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MPAA Kills RealDVD for Good: The End of DVD Copying?

Instead of appealing a decision that deemed its DVD-copying software illegal, Real Networks caved to the studios and will pay $4.5 million


Real Networks (RNWK) caved to the studios yesterday.

Instead of appealing a decision that deemed its $30 RealDVD ripping software illegal, the company is paying the studios $4.5 million as reimbursement for legal fees.

Under the auspices of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the studios sued Real in September 2008, claiming violations under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The company also was sued for a breach of contract with the DVD CCA (Copy Control Association), which licenses the Content Scramble System (CSS) decryption software.

An injunction was imposedand never lifted -- on sales of RealDVD.

In August 2009, the MPAA prevailed in its case against Real, which promised to appeal the decision.

Yesterday, Real gave up.

In addition to coughing up $4.5 million, Real agreed to abandon its claims against the studios and shut off metadata to the 2,700 users who managed to buy the software before the injunction was ordered.

After yesterday’s decision, MPAA general counsel Daniel Mandil said that the court’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.”

He added, “We will continue to vigorously pursue companies that attempt to bring these illegal circumvention products and devices to market.”

Death Knell for DVD Copying?


CE pros are probably asking: What does this mean for Kaleidescape?

Kaleidescape was sued in 2004, not for violations under the DMCA but for breach of contract with the DVD CCA.

The DVD CCA maintains that its licensing agreement prohibits the sale of products that enable users to copy DVDs – even if the copies are bit-for-bit, with CSS intact.

Kaleidescape servers – with their five-digit price tags -- perform such bit-for-bit copying, which is one reason the company has always maintained that it complies with the DVD CCA licensing agreement and the DMCA.






DVD Ripping: The Whole Picture
 
Kaleidescape vs. DVD CCA: Judge Rules Against Movie Servers
Tentative ruling in landmark DVD-copying case says Kaleidescape knew its movie servers might be in violation of DVD CCA licensing agreement that prohibits copying of DVDs.
DVD Ripping: The Latest on the Legal Front
This compilation of articles on the legality of DVD ripping, and related fair-use cases, will be updated continuously.
Understanding the Kaleidescape, RealDVD Cases
What have the courts really decided on DVD copying, and what are the implications for the future? We debunk the myths about the the two lawsuits and clarify the current legal state of DVD ripping.
Is DVD 'Ripping' the Same as 'Archiving?'
Is the term "ripping" generally understood as the "illegal" form of copying a disk? Likewise, is "archiving" known as the bit-for-bit "legal" way of doing it?
Can You Be Sued for Helping Clients Rip DVDs?
EFF attorney Fred von Lohmann explains some of the legal issues involved in selling and installing products that enable users to copy DVDs.
Is Your DVD Server Legal? Manufacturers Say Yes!
Developers of movie-ripping products insist their products are legal. Here's how the manufacturers justify their solutions.
Copy Protection Group Sues Kaleidescape (2005)
Kaleidescape has a license from the DVD CCA to employ CSS decoding in its media servers, which it does. Now, DVD CCA is suing Kaleidescape for breach of contract.
Would Studios Rather We Buy DVD Ripping Products Offshore?
As studios work to quash legitimate products like RealDVD, offshore providers of DVD ripping software -- like AnyDVD developer SlySoft -- are reaping the rewards.
Industry Insider: DVD CCA Is an Innovation-Stifling Cartel (2005)
The DVD Copyright Control Association (DVD CCA) is a bunch of bullies. The organization manages to coerce all manufacturers of DVD players to sign away their rights to innovation.
 



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Article Topics

News · Product News · Video · Digital Media · Media Servers · Legal · Kaleidescape · Legal · Dvd Ripping · Realdvd · Dvd Cca · Eff · Dmca · Real Networks · Rnwk · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.

23 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by David  on  03/04  at  05:48 AM

This does not look good for even those manufacturers you mentioned along with Niveus, S1Digital, the “new” Mozaex, etc.  All of these media server companies though saying they do not induce, really do wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  03/04  at  05:58 AM

David, I can see it now: MPAA suing every manufacturer that provides metadata and aggregation/management software for movies. Inducement, indeed!

Posted by Greg  on  03/04  at  07:54 AM

And after all these companies have exhausted the legal means to continue to provide a needed product/service, they will all succumb to the MPAA’s gestapo and enter into bankruptcy and failure, a popular business model in todays time.

