Hollywood sues RealNetworks over DVD copying software

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Six Hollywood studios have filed a legal suit against RealNetworks for releasing RealDVD, which allows users to copy commercial DVDs.

Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Studios, Warner Brothers, Columbia Pictures, the Walt Disney Company and Sony are sueing the company and seeking an injunction to stop any further sale of the software.

“RealNetworks’ RealDVD should be called StealDVD,” explained Greg Goeckner, general counsel for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

“RealNetworks knows its product violates the law and undermines the hard-won trust that has been growing between America’s movie makers and the technology community. We will vigorously defend our right to stop companies from bringing products to market that mislead consumers and clearly violate the law.”

RealNetworks is defending the case by arguing that its software still encrypts copies of DVDs and thus stops them from being shared on peer to peer networks.

“We are disappointed that the movie industry is following in the footsteps of the music industry and trying to shut down advances in technology, rather than embracing changes that provide consumers with more value and flexibility for their purchases,” RealNetworks said in a statement.

However the studios are claiming that the software is being used in “rent, rip and return” scams, where DVDs are rented from firms like Blockbuster or Netflix, copied and then sent back.

The studios are suing under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA), which prohibits the sale of software that gets around copy protection systems.

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