Stripping 4K Content Protection is Fair Use, Court Hears

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LegendSky, a hardware manufacturer that creates devices enabling consumers to bypass 4K copy protection, has informed a New York federal court that they're not breaking any laws. The company is being sued by Warner Bros. and Intel daughter company Digital Content Protection, who want to shut down their sales.

4kLate last year several pirated copies of 4K videos started to leak from both Netflix and Amazon. These leaks were unusual as online 4k streams were always well protected against pirates.

While it’s still not clear how these videos were copied, a new lawsuit from Warner Bros. and Intel daughter company Digital Content Protection (DCP) suggests that HDFury devices may be involved.

In January the companies filed a lawsuit at a federal court in New York against the maker of the devices, technology company LegendSky, accusing it of violating the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions.

The HDFury devices in question allow users to strip the latest HDCP encryption. This hardware sits between an HDCP-compliant source and a secondary device, allowing it to pass on a “stripped” 4K signal.

This week the Chinese company responded to the allegations (pdf), asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit on the basis that DCP’s claims are ungrounded.

Among other things, the company argues that Warner Bros. and Intel will not be able to prove direct or contributory copyright infringement. Instead, they accuse DCP of copyright abuse to keep its monopoly intact.

“Plaintiffs’ claims are barred […] because of copyright abuse. Plaintiffs’ action against Defendant is an intentionally unlawful attempt to extend the scope of Plaintiffs’ copyright monopolies beyond their legal scope,” LegendSky writes.

The hardware manufacturer states that its products do not violate the DMCA. Instead, they point out that this type of circumvention is specifically permitted as a fair use exception, in order to connect two separate computer programs.

“Plaintiffs’ claims are barred by the doctrine of fair use,” the rebuttal reads.

“In particular, to the extent that Defendants’ products circumvent within the meaning of the DMCA, such circumvention is lawful because it enables interoperability between independently created computer programs with other programs.”

LegendSky further argues that DCP doesn’t have jurisdiction over the Chinese company and in its reply requests that the New York District Court dismisses the complaint.

It’s expected that the content protection outfit will counter LegendSky’s arguments during the weeks to come, as it’s essential for Warner Bros. that 4K copy protection remains strong.

The movie studio previously announced that it will release several dozen 4K Blu-ray movies this year and would rather not see these end up on pirate sites in the best quality possible.


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