THEN, if by sudden alignment of the planets, the MPAA will decide that this is a great source of revenue, and come out with their own “legal” hardware, software based “ripping” solution, which they will gladly sell at 5 X the market price (sound familair to retail CD/DVD costs??)

Corporate Greed will be the end of this country.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  03/04  at  07:59 AM

Greg ... not so far-fetched. In fact, Kaleiscape and I have argued that the reason DVD CCA sued them in the first place is because their own power board (whose names they don’t reveal!) haven’t come out with their own DVD servers.

There have been antitrust allegations by both Kscape and Real.

See: DVD Ripping: The Latest on the Legal Front

DVD CCA Is an Innovation-Stifling Cartel

Posted by Mark  on  03/04  at  08:40 AM

Real and KScape are unrelated. Real broke copy protection scheme, KScape did not.

Not even the same issue. KScape and the MPAA are back in court over a contract dispute. Their server leaves the CSS intact.

The savvy end user doesn’t really have anything to worry about.

Posted by Eyal Kattan  on  03/04  at  11:16 AM

I think an interesting fact that seem to be overlooked in many discussions is that there are two laws that are actually contradicting each other:

On one hand, there is the Fair Use Act which clearly allows the legal holder of protected content to make a copy for personal use such as archiving. This makes completely sense because of a very simple fact – If my DVD get scratched, I cannot play it, replace it or do anything with it unless I buy a new one. I should be able to make a copy legally as long as I do not re-distribute this copy anywhere outside my home.

On the other hand, there is the Digital Millennium Act which prohibit the circumvention of DRM for any purpose which doesn’t really work as pirates doesn’t really obey it.

You may argue that one law precede the other, however I think (I may be wrong tough) this argument was never challenged in a supreme court and probably should.

It is one thing to protect the content against theft or illegal distribution. And it’s a whole different thing when you just prohibit any type of copying, with no distinction whatsoever. So far, DRM has not proven to stop or even reduce the piracy of protected content. On the contrary, the more restrictions the studios implement, the more wide spread piracy is becoming.

At the end of the day, the studios have every right to go after content pirates but they should leave the innocent paying consumers alone. Obviously they need to step into the 21st century with more creative business models for generating revenue rather than sticking to old useless methods of pathetic attempt to protect their content.
In the case of REAL for example, they could negotiate a fee for each copy sold. Going to the next level, they could even negotiate stamping each copy made with a unique id that would help them to identify the illegal copy, if one was made and distributed elsewhere.

Sad day to all of us…

Posted by Mike  on  03/04  at  11:33 AM

How is this the “End Of DVD Copying”??

Seriously guys, a little dramatic?

And who would buy dvd ripping software when there are so many out there for free?

DVDDecryptor, hello??

They will never stop the copying of protected media.. NEVER.. they can stop companies from selling them, but there are too many people who want media their way and play it how they see fit, so will do whatever is necessary to accomplish that

BluRays have been copied for how long now?

Posted by mogamer  on  03/04  at  11:44 AM

“Posted by Mike on 03/04 at 11:33 AM
How is this the “End Of DVD Copying”??

Seriously guys, a little dramatic?

And who would buy dvd ripping software when there are so many out there for free?

DVDDecryptor, hello??

They will never stop the copying of protected media.. NEVER.. they can stop companies from selling them, but there are too many people who want media their way and play it how they see fit, so will do whatever is necessary to accomplish that

BluRays have been copied for how long now?”


Really, I’ve never understood why someone would buy a DVD copying set-up when you find them for free everywhere.

I’ve backed-up DVD’s that I feel a strong attachment to and have the iso’s stored on a portable hdd. No need for anything that Real sells. And besides Real is known for crappy protection schemes themselves. I would never support that company.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  03/04  at  11:48 AM

You’re right, @Mo. title should read “end of ‘legal’ DVD copying?”

@Eyal, I’m not sure you’re correct here:

On one hand, there is the Fair Use Act which clearly allows the legal holder of protected content to make a copy for personal use such as archiving.

It’s what SHOULD be, but the RealDVD decision suggests otherwise.

Posted by Just Me  on  03/04  at  11:50 AM

I think it is a sad day when our government basicly says if you buy something its not realy yours, these copywrite sceems simply don’t work anyway, many players will not play the dvd’s, so people have no choice as once you open it its yours, these companys are basicly violating a persons rights under our constitution and getting away with it they are using leagal ploys to prevent people from making leagle backup copys to a media that basicly is doomed to fail, the slitest scratch and its worthless, you have an older player its worthless, you have a slower computer or want to play it on a laptop its worthless, so basicly they are telling people buy this but we don’t care if you can play it.

