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Judge slaps ban on RealDVD software

'What happened in Vegas didn't stay in Vegas'

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A US federal district court judge has handed a preliminary injunction to Hollywood studios, to prevent RealNetworks from selling its RealDVD product to US customers who want to copy DVDs using the software.

"The RealDVD products, by their very nature, open a veritable Pandora’s box of liability for Real,” wrote Judge Marilyn Hall Patel in the injunction order.

"RealDVD makes a permanent copy of copyrighted DVD content and by doing so breaches its CSS License Agreement with DVD CCA, and circumvents a technological measure that effectively controls access to or copying of the Studios' copyrighted content on DVDs."

RealNetworks said it was unhappy with yesterday's ruling in the federal district court of California.

"We are disappointed that a preliminary injunction has been placed on the sale of RealDVD," it said in a statement.

"We have just received the Judge's detailed ruling and are reviewing it. After we have done so fully, we'll determine our course of action and will have more to say at that time."

Movie giants brought a lawsuit against the digital software company in September 2008.

In May this year, RealNetworks filed an antitrust action against the major US studios. It claimed it had a legally obtained licence to use CSS decryption, and therefore its RealDVD copying software was not only legit, but attempts by the studios to block it amounted to antitrust.

However, the Hollywood studios in the case, including Disney, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Universal Studios, have complained that the software should be banned because it overlooks acceptable encryption methods and violates copyright law.

The Motion Picture Association of America and the DVD Copy Control Association (DVD CCA) have been supporting the studios' allegations against RealNetworks.

"Had Real's products been manufactured differently, i.e., if what happened in Vegas really did stay in Vegas, this might have been a different case," wrote Hall Patel when summing up her notes on the prelim injunction.

"But it is what it is. Once the distributive nature of the copying process takes hold, like the spread of gossip after a weekend in Vegas, what's done cannot be undone."

The prelim injunction against RealNetworks will remain in place until the full case is heard. The judge's order can be viewed here. ®

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