RealNetworks kills RealDVD to settle Hollywood lawsuits

RealNetworks kills RealDVD to settle Hollywood lawsuits

Summary: RealNetworks said today that it would kill the RealDVD software to bring an end to lawsuits filed by Hollywood studios.

TOPICS: Legal, Hardware, Mobility

It's the end of the line for RealDVD, the consumer DVD-copying software that barely ever saw the light of day.

RealNetworks said today that it agreed to the terms of a permanent injunction that prohibits the company from selling the product or any technology that enables DVD-ripping. The product allowed users to copy their personal DVDs onto a hard drive for restricted playback, much like music CDs can be imported into a computer via Apple's iTunes and other products.

As part of the settlement, Real will also disable the technology that powers the approximately 2,700 copies of the software that were sold before the studios prevailed and were able to score an injunction to halt sales of the product. Those customers will be receiving a refund from Real.

Finally, Real will pay the studios $4.5 million for fees related to the lawsuits. In a statement, president and acting CEO Bob Kimball, who replaced company founder Rob Glaser after he stepped down in January, said:

We are pleased to put this litigation behind us. This is another step toward fulfilling our commitment to simplify our company and focus on our core businesses. Until this dispute, Real had always enjoyed a productive working relationship with Hollywood.  With this litigation resolved, I hope that in the future we can find mutually beneficial ways to use Real technology to bring Hollywood’s great work to consumers.

The product was controversial from the beginning, with the Hollywood suits coming in as soon as the company released the products. In the months that followed the filing of the suits, Glaser was committed to fighting the studios, saying that it was a product worth fighting for.

There were fair-use advocates - myself included - who said that the courts shouldn't block innovative software based on "what-if" scenarios, which were played out during court proceedings last Spring.  Music CD-ripping products also contain plenty of what-ifs related to improper use and unauthorized copies but no one is shutting down the "Import CD" feature on iTunes.

In the end, the technology that powered the software - and the question of whether its use was authorized - raised enough red flags to dilute any arguments related to fair-use. Ultimately, the case came down to Real's violation of the Content Scramble System (CSS) license agreement it had with the studios. In a statement, Jacob Pak, president of the DVD Copy Control Association, said:

Almost from the moment this product was introduced, it was clear RealDVD violated the CSS license. Now, after months of arguments from both sides, the legal message is clear: making a DVD copier is a breach of the CSS license. This case demonstrates how important it is to uphold legal agreements that are essential to fostering and maintaining a vibrant competitive industry... We would always prefer to focus our efforts on working with licensees on the development of new or improved DVD products for consumers and our industry.  But such a cooperative approach requires licensees to respect the CSS license and its amendment process, which did not occur in this case.  The CSS license, which allows licensees to develop and manufacture compatible products under common specifications and at low cost, enabled the birth and growth of a robust DVD industry, benefiting consumers and technology companies as well as those companies whose high-quality entertainment is protected on DVDs.

Topics: Legal, Hardware, Mobility

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  • As much as I hate to admit

    A contract is a contract, if Real signed it, then they shouldn't have breached it.

    Hopefully when the contract expires, Real won't sign it the next time, and re-release the software.
    John Zern
    • They can't...

      If they do not have a contract to use the CSS decrytion they are in violation of the DMCA laws.
      • ... in the USA

        Outside of the states the DMCA laws have no relevance. And I'm sure there would be enough of a demand in those markets to make it worth their while.
        Michael Kelly
        • Even in the U.S.

          There's no way to enforce it. Unless you plan of having jack-booted thugs break down everybody's door to see if they have compliant codecs or not.
          • The MPAA (and others) want that right.

            "[i]...having jack-booted thugs break down everybody's door to see if they have compliant codecs or not.[/i]"

            The MPAA (and others) want that right. Sooner or later they'll offer large enough "re-election donations" to politicians and they will get it.

          • Well they're not gonna get it

            Pie in the sky. The mpaa doesn't control the internet, much as they would like to.

            They haven't put an end to p2p networks, now have they?
            still not nice
          • Unfortunately...

