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Judge blames RealNetworks for DVD-ripping ban

Snuffs antitrust claims against Hollywood

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A US district judge has rejected RealNetworks' argument that Hollywood studios illegally joined forces to block the sale of its DVD-duplicating software, RealDVD.

On Friday, judge Marilyn Patel in California dismissed Real's antitrust claims, saying the preliminary injunction against distributing the DVD copying software still stands and that the company has no one to blame but itself.

RealNetworks clearly knew RealDVD would rouse trouble from Hollywood heads at the outset. On the day of its release in September 2008, Real preemptively filed a lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgmn ent that its software is legal. On the same day, movie studios countered with a lawsuit seeking to block Real's new approach to DVD-ripping.

RealDVD copies DVD files to a hard drive with decryption keys in place to create backup copies while retaining copy protection. The Motion Picture Association of America and others claim the software is illegal under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) because it bypasses technology designed to prevent copying.

In August 2009, the court granted the Studios' request for a preliminary ban on RealDVD. In the meantime, Real had filed an amended complaint that argued Hollywood's attempts to block the software amounted to a "cartel" agreement that violates US anti-competition laws.

But judge Patel said movie studios have a legitimate right to fight what they believes is illegal copying software. She said any financial losses suffered by Real from the injunction are the result of court action and not the studios' behavior.

"Real's purported injury stems from its own decision to manufacture and traffic in a device that is almost certainly illegal under the DMCA," Patel wrote.

Under the ruling, Real isn't allowed to modify its claims for the case, leaving the firm with few options until the MPAA's original lawsuit against RealDVD runs its course.

RealNetworks told El Reg it had nothing to say about the decision at this point. ®

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