RealNetworks, Inc. v. DVD Copy Control Ass’n
On Tuesday, October 7th, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel announced she would not disturb a temporary restraining order in place against RealNetworks (“Real”), pending a preliminary injunction hearing in mid-November. The order blocks Real from selling RealDVD, a software program that allows users to copy DVDs to a computer or portable hard drive and watch them later without the physical disk.
The DVD Copy Control Association (“CCA”), filed a motion ex parte for the order just hours after Real began selling the program. The CCA claimed that RealDVD violates the Digital Copyright Millennium Act (“DMCA”) by circumventing DRM protections on DVDs, and that Real’s development of the program violates a licensing agreement the companies had signed. With regards to the TRO, the CCA stated, “Real’s conduct is causing and unless restrained will continue to cause immediate and irreparable harm to [a number of Hollywood] Studios, including to their DVD rental and sale markets . . . .”
Real responded in opposition, claiming that any harm the Studios may suffer is “compensable or illusory.” Real argued that the widespread availability of illegal DVD pirating programs undercuts the CCA’s claims, and urged the court that a TRO would irreparably harm the company by depriving Real of positive publicity and other market advantages. In the filing, Real maintained that its product conforms to the requirements of its license with CCA, and therefore does not violate the DMCA.
Tuesday’s hearing was the second regarding the restraining order. According to Wired.com, Judge Patel originally put the order in place on Friday, October 3rd, warning both parties not to disclose details to the public.
CNET.com provides a summary of the hearing. As result of Judge Patel’s concern that RealDVD may result in copyright violations, the software will remain unavailable pending further hearings in November.
Real initiated litigation with the CCA on September 30th, seeking a declaratory judgment stating RealDVD does not violate the DMCA, and that Real did not violate its licensing agreement with the CCA in developing the product.
The CCA cross-claimed, alleging that RealDVD circumvents DRM controls on DVD disks, and therefore violates both the DMCA and the companies’ contract.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has questioned the CCA's rationale, criticizing it as an attempt by Hollywood to stifle and control innovation.