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Judge Rules Against RealDVD

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 40 comments

A federal judge has ruled in favor of the six major movie studios suing RealNetworks over its RealDVD software.

RealNetworks was faced with legal action for the software the same day it was launched, on September 30 last year. While the company said that it was just trying to come up with a legal way for users to back up their movies to their hard drives, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel yesterday declared the program violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the terms of the DVD CSS license because RealNetworks actively worked to circumvent the CSS license, which is there to prevent casual users from the unauthorized copying of copyrighted materials recorded on DVD-Video/Audio Discs.

Patel issued a preliminary injunction preventing RealNetworks from selling the RealDVD software. The preliminary injunction replaces a temporary injunction that has been in place ever since major studios (including Paramount, Sony, Universal Studios and Walt Disney) filed suit last September.

Patel last year extended the temporary injunction because she was unsure as to whether the technology was a violation or not. "I am extending the temporary restraining order because I’m not satisfied in the fact that this technology is not in violation," Patel said following the three-hour hearing. "There are serious questions about copyright violations. There are questions about violations of the (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), and violations of these companies’ agreement."

The ruling is unfortunate as it seems RealNetworks is genuine in its efforts to offer paying customers a way to watch movies they have paid for without the need for the DVD. That said, however genuine the company's efforts seem, RealNetworks did violate federal law. Who do you think is right in this instance? Let us know in the comments below.

Check out the full story here.

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  • 28 Hide
    CChick , August 12, 2009 5:08 PM
    CSS is a joke. it can be pwned with just a few lines of C++ rofl.

    Causal users? Hmm, you mean "dumb fuxking" users.

    Sorry but I crac ... err I mean every single Disc that I own I "removed" the Stupid ass CSS on it and burn it on another DVD so yeah I can watch it anywhere I want. Movie studios cant tell me what I can/can't watch on.
  • 27 Hide
    doc70 , August 12, 2009 4:58 PM
    looks to me like a lot of judges are in the same boat with the RIAA and Co. Lately we have not witnessed ONE single case where the ruling would be on the sensitive side; only extreme penalties and lopsidedness in sentencing. I am losing faith that the justice will ever see the truth as being in the middle, as it really is.
  • 23 Hide
    CChick , August 12, 2009 5:10 PM
    forgot to add, DMCA is full of bullshit and its nothing but a bitch ass law that gave movie studios tons of stupid rights anyway.
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    deredita , August 12, 2009 4:55 PM
    I bet you that Judge Marilyn Hall Patel doesn't even know how to use a computer, but used her legal authority anyways to decide on it.
  • 27 Hide
    doc70 , August 12, 2009 4:58 PM
    looks to me like a lot of judges are in the same boat with the RIAA and Co. Lately we have not witnessed ONE single case where the ruling would be on the sensitive side; only extreme penalties and lopsidedness in sentencing. I am losing faith that the justice will ever see the truth as being in the middle, as it really is.
  • 28 Hide
    CChick , August 12, 2009 5:08 PM
    CSS is a joke. it can be pwned with just a few lines of C++ rofl.

    Causal users? Hmm, you mean "dumb fuxking" users.

    Sorry but I crac ... err I mean every single Disc that I own I "removed" the Stupid ass CSS on it and burn it on another DVD so yeah I can watch it anywhere I want. Movie studios cant tell me what I can/can't watch on.
  • 23 Hide
    CChick , August 12, 2009 5:10 PM
    forgot to add, DMCA is full of bullshit and its nothing but a bitch ass law that gave movie studios tons of stupid rights anyway.
  • 0 Hide
    duckmanx88 , August 12, 2009 5:13 PM
    a better way to stop this instead of having a suit is including a digital copy with the dvd, which Disney does anyway in its special editions and some blu-ray copies. just make it a standard practice. a friend of mine works for Disney and they were practically throwing away free itunes redeemable codes for "Race To Witch Mountain".

