Atari, EA, and VU sue game-copy software maker

Creators of Games X Copy are slammed with a federal lawsuit from a triumvirate of publishing giants.

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Three leading game publishers this week banded together in an attempt to halt the sale of a software application designed to enable game owners to easily make backup copies of their PC games.

Games X Copy, sold by Missouri-based 321 Studios, is the focus of a federal lawsuit filed in New York State by Atari, Electronic Arts, and VU Games. The companies allege that 321's Games X Copy software violates copyright laws by illegally enabling users to circumvent copy-protection programs. 321's Web site boasts that the Games X Copy software "lets you make a PERFECT backup copy of virtually any PC Game."

321 Studios also states that the company "supports Hollywood's creative artists and opposes piracy of any kind." To that end, it provides a public disclaimer electronically embedded in the backup copy of the DVD; an electronic watermark that can trace piracy back to the point of purchase; and an embedded code that prevents making a copy of a copy.

But the Entertainment Software Association, the trade organization that represents the interests of the game publishing industry, differs in opinion. ESA president Doug Lowenstein told the Associated Press that "video game copyright owners stand to lose an enormous amount from the piracy enabled by products like Games X Copy." He calls the $59 application a piracy-enabling piece of software "masquerading as a consumer-friendly tool."

In additional comments to the AP, Lowenstein said the lawsuit is seeking a court order halting further production and sale of the software. "What's at stake here is a rather important legal principle--that products with no purpose other than to circumvent copyright protection are illegal."

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