Friday, December 13, 2002

Texan Can't Be Sued in California for Releasing DVD Decryption Software on the Web

December 13, 2002

In This Newsletter:

Mark Litwak to Speak at HarvardOn Sunday, December 22 at 2PM, Mark Litwak will give a one-hour lecture on "Self-defense for Filmmakers" at Harvard University.

This free seminar is open to the public and will be held in the Graduate Student Lounge, 2nd Floor, Lehman Hall. Anyone planning to attend should RSVP to Valerie Weiss at You must arrive on time as the entrance doors will be locked at 2PM.

For more information, please visit the Dudley Film Program website at

"Levity" to Open 2003 Sundance Film Festival
Congratulations to our client Echo Lake Productions. Their film, LEVITY, has been selected to screen as the opening night film at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. The directorial debut of screenwriter Ed Solomon (MEN IN BLACK), the film will be distributed in the U.S. by Columbia TriStar and internationally by Canal+. The film stars Billy Bob Thornton, Morgan Freeman, Holly Hunter, and Kirsten Dunst.
For more information about Levity, visit Echo Lake Productions' website at

Texan Can't Be Sued in California for Releasing DVD Decryption Software on the Web

In a ruling that has the DVD industry worried, California's Supreme Court has decided that the state has no jurisdiction in a trade secret infringement lawsuit involving the Web-based LiViD video project and California's DVD Copy Control Association.
The DVD Copy Control Association alleged that LiVid's founder, Matthew Pavlovich, infringed its trade secrets in posting code on the Internet that could unscramble its encryption software. Furthermore, the Association argued that the movie industry, with so many companies based in California, would suffer if DVDs could be illegally copied at leisure. The case should therefore be adjudicated in California.

In a 4-3 decision, the California high court said that it had no personal jurisdiction over Pavlovich, who lives and works in Texas and was a student in Indiana when he first posted the decryption code, known as DeCSS.

The majority stated that Pavlovich had no apparent California contacts. Furthermore, that although his software was posted on the Web, his site "merely posts information and has no interactive features." There was nothing on the Website to show there was any intent, express or implied, to directly target California and its DVD and movie industries. As Pavlovich did not have sufficient "minimum contacts" in the state and had no intent to impact state business, he could not be sued in California

The majority expressed concern that if Websites like Pavlovich's, which contained nothing more than information and no interactive features, could be the basis for jurisdiction, then "mere use of the Internet would subject the user to personal jurisdiction in any forum where the site was accessible."

The dissenters in the case argued that though Pavlovich had never established a residence or business address in California, the code he posted on the Internet could be used by anyone in every state, including California.

In addition, the dissenters stated that Pavlovich knew or should have known that posting DeCSS to his Website would harm the DVD and movie industries, and he knew or should have known that these industries are primarily based in California. Therefore, Pavlovich did target California's DVD and movie industries.
It is expected that the case will be brought for consideration before the U.S. Supreme Court.