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August 24, 2004
A Different Kind of Hollywood Contract
...has evidently been broken by two companies that make and sell DVD chips to companies that make products that (take a breath) have features that fail to hew to Hollywood's standards for copy "protection." So the MPAA is suing.
As John Borland points out, the suits have nothing to do with copyright law. To avoid the kind of lawsuits that destroy companies like 321 Studios, the chipmakers essentially 1.) asked Hollywood for permission to make the chips, 2.) agreed to make them in the Hollywood-approved way, and 3.) signed on the dotted line. It's a lot cleaner than squabbling over messy, intractable stuff like arguments for "personal" or "fair use" of digital media.
Later: Wendy Seltzer weighs in @ Legal Tags: "DVD-player manufacturers are in a Catch-22: Don't sign the DVDCCA's restrictive contract, and you're sued under DMCA; sign, and you're contractually bound not to listen to customers' feature requests. Don't let anyone tell you these cartels aren't clever (PDF)."
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