back to article Judge traps RealDVD in legal limbo

RealNetworks has been forced to shut down sales of its DVD copying software, RealDVD, while a California judge decides if it violates US copyright laws. The company clearly knew there would be trouble from Hollywood studios at the outset. On the day of RealDVD's release, Real preemptively filed a lawsuit against the Motion …


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  1. Neil Cooper

    Meh. Good riddance to it.

    Honestly, good riddance to it. IMHO all DRM is bad.

    There so many free ways to rip DVDs and remove all DRM at the same time, why would anyone pay good money for something that adds even more DRM, or even care what happens to such a product?

  2. Graham Lockley

    A question mark IS a title

    Real vs Hollywood

    ...and the good guys are ?

  3. Moss Icely Spaceport


    These guys are all dinosaurs, and we know what happened to them!

    They all got wise and moved on!

  4. Iain

    Really, Real?

    "Rest assured, we will continue to work diligently to provide you with software that allows you to make a legal copy of your DVDs for your own use,"

    And yet the Judge appears to agree that breaking open the DRM on DVDs (which, no matter what they do afterwards will have to happen) constitutes circumventing copy protection measures. Because it quite clearly is.

    Real have a legitimate product here, even if they're historically scumbags for the nightmare that was RealPlayer. But US law explicitly states that this class of product is illegal, just in case there might be profit for Hollywood without it.

  5. Che Kristo


    So instead of taking the least worst (for them) option they would prefer to remove Real from the market leaving consumers with such software titles as "Mac the ripper" which most definitely will not be encoding in their beloved DRM. I support them in their endeavor just as I would help Hitler voluntarily euthanise :-)

  6. Anonymous Coward


    Why use I've no idea...

    However care, yes because it sets a precidence where by the producers of said free software might not get sued out of existance...

  7. TMS9900
    Paris Hilton

    I thought...

    ... that despite media companies protestations to the contrary, UK law permitted the licencee to make copies of media that they owned for backup purposes, be that a data CD, and audio CD, DVD, Audio cassette, or vinyl album.

    Am I right?

    I appreciate that this article pertains to US law, but I'm wondering if they (the media companies and their cartel like organisations that represent them) would get away with the same thing in the UK?

    I guess I must be *wrong* eh? Otherwise, deliberately preventing users from making backup copies of media would be illegal, since it would deny the user their legal right to back it up in the first place?

    Paris, because she's probably confused as well.

  8. michael

    Real vs Hollywood

    who ever wins we lol

  9. Anonymous Coward


    i would like to know in which plane of existence the "anti-pirates" dwell????Clearly not the earth and not 21rst century.

    meanwhile i will continue watching (and ripping) all their movies for free and without fear.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    Only lawyers will win. That and pirates.

    The rest will lose out, including Hollywood.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    8 or 9 years

    After trudging up the hill to blockbuster to return DVDs without getting fined, me and a mate of mine speculated that an online blockbuster where you could just download the DVDs would be ideal.

    That was 8 or 9 years ago. That was when hollywood had its chance.

    I am happy to say that the MPAA can rest assured, I will not try and copy their DVDs, I will simply download them all ready to be burned thanks to the ripping and preparation efforts of those seeding movies on bit torrent.

    Hollywood is dead, i'm no customer of theirs since they want to criminalise me so much.

  12. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)


    Nope - there is no back-up right in UK copyright law. IIRC, the only such so-called 'fair usage' provisions are for quoting for review purposes and quoting for academic purposes, but any copyright lawyer reading this will be able to clarify.

    Making a tape of a CD, say, to use in the car, or to stop your kids scratching it, is technically illegal, unless the copyright owner has allowed you to do so. Most don't.

    That said, unless plod happens to be at your house, spots a copied disc and chooses to make something of it, the chances of you being nabbed by the copyright holder is microscopic.

  13. A J Stiles

    And in the meantime

    There's always K3B.

    With the right extensions (downloadable from any unofficial repository) you can turn a DVD into a DRM-free *bootable* CD that will play on any PC, without the need to install any software on that PC. And it's even considered Fair Dealing, as long as you own the DVD and the PC is technically incapable of playing DVDs.

  14. Eddie Edwards

    @ Iain

    "the Judge appears to agree that breaking open the DRM on DVDs constitutes circumventing copy protection measures. Because it quite clearly is."

    Indeed so.

    "But US law explicitly states that this class of product is illegal."

    Not necessarily.

    The DMCA refers to "effective" copy protection measures. CSS was broken about 8 years ago; ergo it is not effective. Real can point to thousands of sites/trackers containing DVD rips.

    AFAICT the case revolves around the meaning of the word "effective". IMHO Real are not going to win by saying, yes, we did break the DMCA, but then we fixed the hole. They're only going to win by saying, no, we didn't break the DMCA. And if they win on that basis, they don't need to fix the hole.

  15. EvilGav

    @ Tony Smith

    "That said, unless plod happens to be at your house, spots a copied disc and chooses to make something of it, the chances of you being nabbed by the copyright holder is microscopic."

