In a landmark ruling, a US judge has denied RealNetworks the rights to sell a DVD-copying technology called RealDVD.
The decision is a victory for Hollywood studio’s who will still have to wait on an appeal in the case.
The legal action was initiated against RealNetworks by the Hollywood studios, who claimed that the technology allowed consumers to violate copyrights on movies and TV shows.
Judge Marilyn Hall Patel granted the studios a preliminary injunction that stops RealNetworks from selling the software, pending a full trial on the issue. However, her injunction could be in place for some time, as the trial isn’t expected to begin for another year or two claims the Wall Street Journal.
Motion Picture Association of America Chairman and Chief Executive Dan Glickman called the decision a victory “for the rule of law in our digital economy.” Studios were concerned that the software could erode their DVD revenue by making it easier to make copies.
A RealNetworks statement issued after the verdict said “We are disappointed that a preliminary injunction has been placed on the sale of RealDVD. 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.”
In her 57-page ruling, Judge Patel wrote “While it may well be fair use for an individual consumer to store a backup copy of a personally-owned DVD on that individual’s computer, a federal law has nonetheless made it illegal to manufacture or traffic in a device or tool that permits a consumer to make such copies”.
Patel was the judge who shut down Napster in 2000 because of copyright violations. Here is her statement on RealDVD:
“RealDVD makes a permanent copy of copyrighted DVD content, and by doing so breaches its CSS License Agreement with the DVD Copy Control Association, the group that oversees the protection of DVDs for the major Hollywood studios and circumvents a technological measure that effectively controls access to or copying of the Studios’ copyrighted content on DVDs.
“Had Real’s products been manufactured differently, i.e., if what happened in Vegas really did stay in Vegas, this might have been a different case. But, it is what it is. Once the distributive nature of the copying process takes hold, like the spread of gossip after a weekend in Vegas, what’s done cannot be undone.”
RealNetworks is currently reviewing Patel’s decision and considering its next move.