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US studios sue Samsung Electronics

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MUMBAI: Seoul-based high-tech company Samsung Electronics is facing legal action from the big five US movie studios which claims one of its DVD players can be used to avoid encryption technology.

Reports suggest that Disney, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, Time Warner and Universal Studios are pursuing the company for being "hacker-friendly," as the company has developed products that allow savvy users to bypass the limitations imposed by content owners.

While neither the studios nor Samsung have revealed the contents of the suit, Samsung has admitted that they believe that their DVD-HD841 DVD player is at the center of all of this.

The spokesman from Samsung guessed that the film makers may have an issue with DVD-HD841, which Samsung sold in the United States between June and October 2004. He added, "If so, I do not know why the movie studios are complaining about the products, of which production was brought to an end more than 15 months ago. We stopped manufacturing the model after concerns erupted that its copy-protection features can be circumvented by sophisticated users."

Aimed at budget-conscious consumers looking for an upscaling DVD player, the DVD-HD841 failed to deliver, and Samsung pulled it from the market. Though, the units can still be purchased on many sites catering to used electronics, but new units have been missing from retail shelves for about a year.

The spokesman said Samsung would react to the lawsuit after the outfit recognizes its real intention.

According to reports, the studios claimed that Samsung's DVD players allowed consumers to avoid encryption features that prevent unauthorized duplication and demanded a recall of all the problematic products. The DVD-HD841 DVD-player can allow region encoding and high-bandwidth digital-content protection (HDCP) bypassing, provided a code is entered by remote control. Although pulled off shelves, its genes appear to have been transmitted to the DVD-HD747 and DVD-HD941.

The Motion Picture Association of America estimates that the movie industry lost $5.4 billion last year due to piracy.

The studios know that there is going to be a significant spike in demand for next-generation players that can bypass HDCP over the next few years. As the studios hope to see a flawless introduction of their new digital rights management schemes, they want to make it clear to all consumer electronics companies that they do not want to see their plans foiled by companies catering to those of us who want to bypass the content industry's protections.

Samsung Electronics is the flagship affiliate of Samsung Group, Seoul's foremost conglomerate. It is the world's biggest maker of memory chips and flat-panel displays.

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