Francesco Potorti` pot a softwarelibero.it
Ven 16 Maggio 2003 10:14:04 CEST

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Ilston in San Francisco will be overseeing 
a case that analysts say will have important ramifications not only for 
software developers and the movie industry, but also for consumers who want 
to make back-ups of the DVDs they buy. Seven major movie studios have filed 
suit against software startup 321 Studios, seeking to prohibit it from 
shipping its DVD X-Copy and DVD Copy Plus software programs. The lawsuit 
invokes the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act's "anti-circumvention" 
provision, which bans the sale of products that can "get around" copyright 
protection measures. Legal experts say this case is of particular interest 
because Judge Ilston is being asked to clarify whether the law prevents all 
circumvention, or whether there are cases in which circumvention is legal. 
"That's a big open issue that this will help define," says an intellectual 
property lawyer, who adds, "This is one of the first tough cases" to 
address this issue. Courts in the past have allowed copyright exemptions 
for personal use, such as using a VCR to record a TV show for later 
viewing, but up until now those exemptions have not extended to digital 
media. "The court is going to have to come up with a new, nuanced 
interpretation of the statute," says 321 attorney Daralyn Durie. "What's at 
stake here is the ability to engage in fair use in a digital environment." 
(CNet News.com 14 May 2003)

The SCO Group, which acquired control of Unix intellectual property from 
Novell after it bought the rights from AT&T back in 1992, has sent letters 
to Linux customers warning that commercial users may face legal liability 
for using Linux with a license from SCO. If SCO's tactic is successful, it 
could undermine one of the basic tenets of the open software movement, of 
which Linux has been the most successful example. Linux is a Unix 
derivative first developed in the 1990s, and has won a loyal following 
because of its low cost, reliability and ability to run on inexpensive 
computer hardware. Linux developer Linus Torvalds says he has not heard 
what parts of Linux might be infringing: "I'd dearly love to hear exactly 
*what* they think is infringing, but they haven't told anybody. Oh well. 
They seem to be more interested in FUD [fear, uncertainty and doubt] than 
anything else." The latest move follows a $1-billion lawsuit filed by SCO 
in March against IBM, alleging IBM took parts of the Unix code and 
transferred them to Linux. IBM dismissed the lawsuit as unfounded. (AP 14 
May 2003)

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