MPAA, Real Networks Sue Over Real DVD

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RealNetworksRealDVD DVD-copying software is officially on sale, and its debut has been marked by a salvo of lawsuits: RealNetworks has sued the MPAA over “threats” made against it by the major movie studios, and the MPAA has sued RealNetworks (PDF) alleging RealDVD violates the Digital Millenium Copyright Act by bypassing copy protection built into DVDs.

“RealNetworks’ RealDVD should be called StealDVD,” said MPAA general counsel and executive VP Greg Goeckner, in a statement. “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.”

The MPAA lawsuit alleges that RealDVD enables a “rent, ripe, and return” model whereby custoemrs can rent or borrow a physical movie DVD, makes a copy with RealDVD, and then returns the original, enabling users to bypass the long-ago-cracked Content Scramble System (CSS) built into DVDs. The MPAA is seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent RealNetworks from selling RealDVD. The MPAA also claims RealDVD violates RealNetworks’ license to use CSS.

For its part, RealNetworks maintains that RealDVD does not enable users to distribute copies of their DVDs, but enables them to make fair-use copies for their own personal use—and it’s suing the studios to make sure those rights are protected. “RealNetworks took this legal action to protect consumers’ ability to exercise their fair-use rights for their purchased DVDs,” the company said in a statement.

RealNetworks points to a court decision last year in favor of Kaleidescape, which found that Kaleidescape was, in fact, in compliance with CSS licensing when it created a system that enables users to make a personal copy of DVDs for use on a home media server…although the narrow loophole existed mainly due poor wording in the complex CSS specification.

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