October 7, 2008

RealNetworks Told To Stop Selling DVD Copying Software

A U.S. District Court has ordered RealNetworks to stop selling its RealDVD software, which the company says provides users a legal way to copy DVDs.

Six leading movie studios -- Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Disney and Warner Bros -- jointly sued the Seattle, WA- based software company on September 30, the day the software was unveiled.  San Francisco District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel was set to review the case on Tuesday.

RealNetworks responded to the suit by saying its RealDVD software is a legal method for users to turn their PC into a media server.

"It makes it easy to pause a program and resume right where you left off, makes it easy to find the movie you want and no more lost or scratched discs," Real Network's CEO Rob Glaser wrote on the company's bog.

Mr. Glaser claims that RealDVD uses a second layer of encryption, but the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) maintains the software evades copyright laws. The MPAA is currently prohibited from commenting on the case.

The RealDVD Website was taken down October 3, but a defiant message now remains that reads: "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."

Glaser is clearly disappointed with the situation. 

"As a company with a nearly 15 year track record of innovation that's both great for consumers and fully respectful of intellectual property, we're disappointed that the movie studios thought they had to file lawsuits," he wrote on the company blog.

"We began active discussions with the studios even before we announced RealDVD and up until last night were optimistic that we could find common ground with them without having to resort to the legal system," he said.

The current lawsuit is not the first time the company has found itself amid such controversy.  In 2004, Apple claimed RealNetworks had employed "hacker tactics" when it touted a way to allow non-Apple endorsed music tracks to be played on an iPod.

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