    Except that copyright infringement is a civil matter, not a criminal act, AFAIK IANAL.

    Which *should* mean that plod could tell MPAA, RIAA, BPI etc etc and leave it to them to bring a prosecution, he cant arrest you, because the crime is against another person and the other person needs to make the move to create a case.

    At least, thats my understanding of copy-right law in the UK, it's all far to complicated.

  16. Chris Cheale

    UK Copying...

    It's even illegal in the UK to burn CDs to MP3 - which means including the "rip" feature in any software could be viewed as "inducing copyright infringement" - which, oddly enough, is what got Napster shut down in the first place.

    I had a weird suspicion that the Lords were leaning on the Commons to change this? I may be way off base on that though.

  17. Mungo

    Its all illegal.....everything!

    Little known fact that it is illegal to change the published format that copyright materials were originally produced and retailed in.

    That is, it is still currently illegal to rip a CD to MP3 and upload to ur iPOD. What a fucking mess.

    I have absolute zero sympathy for whingy whiny copyright upholding organisations who do nothing to straighten the law and educate people about what is right and wrong when Apple and Sony encourage people to break the same laws every day.

    I hope they all get a serious shafting.

    Its no wonder that most people that so many people rip off music from any sources as it is currently illegal to rip it form any source, even if you have bought it.

    Skull & Crossbones because the law has made pirates of us all.

  18. Iain

    @Eddie Edwards, re: "effective"

    The DMCA has already been upheld against ROT13 in the case of ebooks, hasn't it? So something as complex (though broken) as CSS has got to count.

    Otherwise, it becomes a non-law. Broken protection is 'ineffective', and 'effective' protection means you don't have a hack to distribute in the first place.

  19. Dave


    I think you are right; I do have some vague and distant memory that because there was some protection (no matter how weak or trivial) on the eBook, that anything getting around it was a circumvention device, and therefore illegal. That same ruling could then be used in this, so yes, it becomes a circumvention device which has been ruled illegal in a past judgement. With that said, IANAL ;)

    Urgh! Such a stupid act; DMCA should never have been made law! (And the USA should never have been allowed to "sell" it to other countries).

  20. Anonymous Coward

    What a waste

    Last time I checked, RealNetworks was a publicly traded company. They have their very own stock symbol and everything. Ostensibly, they're supposed to turn a profit, but their stock price is in the toilet and they posted significant losses last quarter. I just don't get how starting this big expensive fight over a product that nobody wanted anyway is supposed to be smart business.

    Besides, they're not even fighting the DMCA. Their argument is that they're complying with it in a creative way. Big deal. I don't see anybody winning anything from this. If Real wins, they'll get the right to sell a product that nobody will buy. If Hollywood wins, nothing changes. Either way, we'll still be subject to oppressive laws.

  21. A J Stiles

    @ Chris Cheale

    Whatever the BPI would like you to think, it isn't illegal to format-shift material you own -- at least, not as long as the device on which you intend to play it is incapable of accepting the original medium.

    Nobody has ever been arrested for format-shifting, nobody ever will be, and even if they ever were, and they rightfully insisted on a Crown Court, they would be acquitted by a jury (out of any twelve people, the odds are well in your favour that two of them have done it themselves). The verdict would then set a legally binding precedent -- much to the chagrin of the BPI.

    It's *treated* as though it were illegal purely so that police officers can obtain warrants to search the premises of known villains, on the strength of a home-taped cassette found in a car.

    Unless you're wanted for something else that they haven't been able to prove, the Old Bill aren't in the slightest bit interested in a little bit of home taping or iPod-loading. And if they do get a magistrate to award them that little fishing trip, you can bet what you like that the copyright offences won't be mentioned anywhere on the charge sheet by the time it gets to court.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Real: Wrong legal strategy

    >"At nearly the same time, the MPAA filed its own lawsuit claiming RealDVD violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by circumventing technology that prevents copying without permission of the copyright holders."

    And you see, that's Real's big mistake. They should not allow the claim that CSS is a copy-prevention technology to stand, because it simply is not any such thing.

  23. Anonymous Coward


    The more they restrict restrict restrict what people can do with bought media, the more likely people are to shout f*** 'em and rebel to the extreme.

    Copying CDs and DVDs is no different to time shifting. It's about convenience.

    What difference does it make to them if I have a CD in my house and a copy in the car ?? Or if I spend 10minutes raking through my stuff before I go to out, looking for the one CD so I can hear it in the house and then in the car?

    I'm not going to buy it twice. The only difference is it's saving me 10minutes searching and the hassle of having to carry it about with me.

    Scratches are accidental and/or wear and tear. It's obviously not a very good product in the first place then, and copying it is essentially repairing something. Like sewing a piece of clothing back together.

    Why should people be penalized for what is a low quality item at a high price? Customers are not paying for the easily scratched disk/song that will self destruct at any moment, they are paying for the right to own the song so they can listen to it when they want. It just so happens that it was sold in that form (on an easily scratched disk).

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