Talking tech since 2003

For about two years now, RealNetworks, the company behind products such as RealPlayer and RealOne, has been involved with legal battles with the Motion Picture Association of America, who stated that RealDVD, a DVD cloning and backup product, was illegal.  The MPAA; the same organization the pursues peer-to-peer downloaders, stated that RealNetwork’s RealDVD product violated the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which prohibited consumers from copying, distributing, and downloading movies and films.

RealNetworks counter-argued, stating that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act allowed for consumers to create backup copies of their movies and films, just in case the original media became damaged or unreadable, and that their RealDVD solution simply allowed consumers to exercise their rights in a simple, user-friendly matter.

However, on March 3rd of this year, United States courts ruled that the RealDVD product violated the licensing of DVD de-scrambling licenses that are typically issued to DVD player manufactures to decode the Content Scrambling System (also known as CSS), by allowing the data to be duplicated as opposed to simply read.

The end result, as per the U.S. District court system, requires that RealNetworks never develop, distribute, or sell RealDVD or any products like it.  RealNetworks is also being forced to pay the Motion Picture Association of America four and half million dollars in order to reimburse them for the legal costs of pursuing the matter.  All in all this ultimately lead to Rob Glaser, the CEO of RealNetworks to lose his job.

This ruling is significant in the sense that it shows the power the Digital Melinium Copyright Act has over consumers and private industry, and how relatively powerless the consumer is once they purchase a film distributed via DVD media.  It’s also significant to note that there is a boatload of DVD-ripping and DVD-cloning software available on the internet, but that it is all relatively “underground”.  The fact of the matter is, RealNetworks tried to commercialize such products in order to make a profit, and in the long run, failed.

In conclusion, the matter is important because it shows how little power the consumer has, and it strengthens and justifies the Digital Millennium Copyright Act; a law that is embraced by the movie and record industries, and hated by many consumers.


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