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Wednesday, October 01, 2008
MPAA, RealNetworks Battle Over RealDVD

RealNetworks and Hollywood studios on Tuesday entered into a legal battle over RealDVD, a software that allows consumers to make computer copies of DVDs that the studios claim is illegal.

For $30, RealDVD, a software product from RealNetworks, allows users to create a copy of a DVD for their computer's internal or portable hard drive.

RealNetworks claims that RealDVD allows consumers to securely store, manage and play their DVDs on their computers.

"It does not enable users to distribute copies of their DVDs. RealDVD not only maintains the DVD's native CSS encryption intact, it also adds another layer of digital rights management encryption that effectively locks the DVD copy to the owner's computer to ensure that the content can not be improperly copied or shared. RealDVD provides consumers with a great solution for the playback and management of their DVD collections while adding security that is more robust than CSS," RealNetworks says.

But the Motion Picture Association of America, which represents Hollywood's major film and TV studios, disagreed and its member companies sued RealNetworks seeking a temporary restraining order to stop it from selling RealDVD software. MPAA claims that RealDVD "violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) because its software illegally bypasses the copyright protection built into DVDs that protect movies against theft."

"RealNetworks' RealDVD should be called StealDVD," said Greg Goeckner, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for the Motion Picture Association of America. "RealNetworks knows its product violates the law and undermines the hard-won trust that has been growing between America's movie makers and the technology community.. we will vigorously defend our right to stop companies from bringing products to market that mislead consumers and clearly violate the law."

Following the MPAA's lawsuit, RealNetworks today fired back with another one, this time against MPAA. The company issued the following statement:

"In response to threats made by the major movie studios, RealNetworks this morning plans to file an action for a declaratory judgment against DVD Copy Control Association, Inc., Disney Enterprises, Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp., Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., NBC Universal, Inc., Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., and Viacom, Inc., in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The lawsuit asks the court to rule that RealNetworks's RealDVD software, made available to consumers today at www.realdvd.com, fully complies with the DVD Copy Control Association's license agreement."

"We are disappointed that the movie industry is following in the footsteps of the music industry and trying to shut down advances in technology rather than embracing changes that provide consumers with more value and flexibility for their purchases."

Real has at least one precedent on its side: In 2005, the DVD CCA sued Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Kaleidescape, a company that sells a "movie jukebox" that also lets users copy DVDs without breaking encryption, albeit with a device that costs more than $14,000. In that case, the judge ruled Kaleidescape hadn't violated the DVD CCA license, even though one provision of the license specified a physical disc had to be present to legally play a film. The decision is under appeal (See http://www.kaleidescape.com/company/pr/PR-20070329-DVDCCA.php).

"Having lost the case once, the major studios are now trying to get a different result by going to a different court," RealNetwork said.

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