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RealNetworks Preemptively Sues DVD CCA, Studios to Allow RealDVD

Fearing lawsuits from DVD CCA and Hollywood studios, RealNetworks asks courts to OK RealDVD copying software; MPAA sues back, asks for restraining order.

RealNetworks has yet to be sued by studios for its new RealDVD copying software, but there have been enough threats that the company preemptively sued its would-be accusers. (UPDATE: The MPAA subsequently sued Real. See below.)

RealNetworks' RealDVD is a PC application that lets consumers copy their DVDs – with encryption intact – to a hard drive.

The product is similar to those from Kaleidescape, which has been sued by the DVD CCA (Copy Control Association), licensor of the Content Scramble System (CSS) that protects DVDs from copyright infringement.

Anticipating similar action from the DVD CCA, RealNetworks filed a suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, asking the court to rule that RealDVD "fully complies with the DVD Copy Control Association's license agreement," according to a company statement.

RealNetworks refers specifically to Kaleidescape in its statement: "The trial court ruled against the DVD CCA and allowed the distribution of a product similar to RealDVD. … Having lost the case once, the major studios are now trying to get a different result by going to a different court."

Like RealDVD, Kaleidescape's products keep the CSS decryption intact when DVDs are copied to its servers.

The DVD CCA claims that its licensing agreement prohibits any copying of protected DVDs, whether CSS is maintained or not.

Kaleidescape won the first legal round against the DVD CCA, with the court ruling that greater restrictions imposed by the DVD CCA are not part of the official licensing agreement that Kaleidescape signed.

The DVD CCA is appealing that case.

RealNetworks says it is preemptively suing the DVD CCA and certain studies "to protect consumers' ability to exercise their fair-use rights for their purchased DVDs."

RealNetworks' action was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, naming the DVD Copy Control Association, Inc., Disney Enterprises, Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp., Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., NBC Universal, Inc., Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., and Viacom, Inc.

Read the full statement from RealNetworks.

Studios Fire Back with Suit and Restraining Order

Shortly after RealNetworks filed its complaint, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) filed a lawsuit of its own and asked for a temporary restraining order against the maker of RealDVD.

In its statement, the MPAA, which represents the nation's top movie companies, says RealDVD "violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) because its software illegally bypasses the copyright protection built into DVDs that protect movies against theft."

The statement quotes Greg Goeckner, executive vice president and general counsel of the MPAA:

RealNetworks’ RealDVD should be called StealDVD. 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 major motion picture studios have been making major investments in technologies that allow people to access entertainment in a variety of new and legal ways. This includes online video-on-demand, download-to-own, as well as legitimate digital copies for storage and use on computers and portable devices that are increasingly being made available on or with DVDs.

Our industry will continue on this path because it gives consumers greater choices than ever. However, we will vigorously defend our right to stop companies from bringing products to market that mislead consumers and clearly violate the law.

Read the MPAA's full statement.

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 · Media Servers · Legal · Legal · Media Server · 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. [More by Julie Jacobson]


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