Slysoft owner Giancarla Bettini has been found criminally guilty of making available software to break video disc copy protection in an Antigua court. Bettini has to pay $30,000 in fines, or will face a six month jail stint for each of the six offences he has been found guilty on.
Slysoft produces several DVD and Blu-ray ripping products, which circumvents the copy protection schemes found on these discs to allow users to make unlimited copies of films. It has long been a thorn in the side of Hollywood, who in the past have pursued legal action against companies and individuals that produces or sells these kinds of software, with mixed results.
But whereas most of the previous cases takes place in the United States, this latest legal drama centers on the island of Antigua.
Antigua's dispute with the United States over online gambling services, and a WTO ruling which allowed the island to legally breach US owned copyright in order to recoup loses from the dispute, has given the island a reputation of being a friendly port when it comes to copyright claims. So this latest ruling in an Antigua & Barbuda court comes as a surprise, especially given that it was a criminal trial.
The criminal nature of the charges stems from a curious clause within Antigua's copyright laws, which does make anti-circumvention an illegal act that could carry penalties of fines and even imprisonment. It is under this clause that the AACS LA, the licensing authority responsible for managing the copy protection system used on almost all commercial Blu-ray films, sued Slysoft and its owner Giancarla Bettini.
Slysoft and Bettini's lawyers have appealed the verdict, and for now, it's business as usual for Slysoft.