Opening a major new front in the entertainment software industry's battle against piracy, leading video game companies today filed a lawsuit to block the trafficking and sale of software that cracks the copy protection systems used by game makers to protect their titles from illegal copying, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) announced today.
Three ESA members, Atari, Inc., Electronic Arts Inc., and Vivendi Universal Games, Inc., filed the lawsuit against 321 Studios in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, contending that 321 Studios' "Games X Copy" software is illegal because it violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by circumventing the technological protection measures used by entertainment software publishers to prevent game piracy.
"Masquerading as a consumer friendly tool, 321 Studios' software is, in truth, really nothing more than a device to facilitate the illegal copying of games," said Douglas Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association, the trade association that represents U.S. computer and video game publishers. "Federal law makes it clear that it is illegal to manufacture, distribute, or sell devices or programs that circumvent technological protection measures built into video games. That’s exactly what 321 Studios' Games X Copy does, and we fully expect the court to grant our request to ban this product."
Games X Copy is the latest in a series of 321 Studios products that violate the DMCA. Enacted in 1998, the DMCA prohibits the manufacture and distribution of products or services that circumvent technological protection measures designed to prevent unauthorized access to and copying of copyrighted materials. 321 Studios was recently enjoined by federal courts in three similar cases for illegally creating and distributing DVD-copying software.
"Game-copying software like Games X Copy, as well as other circumvention tools, cause entertainment software publishers irreparable harm," said Douglas Lowenstein. "The creation and distribution of video games involves tremendous investments of time, resources, and creativity, with a typical top video game costing an average of $5 to 10 million to create and market. Video game copyright owners stand to lose an enormous amount from the piracy enabled by products like Games X Copy."
The ESA is the U.S. association dedicated to serving the business and public affairs needs of the companies publishing interactive games for video game consoles, handheld devices, personal computers, and the Internet. ESA members collectively account for more than 90 percent of the $7 billion in entertainment software sales in the U.S. in 2003, and billions more in export sales of American-made entertainment software.