321 Studios Closes

321 Studios has closed down after a series of court decisions that ruled that its key product, DVD X Copy, was illegal to distribute.

The software had been marketed as a tool that allowed consumers to exercise their legal right to make backups of legally purchased products. Whilst consumers do have this right, they must defeat the copy protection present on disks in order to do so. Defeating a copy protection system is illegal in a number of countries, including the US and Europe.

Since copy protection systems are seen to interfere with consumers’ fair-use rights, groups like the EFF believe that revisions to the law to make it fairer for customers are not far off.

321 Studios, based in St. Louis, had faced several court cases this year from industry leaders such as Vivendi Universal Games and Atari, and had even revised their product to remove the DVD descrambling component, CSS.

At the high of its business, 321 Studios employed nearly 400 staff and expect make US$200 million (€166 million) in sales in 2004.

The injunction only applies to 321 Studios – it is not illegal to own or even operate the software itself.

321 Studios

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?