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It's All Over for RealDVD
March 3, 2010
Thomas Mennecke
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Flashback to 2008. RealNetworks created a DVD copying program called RealDVD that claimed legality by not defeating CSS copy protection. Instead, all the copy protection and DRM goodies are transferred onto the hard drive, barring the individual from exporting the image to P2P networks, blank DVDs, iPods, etc. According to RealNetworks:

"RealDVD makes it easy to save DVDs to a PC or portable hard drive and watch them later without the physical discs. Unlike existing consumer applications on the market today, RealDVD is licensed DVD software that saves a secure copy of a DVD to the hard drive without removing or altering the CSS encryption."

What seemed like a good idea wasn't so good with the MPAA. They sued RealNetworks in September of that year, and in August 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel granted an injunction against RealNetworks. This prevented the defendants from distributing the software, and perhaps a good way to compromise an otherwise lost cause.

Today, the both sides announced that they will settle their legal dispute. RealNetworks received the short end of the stick in the deal: they agreed to give up their appeal, and they have to pay the MPAA $4.5 million dollars in legal fees. In return, the MPAA gets to declare victory.

"We are gratified by the successful conclusion of this important matter," said Daniel Mandil, General Counsel & Chief Content Protection Officer for the MPAA. "Judge Patel's rulings and this settlement affirm what we have said from the very start of this litigation: It is illegal to bypass the copyright protections built into DVDs designed to protect movies against theft. We will continue to vigorously pursue companies that attempt to bring these illegal circumvention products and devices to market."

Patel's court is a rough place if your name is on the wrong end of the entertainment industry. Many may remember Judge Patel during the Napster trial - which didn't end well for them either. RealNetworks walked into the butcher's den, but their product was innovative. Today was a defeat for the furtherance of fair use rights.

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