Hollywood group drops DVD-copying case

A high-tech group associated with Hollywood has dropped a long-running lawsuit against a California programmer accused of publishing DVD-cracking code online, attorneys for both sides said Thursday.

The DVD Copy Control Association has asked California courts to dismiss its case against programmer Andrew Bunner. The group sued Bunner and a handful of other Web publishers four years ago, alleging that the act of posting code called DeCSS, short for Decryption of Content Scrambling System, which can help in the process of decoding and copying DVDs, violated its trade secret rights. The trade group's decision marks the close of the last prominent legal battle over the DeCSS code. Despite the DVD CCA's move, earlier cases have left it illegal under federal law to distribute the code online in the United States.

Nevertheless, Bunner's attorneys called the unexpected decision to drop its case a victory for free speech. "I think that they are sick of losing," said Allonn Levy, one of several attorneys who had worked on the case on Bunner's behalf. "I think they have finally reached the conclusion that it is not a fight that they can win." Attorneys for the DVD CCA could not immediately be reached. In a statement, they said the group was "evolving" its legal strategies based on other court decisions and that the California state trade secrets case was no longer necessary. "The trade secrets case, together with (other) litigation, set important precedents and sent important messages," Robert Sugarman, the DVD CCA's lead attorney and a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, said in the statement. "The owners of trade secrets will not stand by and allow their property to be misappropriated without action, and the rulings of the courts have shown protection of intellectual property is an important priority for the legal system."

News source: C|Net News.com

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