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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 February, 2004, 09:36 GMT
Software makes game copying easy
By Alfred Hermida
BBC News Online technology editor

Selection of discs
321 Studios is accused of aiding illegal copying of DVDs
A company whose DVD-copying software has angered the film studios could have just made a foe of the games industry.

321 Studios has released a new program which makes it easy to copy PC games to a hard drive or recordable CD or DVD

The firm says Games X Copy is designed to stop parents worrying about their children scratching or damaging a disc.

It is already fighting off a handful of lawsuits from movie studios and other software makers who argue that the DVD programs aid movie piracy.

'Great sales'

321 Studios, based in St Louis, Missouri, is hoping that Games X Copy will not spark off the controversy that has surrounded its DVD-copying software.

"This product has been put together to back up PC games," said 321 President Robert Moore of Games X Copy.

"There is already a long-standing copyright law that gives people the right to make back up copies of their software for archival purposes," he told BBC News Online.

The program went on sale in the US last week for $60 and the company says sales have so far been "great".

The Windows software allows gamers to easily create an exact image of a PC game and back it up onto a hard drive or recordable CD or DVD.

Court battles

321's DVD-copying software similarly let people make back-ups by getting around copy protection on discs.

Robert Moore
There are some old ideas that the entertainment industry has about how to protect their intellectual property
Robert Moore, 321 Studios
Mr Moore strongly denied that this was encouraging piracy.

"Obviously there are people who think that," he said, "but we think you are well within your rights to use your property the way that you see fit.

"The problem is that the movies are being distributed in such a way that people are intercepting them and putting them on the internet.

"That's where the DVD piracy is coming from," he said.

This has not deterred the Hollywood studios from going to the US courts. They argue that the software is illegal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which prohibits the distribution of software or devices intended to circumvent copyright protections.

The latest was filed on Friday by a film industry group that oversees copy protection technology of film DVDs. The DVD Copy Control Association claims the 321 software infringes its patents.

321 Studios is also facing legal action in the UK, where it is being pursued by the Motion Picture Association, which represents the interests of the US film industry internationally.

"There are some old ideas that the entertainment industry has about how to protect their intellectual property," said Mr Moore.

"Because technology evolves so rapidly and changes so quickly, it scares the businessmen of old and their natural instinct is to hold back.

"That is the wrong approach. The only way to survive in this moving and evolving world is to grow and evolve with it."

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