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An out-of-state college student can be sued in California for running a Web site that allegedly allows users to pirate films on DVD in violation of state copyright law, California’s Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled Tuesday. In the latest battle over court jurisdiction in Internet cases, the justices concluded that under California’s long-arm statute, Matthew Pavlovich can be sued for trade secret theft and copyright infringement in California’s Santa Clara County. Justice Eugene Premo, writing for a unanimous court, said Pavlovich “knew, or should have known, that the DVD republishing and distribution activities he was illegally doing and allowing to be done through the use of his Web site, while benefiting him, were injuriously affecting the motion picture and computer industries in California.” Premo said, “The question is whether Pavlovich’s lack of physical and personal presence in California incapacitates California courts from jurisdictionally reaching him through its long-arm statute. We hold it does not.” Justices Patricia Bamattre-Manoukian and William Wunderlich concurred. Robin Gross, a staff attorney with the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation and one of Pavlovich’s lawyers, said the ruling violates the First Amendment. “Simply publishing is the equivalent of trying to assist pirates, according to this reasoning, and that is an incredible leap,” Gross said. Pavlovich allegedly used reverse engineering to develop a program that allows users to break the encryption developed by the DVD Copy Control Association, a not-for-profit group that licenses encryption services for DVD manufacturers. But Gross counters that such allegations have yet to be proven. “Anyone who wants to build a DVD player that will take business away from Hollywood can now be hauled into court in California for simply wanting to compete,” Gross said. Jared Bobrow, a partner with Weil, Gotshal & Manges representing the DVD Copy Control Association, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Pavlovich v. Superior Court (DVD Copy Control Assoc.), 01 C.D.O.S. 6781, filed in Santa Clara Superior Court, alleged Pavlovich misappropriated and repeatedly published trade secrets and other copyrighted material over the Internet. Pavlovich filed a motion to quash on grounds that the trial court in California lacked jurisdiction, since he was attending college in Indiana at the time and now lives in Texas. Santa Clara Judge William Elfving denied the motion to quash, and the Sixth District summarily denied Pavlovich’s writ petition. But in December, the California Supreme Court told the Sixth District to vacate its ruling and order the trial court to show cause why the petition shouldn’t be granted. On Tuesday, the Sixth District ruled that Pavlovich’s Internet activities subjected him to jurisdiction. “Instant access provided by the Internet is the functional equivalent of personal presence of the person posting the material on the Web at the place from which the posted material is accessed and appropriated,” Premo wrote. “It is as if the poster is instantaneously present in different places at the same time, and simultaneously delivering his material at those different places.”

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