications portion of the contract.

In the meantime, Kaleidescape is incorporating several DRM-protective measures into its new Blu-ray movie servers, but is not implementing such measures in its DVD products.

Kaleidescape’s Barnett told CE Pro earlier this year, “That is a path we considered – to just cave to the DVD CCA, but we think it’s a raw deal for the consumer.”

Consumers did get a raw deal when the DVD CCA and movie studios forced Real Networks to abandon its $30 RealDVD ripping software in March 2010.

In that case, which Kaleidescape says is not terribly relevant to its own, Real was sued by the studios for infringing on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Kaleidescape has not faced DMCA charges so far. (See: Understanding the Kaleidescape, RealDVD Cases)

Meanwhile, all of this DRM craziness has caused many vendors to drop their movie-server lines.

Still other DVD CCA licensees, like Request, are undeterred. When asked last year if he thought Request movie servers would be the next DVD CCA target, CEO Peter Cholnoky told CE Pro, “Nope. Should I be?”

REVISIT: Industry Insider: DVD CCA Is an Innovation-Stifling Cartel

And then there is a pack of vendors that figure the best way to avoid breach-of-contract lawsuits from the DVD CCA is simply not to do business with them in the first place.

One such vendor is Fusion Research. CEO Joseph Storm tells CE Pro, “We buy our [decryption] licenses per box” from an OEM provider.

He notes that the arrangement insulates Fusion from the DVD CCA.

Finally … the easiest way to escape the wrath of the DVD CCA? Just send your DVD-ripping software business overseas. Companies like SlySoft (AnyDVD) are doing just fine, thank you. (See: Would Studios Rather We Buy DVD Ripping Products Offshore?)

For a complete list of articles relating to DVD CCA v Kaleidescape, please see:
DVD Ripping: The Latest on the Legal Front

Here’s where it all started back in 2004:
Copy Protection Group Sues Kaleidescape
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.

Industry Insider: DVD CCA Is an Innovation-Stifling Cartel
Organization manages to coerce all manufacturers of DVD players to sign away their rights to innovation.

  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]

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  Article Topics

News · DRM · DVD CCA · Kaleidescape · Media Server · All Topics
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