Feeds

Real Networks rolls over to Hollywood

Will kill RealDVD, pay $4.5m

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

RealNetworks has agreed to destroy all traces of its short-lived DVD-duplicating software, RealDVD, to appease the Hollywood heads that brought legal action against it.

As part of a settlement filed Wednesday in a California court, the company will also cough up $4.5m in legal fees to the six movie studios, Viacom, and the DVD Copy Control Association, who claimed RealDVD software violates US copyright law.

The pact effectively ends a legal battle lasting nearly 17 months. It began the same day Real released the DVD copying software in 2008.

Real had argued that consumers have the right to create backup copies of their DVDs under US copyright law's recognition of the doctrine of fair use. RealDVD software copies DVD files to a hard drive with decryption keys in place.

But movie studios and others claimed the software is illegal under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 because RealDVD must circumvent technology designed to prevent unauthorized copying of copyrighted work.

"Almost from the moment this product was introduced, it was clear RealDVD violated the [Content Scramble System] license," said Jacob Pak, President of the DVD CCA in a statement. "Now, after months of arguments from both sides, the legal message is clear: making a DVD copier is a breach of the CSS license."

Although relatively respectful to decryption keys compared to other DVD copying software, RealNetworks clearly had a notion its product would rouse the legal dogs of Hollywood. On the day of RealDVD's release in September 2008, Real preemptively filed a lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment that the software was legal. That was immediately followed by movie studios countering with their own lawsuit aimed at banning the product.

In August 2009, the court granted the studios' request for a preliminary block on RealDVD. Real then took an unusual step of revising its complaint to argue that Hollywood's collective scheme to block the software amounted to a "cartel" in violation to US anti-competition laws.

But US district judge Marilyn Patel dismissed Real's antitrust claims, ruling that any financial injury suffered from the injunction was due to "its own decision to manufacture and traffic in a device that is almost certainly illegal under the DMCA".

With the court clearly against it, Real seemed to have little choice but to settle or lose the case.

Under the agreement between Real and Hollywood, the company agreed to end support for RealDVD and will not sell, advertise, or duplicate any more software that provides unauthorized access to copyrighted content under various DRM technologies such as CSS and RipGuard. It is also forbidden to transfer any RealDVD intellectual property or know-how to third parties.

Real also said it will "render inoperable" any software or hardware copies of RealDVD in the possession of Real and its employees.

"We are pleased to put this litigation behind us," said a mollified Bob Kimball, president and acting CEO for Real in a statement. "This is another step toward fulfilling our commitment to simplify our company and focus on our core business. Until this dispute, Real had always enjoyed a productive working relationship with Hollywood."

Kimball added that the company will turn off the metadata service that provides DVD cover art and movie information to owners of RealDVD, and it's in the process of refunding the purchase price of the product to customers. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Kaspersky backpedals on 'done nothing wrong, nothing to fear' blather
Founder (and internet passport fan) now says privacy is precious
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Sit tight, fanbois. Apple's '$400' wearable release slips into early 2015
Sources: time to put in plenty of clock-watching for' iWatch
Facebook to let stalkers unearth buried posts with mobe search
Prepare to HAUNT your pal's back catalogue
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?