RealDVD Injunction Stands For Now

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U.S. District Judge Marilyn Patel has ruled that a court injunction barring the sale of RealNetworksRealDVD DVD-copying software will stand for at least another month until she has an opportunity to ramp up on the details of the licensing arrangement, how the software functions, and copyright issues involved in the case.

Judge Patel indicated after the hearing that the case raises serious issues of licensing and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and she wasn’t satisfied at first hearing that RealDVD was not in violation. As such, she is letting the current injunction blocking the sale of RealDVD stand, and indicated she is next available for a hearing on November 17.

A judge blocked sales of RealDVD last week following a suit brought by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) against RealNetworks that alleges RealDVD violates RealNetworks’ license to the Content Scramble System (CSS) used to protect DVDs from casual piracy; RealNetworks had preemptively sued the MPAA itself just prior to RealDVD’s launch for threats against RealNetworks.

In the hearing before Judge Patel, RealNetworks argued that RealDVD enables users to copy a DVD and store it on their local hard drive, but does so without compromising any of the copy protection technology on a DVD. RealNetworks argued there isn’t anything in its license agreement that prohibits what RealDVD does, and nothing that requires a physical DVD disc to be present in order to enable playback.

The MPAA disagreed with RealNetworks assertions, arguing that RealDVD’s function are outside those authorized by RealNetworks’ contract with the MPAA, and that the program effectively enables users to make copies of movies they don’t own. The MPAA has previously characterized this scenario as “rent, rip, and return,” saying customers will user services like BlockBuster and Netflix to rent DVD, then make their own personal copies while returning the originals.

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