RealNetworks, MPAA in a cage match over RealDVD

On the same day, RealNetworks sued Hollywood studios and the DVD Copy Control Association, and the MPAA sued RealNetworks over the less-than-month-old RealDVD software that allows users to save copies of DVDs.

Using DVD Copy Control Association v. Kaleidescape Inc as a legal precedent, Real sued for a declaratory judgment for the protection of RealDVD. According to the company, the action was a response to threats made by major movie studio parents Disney, Viacom, Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, NBC Universal, and Warner Bros.

In Real's official statement of suit, the company likened the movie industry to the music industry in its myopic outlook on technology, saying it tries "to shut down advances in technology rather than embrace changes that provide consumers with more value and flexibility for their purchases."

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The case Real cites closed in July 2007, after nearly three years of litigation when the DVD Copy Control Association conceded that businesses could burn DVDs as long as the discs included CSS copy protection.

As was widely anticipated including by RealNetworks itself, the MPAA sued Real for selling a product which illegally bypasses copyright protection built into DVDs, complaining the software's principal function violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

The MPAA's associated statement was a bit more, shall we say, theatrical, calling the product "StealDVD," and saying, "We will vigorously defend our right to stop companies from bringing products to market that mislead consumers and clearly violate the law."

The MPAA's main concern is that users of the software will participate in what it calls "rent, rip, and return," where a user has the ability to amass a huge collection of movies without actually purchasing anything from the studio directly. The group therefore is asking for an injunction on the software and associated damages.

RealDVD rips DVD content into a proprietary format that is only viewable in Real's branded player, that can be ported to as many as five devices (external drives or PCs). Each saved DVD, according to Real's knowledge base, consumes about 9GB of space.

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