Blog Post

RealNetworks Loses First Ruling in RealDVD Case

Well, this isn’t too much of a surprise, but a federal court found that RealNetworks’ DVD ripping software RealDVD violated copyright law. U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Patel issued a preliminary injunction yesterday that will prohibit the company from selling RealDVD until a jury can decide the case.

It’s hard to believe this has been going on for almost a year already. RealDVD was launched — complete with a pre-emptive lawsuit against Hollywood studios — in September of last year, and the studios immediately responded with their own suit, claiming that the software violated the DMCA. Patel issued and extended a restraining order last October that barred Real from selling the software.

Patel found that in accessing content from a hard drive RealDVD was “circumventing CSS technology and violating the access-control provision of the license.” You can read her full ruling here.

Dan Glickman, chief executive of the MPAA, issued a statement saying:

We are very pleased with the court’s decision. 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. Judge Patel’s ruling affirms what we have known all along: RealNetworks took a license to build a DVD player and instead made an illegal DVD copier. Throughout the development of RealDVD, RealNetworks demonstrated that it was willing to break the law at the expense of those who create entertainment content.

RealNetworks issued its own statement:

We are disappointed that a preliminary injunction has been placed on the sale of RealDVD. We have just received the judge’s detailed ruling and are reviewing it. After we have done so fully, we’ll determine our course of action and will have more to say at that time.

Determining the next course of action has big implications for Real. Legal fees for the case have cost the company $6 million and have been a drag on its financials.