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Hollywood welcomes rulings against RealNetworks, Kaleidascape

Seattle-based RealNetworks’ RealDVD software violates federal anti-piracy law and goes against a contract RealNetworks signed to gain keys to unscramble DVDs, US District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel said as she banned the company from selling its DVD copying software, which effectively violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

DVDs are embedded with anti-piracy technology that prevents copying, Patel noted. "RealDVD products are designed primarily for circumvention of that technology," she wrote. "This unauthorized access infringes the Studios' rights because it entails accessing content without the authority of the copyright owner."

The $29.99 RealDVD software allows consumers to copy DVDs onto their computer hard drives.

RealNetworks has argued that buyers of DVDs have a fundamental right to make digital copies for safer and more convenient storage. The company's lawyers said the software contains piracy protections that limits a DVD owner to making just one copy. But the studios said they have the legal right to retain complete control over how content they've created is distributed.

Patel is the judge who shut down Napster in 2000 because of copyright violations, essentially placed RealDVD in the same category as the music-swapping site on Tuesday.

The ruling was a big win for the industry and RealNetworks said it is considering its options. A trial has not been scheduled. "This is a victory for the creators and producers of motion pictures and television shows and for the rule of law in our digital economy," said Dan Glickman, chairman and chief executive of the Motion Picture Association of America.

The victory was all the sweeter as as few days later a California appellate court reversed a previous decision and sided with the DVD Copy Control Association (DVD CCA) against Kaleidescape, finding that the company was in violation of its contract.

Kaleidescape produces a home server that customers can use to store movies that can then be delivered to different systems around the house. Kaleidescape's products start around $8,000. Judge P.J. Rushing wrote the concurring opinion in the case and noted that the DVD CCA was more interested in enforcing the letter of the law rather than spirit, the LA Times reports.

Story filed 24.08.09

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