Hollywood's eight movie studios won a significant court battle at the end of last week in its effort to protect DVDs from being copied onto computers.

The studios via their advocate organisation The Motion Picture Association Of America (MPAA) successfully sued website publisher Eric Corley who had made available online software which descrambled the code which prevents DVDs from being copied. That software, developed by hackers, enables computer users to copy feature films from DVDs onto their hard drives.

The New York judge in the case also issued a decree that the posting of that computer code (known as DeCSS) violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Lawyers for Corley had argued that computer code is a free expression of speech entitled to maximum constitutional protection.

"Today's landmark decision nailed down an indispensable Constitutional and Congressional truth: It's wrong to help others steal creative works," said MPAA chairman and CEO Jack Valenti. "The court's ruling is a victory for consumers and for legitimate technology."

Corley is editor and publisher of the website 2600.com and print publication 2600: The Hacker Quarterly. In January, 2600.com had been issued with a preliminary injunction forcing it to remove the DeCSS code from his website.