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Hollywood Wins Key Round Against RealNetworks' RealDVD

Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on August 11, 2009

Hollywood extended its nearly unbroken string of legal victories in defense of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act Tuesday when U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Patel issued a preliminary injunction (PDF, courtesy of The New York Times) against the sale of RealNetworks’ RealDVD.

RealDVD, a program that gave consumers a simple, and ostensibly legal, way to transfer the content of copy-protected DVDs to hard drives hit the market in September, 2008. Studios and the DVD Content Control Assn. immediately filed suit, claiming that RealDVD violated the “anti-circumvention” provisions of DMCA and quickly won a temporary restraining order against the program’s sale.

Judge Patel rejected Real's claim that the fact that it had obtained a license from the DVD CCA rendered RealDVD legal under DMCA and basically accepted virtually all of the studios' arguments.

The next legal step is unclear. Real could attempt to appeal the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Or the case might move forward to a trial on the studios' request for a permanent injunction and Real's counterclaim that the studios and DVD CCA acted in violation of antitrust laws. In a statement, Real said: "We have just received the Judge's detailed ruling and are reviewing it. After we have done so fully, we'll determine our course of action and will have more to say at that time."

The Motion Picture Assn. of America said: "“We are very pleased with the court’s decision. This is a victory for the creators and producers of motion pictures and television shows and for the rule of law in our digital economy. Judge Patel’s ruling affirms what we have known all along: RealNetworks took a license to build a DVD-player and instead made an illegal DVD-copier. Throughout the development of RealDVD, RealNetworks demonstrated that it was willing to break the law at the expense of those who create entertainment content."

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Reader Comments


August 12, 2009 01:23 AM

Typo in your title.

James Digel

August 12, 2009 01:27 AM

Dear Stephen Wildstrom from Business Week, you misspelled RealDVD in the title of the webpage. Thank you for listening, just wanted you to know.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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