In 2014 decryption licensing outfit AACS LA initiated a renewed crackdown on DRM-circumvention software.
The company, founded by a group of movie studios and technology partners, sued the makers of popular DVD and Blu-Ray ripping software DVDFab in a New York federal court.
After a brief legal battle the court ruled in favor of AACS, issuing an injunction based on the argument that the “DVDFab Group” violates the DMCA’s anti-circumvention clause, since their software can bypass DVD and Bluray encryption.
Among other things the injunction barred DVDFab from distributing its software in public and allowed AACS to seize a wide range of domain names and block the company’s social media accounts.
The crippling injunction seemed to work, but not for long. In a new court filing (pdf) AACS notes that the software vendor briefly blocked U.S. purchases but went back to business as usual soon after.
“Defendants are again offering DVDFab software that circumvents AACS Technology for purchase and download from the United States via their enjoined website at DVDFab.cn,” they write.
“Plaintiff has been able to purchase and download DVDFab Passkey for Bluray from the United States without issue, and without using a VPN or other means of masking a United States IP address,” AACS adds.
In addition, the software maker also launched an XBMC box called VidOn which also allows users to rip DVDs and Blurays.
According to AACS, the VidOn box uses the same DVDFab technology to rip Blu-Ray disks (via a PC).
“Plaintiff has tested the products and found that the VidOn software works in conjunction with DVDFab Passkey to circumvent AACS access and copy control technology and then extract or ‘rip’ the audiovisual content of Blu-ray discs for playback using the VidOn hardware.”
Similar to the DVDFab software, the VidOn box is widely available to the U.S. public and promoted there using various social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
According to AACS these clear violations of the permanent injunction should not go unpunished. The company therefore asks the court to award damages and to issue coercive contempt sanctions of $10,000 per day.
“Plaintiff requests the Court impose a coercive sanction of $10,000 per day on Defendants, continuing until Defendants come into compliance with the Amended PI Order,” AACS writes.
“This figure is reasonable and in line with amounts awarded in previous cases involving similar behavior, namely repeated, brazen violations of court orders and intellectual property protections,” they add.
In addition, the rightsholders want the permanent injunction to be updated so DVDFab is also barred from selling the new VidOn products and operating other related websites through which its ripping tools are offered.
It is not up to the court to decide whether sanctions and an amended injunction are appropriate. However, recent history has shown that it’s hard to permanently ban “ripping” software from the market.
In addition to DVDFab’s continued operation, AACS also failed to completely shut down its competitor AnyDVD. While the parent company SlySoft did shut down, the development was quickly taken over by RedFox, without any significant changes.