• RealNetworks Barred From Selling DVD Copy Software
  • August 26, 2009
  • Law Firm: Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP - Los Angeles Office
  • In a widely anticipated decision, on August 11, a San Francisco federal district court granted the Hollywood movie studios a preliminary injunction barring RealNetworks from selling its RealDVD copying software or licensing it to set-top box manufacturers.

    The court found that RealNetworks violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and its contract with the DVD Copy Control Association in developing DVD copying software. It did not address the central issue of whether consumers have the right to make backup copies of their DVDs, but focused instead on RealNetworks’ right to sell the software allowing them to do so.

    In a related case that is still pending, RealNetworks has sued the studios on antitrust grounds. RealNetworks released the following statement in reaction to the decision: “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.”

    Why it matters: The DMCA criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures that control access to copyrighted works. However, RealNetworks argues that it has the right to sell a product designed to allow consumers to make backup copies. Although RealNetworks has yet to announce whether it will appeal the district court’s ruling to the Ninth Circuit, most observers expect that it will.