  • 9 Hide
    jerther , August 12, 2009 5:13 PM
    Copyright laws, patents and all this legal stuff really suck.
  • 20 Hide
    megamanx00 , August 12, 2009 5:27 PM
    Yet another reason why the DMCA has to go and we really need patent and copyright reform here in the US.
  • -3 Hide
    dextermat , August 12, 2009 5:43 PM
    Lets play a game how much money did the
    Bias judge make over this case.
    1) Enough to pay his prostitute
    2) Enough to retire right away
    3) Enough to put back the world economy in business....

    I guess the answer is all of the above :o 
  • 2 Hide
    rooket , August 12, 2009 6:02 PM
    Well that's stupid since you can do a google search and quickly find numerous DVD backup and shrinking softwares for free. Why not let someone make their own product and sell it if they wish. The DeCSS is mearely a few lines of code anyway.
  • 11 Hide
    Anonymous , August 12, 2009 6:12 PM
    Wow, fatedtodie, troll much?

    RealDVD retains CSS and adds a second layer of security to make sure the DVD isn't pirated, but only used on the computer where the DVD was ripped. In other words, it's far harder to pirate using RealDVD than when using free products such as DeCSS. But hey, don't let that stop you claim they are trying to get part of the pirate "profits."

    They created what should be a legitimate use of DVDs: a non-transferable copy on your hard drive, so you don't have to get the disc out.

    But yeah, technically they violated DMCA. So do all free software DVD players. The law is f*cking dumb. Their software does nothing to increase piracy, just the opposite.

    -Dan

  • 7 Hide
    Honis , August 12, 2009 6:22 PM
    The problem here is not the judge, its the laws and lawmakers.

    Its illegal to produce and distribute any means of circumventing security like DRM.

    Its legal to make a backup copy of any software or movie you buy.

    DVDs and the such have DRM. So to exercise you legal right to make a copy of a DRMd DVD you need to break the law.

    A few of the comments on /. are very good at pointing this out and with sources *shock*.
    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/09/08/12/1220211/Judge-Rules-Against-RealDVD
  • 1 Hide
    bill gates is your daddy , August 12, 2009 6:22 PM
    And yet Kaleidescape lives on. Hypocrisy is alive and well in the American "legal" system. I wonder how many studio executives and judges have shares in Kaleidescape? That would be a interesting question to ask them.

    I think they should do the ultimate FU to all of the studios and "leak" the software to the world. If the courts are going to make it where they cannot make an honest dollar exactly like Kaleidescape (for them I should say something like 10,000 dollars) then cut your loss and shoot the finger.
  • -1 Hide
    dextermat , August 12, 2009 6:29 PM
    Still the judge accepted the ILLEGAL BRIBE
  • 8 Hide
    gimpy1 , August 12, 2009 6:33 PM
    I have read the actual 58 page opinion and the statute. The judge is correct in her ruling; it's the statute that is broken.

    Here is a read of the law as it pertains to an individual (at least my read from it. Yes, I am an attorney. No, you may not rely on this, the law in this area is too uncertain to be sure of anything).

    An individual who owns DVDs could otherwise copy the contents under fair use, assuming there was no copy protection. This is made clear by the proliferation of iPods and people being encouraged to rip their unprotected CD collections. I see no reason why video works would have more protection than audio works.

    1201(a) of the DMCA is clear that it is unlawful for anyone (except those listed in (1)(A)(B)) to circumvent access protection, or manufacture, traffic, etc. in a product that circumvents access protection. Access, however, is not copying (under the law); it is playing the DVD. See the opinion at page 38 lines 10-12 and 21-22.

    1201(b) prohibits manufacturing, importing, providing, making available to the public, or trafficking something that circumvents the copyright holder's rights, which includes copying. This is different from (a) in that the actual circumvention is not prohibited.

