Right to Copy DVDs to PCs at Center of Copyright Spat

6 10 2008

[A lot of material in the book connects here. Chapter 1 includes a number of DeCSS and DVD-Related DMCA Cases; Chapter 8 examines digital rights management. Both the Introduction and Chapter 2 raise questions about fairness to consumers when corporate holders of intellectual property attempt to control content to “one platform per payment.” ell]

realDMCA junkies, start your engines. Once again, the movie industry is going after a new technology it believes violates copyright laws. The majors — including Walt Disney, Warners, News Corp.’s Fox, Universal, Paramount and Sony — are ganging up to sue RealNetworks Inc. over a new software program, called RealDVD, that let’s consumers copy DVDs onto computers.

Here are reports from the WSJ and the LAT. The complaint appears to have been filed under seal, but you can find RealNetwork’s opposition to the studios’ motion for a TRO here.

“RealNetworks RealDVD should be called StealDVD,” said Greg Goeckner, the general counsel of the Motion Picture Association of America, the main lobbying arm of the movie studios, in a statement. “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.” Reps of the individual movie studios declined to comment to the WSJ or couldn’t be reached. News Corp. owns Dow Jones, publisher of the Law Blog.

RealNetworks, which filed its own suit against the studios in federal court in San Francisco, accused the studios of continuing an entertainment-industry pattern of trying to crush technologies that give consumers flexibility in how they enjoy music, video and other media. The Seattle company said it wanted to protect consumers’ “fair-use rights” to make copies of their own purchased DVDs. “Our argument for the studios has been embrace technology — it can help you create new business opportunities,” said Rob Glaser, CEO of RealNetworks.

The suit, notes the WSJ, is likely to hinge on whether RealNetworks “circumvents” the copy-protection software in DVDs, a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. But according to Stanford law prof Mark Lemley, the spat may ultimately hinge on the language of the license RealNetworks obtained from the DVD Copy Control Association. “If Real has a legitimate license to do this under the contract, the circumvention claim goes away, because they’re not cracking the encryption system,” Lemley told the LAT. “They’ve been given the keys and authorized to do it.”

Defending the suit for RealNetworks is a team from Wilson Sonsini that includes James DiBoise, Colleen Bal and Michael Berta.



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