Then lets talk cost, a movie comes out at some absurd cost but even most good old movies are around $20-$30 dollars, sure they sell $5 dvd’s but I can tell you 98% are worthless crap you usaly can’t even finish watching they are so lame. I have a pile of these things I bought at wallmart and they are almost all crap.

I can burn a DVD for less than a dollar including printing a lable and a dvd case, less than a dollar, yet hollyweird thinks I should pay $79.95 for a movie they have already made 200billion on and I have already paid $10 plus got riped for another $10 on a tiny thing of popcorn a medium drink and some milkduds to watch in a theater, plus have watched a bunch of advertising while waiting for the movie to start and had to put up with product placments in the movie its self.

I think someone should be suing the RIAA, and the movie companys for violating peoples constitutional rights, and they should also be brought up on charges under the Law for blatant price gouging, plus the people who work for the RIAA should be brought up on criminal charges for violating peoples cival rights as they are not a police agency and should not be involved in searching, tracking or monitoring anyones or any companys internet use, or products.

those things are for government agencys to do under leagle constitutional grounds with a search warrent, not by some group of thugs who think they are above the law, basicly the RIAA are a group of vigilantys with a huge war chest from a lot of foolish movie and recording companys and should be arested just like anyone else who takes the law into thier own hands.

As to these Copy protection scheems, will they ever learn, they don’t work, they cause leagle versions to not play correctly and they violate peoples rights to make backup copys under the constitution.

Posted by Anonymous  on  03/04  at  12:11 PM

@ Just Me:

While you may or may not be making some decent points in your tirade, could you possibly have misspelled anything more??

From your tone and grammar it is clear that you have a command of the english language and it is either your native language or one you’ve spoken for a very long time.
Please, PLEASE, at the very least use a spell checker if not learn to spell.

It truly reflects poorly on you (and to a passerby, likely on us all as an industry)

I couldn’t even finish reading your post as the errors were so distracting.

Posted by Willis  on  03/04  at  12:22 PM

Kaleiscape is dead! Finally, they were the only company that was given special treatment but now they are done.

Posted by Brett  on  03/04  at  01:49 PM

To Mike and Mogamer.

This theme seems to come up all the time now. While I will concede the point that there is plenty of free ripping software out there, the fact is that for many of us who do this professionally, we don’t like the idea of telling a client I’m going to install this fairly expensive media server for you, but just so you know, the software I am downloading is illegal, and realistically you could be held liable if MPAA ever wanted to press charges. If you think it doesn’t happen just look at the file sharing cases for MP3s. These organizations are looking to make a point, and while I know realistically they probably won’t go after my client, I would rather spend $100 for legal software and bypass the issue altogether. Better that than risk a client being unhappy or possibly losing business.

We need to help push fair use with CEA, CEDIA, and other organizations so we can use the software legally, but we also need to realize that we put our reputations on the line as professional installers when we recommend that a client uses anything illegal in a system we install.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  03/04  at  02:05 PM

Amen, Brett. As I said in the story, it’s like the MPAA and DVD CCA are begging us to buy illegal DVD-ripping software from offshore suppliers.

OK, so how about if Real charged $99 for its legal software and paid some royalties to the studios. Would that fly?

Sales, I’m sure, would be just as brisk.

Posted by Anon  on  03/04  at  09:18 PM

I used to envy a system like Kaleidescape which I would never be able to afford.  Recently I discovered AnyDVD and XBMC and all I can say is that I can’t believe I didn’t try it sooner.  The interface is incredible and there is so much online support that anybody can use it with a little bit of effort. 

As to the legal risk of using AnyDVD, I really see none.  The MPAA won’t chance suing consumers as it would probably lose from a Fair Use POV and a loss in that case would be devastating for the MPAA.

I realize that some people won’t want to deal with ripping their own collection and learning how to use something like XBMC.  With enough money they don’t need to and can use Kaleidescape.  For the rest of us, there are options and let me tell you, everybody who has seen my DVD collection in one of XBMCs beautiful skins gushes and asks how they could get it.  I tell them all you need is $350 (cost of media player or cheap HTPC, external HDD and AnyDVD) and are willing to put in a little time.

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