    What does this mean? It would seem to mean that an individual owner of a DVD could copy the disk by circumventing the protection. How? Well if you write your own software, you would be manufacturing, so that is out. If you buy software, then you are trafficking, so no go there. But if you downloaded something that is free (like DVD Shrink) from a domestic server (to avoid importing), then it would seem that you are not violating the law. This is supported by:

    "Since copying may be a fair use under appropriate circumstances,section 1201 does not prohibit the act of circumventing a technological measure that prevents copying." Page 38, line 20-22, quoting the US Copyright summary.

    "The fact that Congress elected to leave technologically unsophisticated persons who wish to make fair use of encrypted copyrighted works without the technical means of doing so is a matter for Congress." Page 39, line 24-26, quoting Reimerdes, an other case.

    This copy, however, would have to leave all the copyright protections intact, else you would be circumventing the access protections. This means you could not run an image file off your computer. Such an act would require unauthorized access. The image would have to be burned to a disc and accessed through an authorized player.

    The whole access vs. copying thing would also seem to apply to the analog hole, like if you play a DVD in a player, and then record the analog out. The player allows for lawful access, so no 1201(a) violation, and as discussed above, there is no violation for the actual circumvention of copy protection.

    Of course, I could be totally wrong.
  • 2 Hide
    Wayoffbase , August 12, 2009 6:47 PM
    If the movies studios had some intelligence and foresight, they would have developed the ripping software themselves, "buy our software to make legal backups of our products", then my might have a leg to stand on with third parties who publish ripping software.
  • 1 Hide
    Hanin33 , August 12, 2009 6:50 PM
    i agree that the law has been broken here and Real's attempt to ignore it was wrong, but i do also believe that CSS and the DCMA destroy all that was established by the Sony BetaMAX case for consumer rights. instead of the studios appealing or trying to update the limitations of consumer rights they simply constructed new laws. producers of content should be entitled to payment for first sales but after that their rights should end and any resale or manipulation (not for resale) of said copies by the consumer, should not be hampered. people that argue for over the top protections for 'content producers' so that they may be paid for every instance of playback, or copying (by a consumer for personal use) is insane. there should also be a far smaller window for these 'content producers' to be able to milk the system to get paid. anything over 10 years is ludicrous...

    we didn't always have these lame laws and artists and musicians did just fine. that they somehow now believe they need special laws is more of an indication of greed some people think is only limited to consumers...

  • 2 Hide
    bill gates is your daddy , August 12, 2009 6:56 PM
    I thought RealDVD did not try to circumvent the access protection. That is how Kaleidescape got around it (and supposedly tons of royalty fees to the studios.) I was under the belief that RealDVD left the CSS on the copied data from the DVD. Am I wrong in this? If RealDVD is not removing the copy protection, but retaining the CSS on the copy then what is the problem? That is exactly how Kaleidescape works and charges tens of thousands of dollars for their worthless products.
  • 0 Hide
    steiner666 , August 12, 2009 7:08 PM
    its trivial what the ruling on this particular software/company is. there's plenty of programs already that can clone dvds or back them up to hdds... so yeah, w/e and who cares.
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , August 12, 2009 7:19 PM
    The business models of the DVD/movie companies are short sighted. They recognize that modest talented computer users can find ways to overcome CSS protection. The balancing factor is that they need to make money for their product and they feel that allowing unlimited copying allows mass free distribution. The Milennium Act is designed to prevent the latter. Those are the givens.

    When the only solution is the patchwork quilt of various court decisions there is no real solution. More and more people learn to disrespect the unrealistic law by finding alternative copying modes. Lawyers stay busy while some people continue to copy disks while others increase their anger at the DVD/movie companies that exacerbate the situation.

    The DVD/movie companies need to develop a business model that accepts reality and encourages the public to support the industry, rather than disrespect it.

    I don't have a solution, so I am just hot air, but I do know that the more difficult and convoluted the system the less likely it will be a success. Perhaps the music industry model is an appropriate paradigm. In the mean time we just watch these skirmishes make bad law and waste money. What folly.

    JAF
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