updated 11:05 pm EDT, Tue August 11, 2009
RealDVD Injuction Stays
A US court on Tuesday maintained (reg. required) a preliminary injunction that prevents RealNetworks from selling its RealDVD software pending the results of a lawsuit against the company. The decision is characterized by Judge Marilyn Patel as a safeguard given the legal ramifications of the technology. While she agrees individual DVD copying is legal given fair use principles, she warns that software designed to streamline copying and sharing DVDs is often illegal under federal law and that allowing sales may run afoul of that law.
Real has actively opposed the injunction and has taken to countersuing the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) claiming antitrust abuse through their interpretation of copyright law. It argues that, as the copy protection on the DVDs is maintained and bars casual sharing, it's not violating the copyright of the studios producing the titles. The MPAA is further accused of collusion by using a joint agreement between member studios to exclude competitors.
MPAA chief Dan Glickman nonetheless praised the decision as a triumph of the "rule of law."
A formal trial isn't expected for a year or more, but the ruling by itself may have a severe impact on the fate of RealDVD and of the concept of devices that could store copies of a user's DVDs. Until its legal battle, Real had been prototyping a system called Facet that would mimic RealDVD without the need for a computer, ripping and storing movies for the user's personal access later.