MPAA wins suit against Chinese DVD player manufacturer

November 1, 2008

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has won a breach of contract lawsuit against Gowell, a Chinese company that manufactured DVD players that ignore the copyright protection scheme encoded on the DVDs.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has won a breach of contract lawsuit against Gowell, and the court has ruled that the Chinese manufacturer may no longer manufacture or sell the devices. It is unclear just how much of an effect a ruling made by the California Court will have on a Chinese manufacturer, at least immediately.

The court injunction prohibits Gowell Electronics from manufacturing and distributing any device that violates the the terms of the Content Scramble System (CSS). CSS is the system used by MPAA members to keep users from copying DVD movies, or at least keep them from playing the copied DVDs once they are made. As currently being built, the Gowell DVD players are apparently in violation of the terms of the Content Scramble System Agreement.

The ruling will have no effect, of course, on Gowell DVD players which have already been manufactured and sold, so the current owners of the players may continue to use them, at least under the terms of the current ruling. However, if the DVD manufacturer complies with the terms of the injunction, current owners would not be able to replace the devices once they wear out or break.

Please note that the disks themselves, after they are copied, still contain the Content Scramble System software which make them unusable in CSS-legal DVD players. It is the Gowell player itself which makes it possible to play the still-protected disks by ignoring the CSS software’s commands. Without the Gowell DVD players, or others like them, the copied disks are useless except as coasters.

And so the copy-protection battles continue, with the MPAA doing its best to stymie the users, coders, and manufacturers that want to freely use copyrighted material. No matter what side of this issue you are on, and there are many, the war continues to be entertaining, and to push the limits of both encryption and decryption technology.

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