Game companies sue over game-copying software

Atari, Electronic Arts, and Vivendi Universal Games have sued 321 Studios, the developer of a software utility that can be used to copy video games, for allegedly violating the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) said on Tuesday.

The three game companies, all members of the ESA, claimed that 321 Studios' Games X Copy software is illegal because it allegedly violates a DMCA provision that bans software that circumvents copy-protection technology used in game software, the ESA said in a statement. The suit against 321 Studios, which seeks a ban on the manufacture and distribution of Games X Copy, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, it said.

This is not the first time that 321 Studios has drawn a lawsuit over allegations that its software products violate the DMCA. The company is currently engaged in litigation with several movie studios over its DVD-copying software, DVD Copy Plus.

The ESA statement noted that 321 Studios has been enjoined by U.S. federal courts in three cases for manufacturing and distributing DVD-copying software. The industry group drew a parallel between those cases and the lawsuit over the Games X Copy software, calling them "similar."

Executives at 321 Studios could not immediately be reached for comment on the latest lawsuit.

321 Studios' Web site noted that the DMCA "does not expressly prohibit copying of digital works -- only the distribution and use of tools that circumvent copy prevention technologies."

In litigation with movie studios, 321 Studios' lawyers have argued that the DMCA provisions are unconstitutional and obstruct fair use rights.

"321 Studios and its products serve as the bridge between copyright laws and the general consumer's rights under the fair use doctrine," the company said on its Web site.

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Sumner Lemon

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