RealNetworks and Hollywood battling over DVD ripping

Seattle (WA) – RealNetworks and many Hollywood movie studios are going head to head on Friday in a San Francisco district court where it will be determined by Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, who oversaw the original Napster case, whether or not RealNetworks’ DVD copying software, RealDVD, violated a licensing agreement which covers the digital-rights-management protocols utilized by DVDs.

In September, a lawsuit was filed by the MPAA against RealNetworks, which maintains that their software is within the fair-use rights and that consumers have every right to do what they with their DVDs. Federal copyright law prohibits individuals from circumventing copy protection included on DVD’s. The company also feels that merely because other companies offer software that allows CSS protections to be stripped from DVDs so that they can be either copied or backed up, does not mean that the RealDVD product itself contributes to piracy, but that their software is rather abused.

In its basics, the case is a contract dispute that will determine whether or not RealNetworks had a license to utilize the CSS code that protects DVDs and whether or not the license was in compliance.

The MPAA believes that a Digital Copy feature introduced 2008 allows consumers to pay more money in a retail location for a Digital Copy of their DVDs so that they can be placed on a PC in a protected manner. RealNetworks claims that their service competes with Digital Copy, and that their business is currently being harmed by a temporary ban that was placed on the sale of RealDVD last fall. It will be up to Judge Patel whether or not the program will be placed back on the market.

RealNetworks is seeking a declaratory judgment which would allow the company to sell their software again. The studios are hoping to see a permanent ban placed on the software sales.