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MPAA Contemplates Legal Action against Apex
DVD Player at Apex of Controversy 
by Andy Patrizio

Hidden features included in a DVD player released in January have the Motion Picture Association of America contemplating legal action. 
Thanks to Nerdout.com, both users and the MPAA are aware that the Apex AD-600A player's DVD copyright protection scheme and regional encoding features can be overridden. 


The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) -- which has sued MP3.com over its service for converting CDs into MP3 files -- was unaware of the Apex player and its capabilities and declined to comment. 

Apex's maker said the ability to remove regional encoding and CSS protection were included but were intended only for developers. End users were not supposed to be able to access that menu or those features. 

"Twenty-four manufacturers use the same menu chip as in ours, so they all have the same capability," said Colton Manley, a spokesman for Apex, in Ontario, California. "Certainly our intention is not to sell anything that will cause any problems." 

But users are reacting positively. 

"I have no complaints! It's been running like a charm. It really is worth the purchase, you get a lot of bang for your buck," said one person on the alt.video.dvd newsgroup. 

"So far I'm impressed with it. It produces a great picture, and combined with the ability to turn off region locks and macrovision, it's a real winner!" said another newsgroup posting. 

Still, Apex officials said the next version of the Apex DVD player will have the hidden menu disabled. 

The company is also planning to release three new DVD players as well as a car player with the same features as the AD-600A. The MD-100 will fit in a car radio slot and feature DVD, CD, and MP3 playback plus standard AM and FM playback. 

Apex expects its biggest potential market will be people who drive SUVs, where manufacturers have been installing television sets in the back seat. The MD-100 will be available next month for $499. The company is still working on getting it into retail outlets.



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