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The California Supreme Court has weighed in on the controversial debate over court jurisdiction in Internet-related disputes. The suit, DVD Copy Control Association v. McLauhglin, 786804, also lists 70 Internet sites and 500 Does as defendants. Of the 21 named individuals, 18 are not residents of California. “Without this intervention by the Supreme Court you would have a situation where anyone communicating on the Internet — where they touched on an industry repudiated to exist in California — would be within the jurisdiction of California,” said Allonn Levy, an associate with San Jose’s HS Law Group. Levy is counsel to Pavlovich and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing the defendants in the overall suit. Jeffrey Kessler, a partner with New York’s Weil, Gotshal & Manges who represents DVD Copy Control Association, could not be reached for comment. In January, Santa Clara Superior Court Judge William Elfving granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting the defendants from posting the code. An appeal is pending. The scope of the suit may be sharply reduced if the California Supreme Court limits the jurisdiction of state courts to California residents. Levy said other defendants who live outside the state “would seem to have an argument” that they should be dropped from the suit. He said one other defendant has also petitioned for removal. The Association of Defense Counsel and the Computer Communications Industry Association filed separate amicus letters in support of Pavlovich’s petition. Separate from the jurisdictional question, the case has garnered close attention from the computer and Internet industries, content providers and Internet users. At stake is the extent to which current law protects the distribution of intellectual property over the Internet. The motion picture industry filed a similar suit in New York claiming that individuals posting the DVD decryption software constituted copyright infringement. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan granted a permanent injunction prohibiting defendants from posting the code or linking to Web sites that published it. The EFF expects to file an appeal by Jan. 19. But the recent ruling of the California Supreme Court is heartening to the EFF, which is involved in both the California and New York cases. “It’s a really good sign,” said EFF legal director Cindy Cohn. Noting that the jurisdictional question has been a hot topic for the last several years, she said the ruling “is one of the first indications from [the California Supreme Court] as to what they think of it.”

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