            Unfortunately they don't need to control the Internet, only corrupt politicians.

          • That's why it's important to support groups like the EFF


            And see these corporate jack-booted thugs in court.

            Let's start taking back some of our Constitutional rights, shall we?
            still not nice
  • They are still around?

    Gotta say, for many years now my peers on various fora have learned to run, not walk, away from anything to do with RealNetworks and the "free" RealPlayer. The way that their player put its hooks into your system became a textbook example of what not to do, and the company acquired a very negative reputation as a result.

    Their DVD cloning software was introduced many years ago, and I'm surprised they are still around. There are many better ways to clone a DVD out there.
    • I was rooting for Real

      Realplayer has been sucktastic since the dialup
      days. Heck, pretty much everything that they've
      written since 1998 has been an embarassment
      that has been consistently outdone by Winamp,
      Windows Media, and any number of other apps.

      In the MPAA's defense, I do understand that the
      CSS license was granted in order for RealPlayer
      to play DVDs, and leveraging that license for
      RealDVD was bad on their part. As usual though,
      Hollywood has been spending the last decade
      making lots of pirates, and I don't mean Johnny
      Depp kind of pirates. The whole "CSS drives
      competition" line is complete crap, and if the
      guy who said it really believes it, then he
      needs to snort less cocaine. There really isn't
      much in the way of legal DVD copying software,
      is there? Either software is like Nero and
      won't touch a CSS'd disc, or it's an app that's
      already been banned so getting a court order
      for them to stop distributing software.The code
      has been available on T-shirts since 1999;
      Hollywood can only be holding their ground on

      RealDVD was about as good as a compromise as
      you were going to get. With other more capable
      apps out there, RealDVD was only going to sell
      to consumers who more likely than not bought
      the DVD anyway. Since the files were tied to a
      single computer anyway, they'd be useless on
      P2P networks and thus we end up with what
      amounts to the closest thing to a compromise
      available. As such, users looking to do the
      task (and we know that there were at least
      2,500 of them) are now aware that it's
      possible, and in an open book world, it's
      trivial to find out how.
      Hollywood gave up some control for no control,
      thinking that we'd opt for the latter. So
      clueless lol.
    • I've hated Real everysince..

      the days when they started and put invasive code all over your computer, and finally got busted as spyware back in the Win'98/ME days!

      The first thing I did when I got my new W2K PC was nuke it clear off the HDD!!!

      I cussed them everytime I had to use Revo uninstaller to get their crap off my clients machines!
  • The ironic part

    RealNetworks is a "legit" company that basically ended up hosing their customers. There are a dozen purveyors of DVD decrypting software out there who are not "legit" in the eyes of the MPAA, but provide good products. More importantly they provide decent support for their users, how many "legit" software companies do that anymore??

    I have not one jot of sympathy for the media cartel who bribed Congress into passing DMCA. Listening to them complain is like listening to a Mafia boss complain about how "Bingo night" at the local church cuts into his numbers racket profits.
    terry flores
  • RE: RealNetworks kills RealDVD to settle Hollywood lawsuits

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    • Hey, Maidi, go to hel!

      We were discussing RealNetworks, not where to buy Air Jordans.

      You are like a dog, pissing on everyone's leg. Go find a hole and bury yourself in it.
      • AMEN ! (nt)

  • Now they have proof of tortious interference...

    And can sue Hollywood. :) Can you imagine the fallout if they won? (laughing)
    • I'm suing you

      Your comment made me laugh so that I spewed coffee from my nose and it's all over
      my keyboard!

      See you in court, buddy :-)
  • RE: RealNetworks kills RealDVD to settle Hollywood lawsuits

    The only people who gained from this madness were the lawyers. The Hollywood moguls obviously haven't heard about libdvdccs - which is freely available on the internet and lets us play CSS protected DVDs from any region on our PCs using suitable media players.
    As for copying DVDs do a Google search......
    I am all for making piracy as difficult as possible - but lets be real about this.Hollywood need to realise that WE are the customers. They could start by scrapping DVD Region Coding (as some studios have done for Blue Ray). Its meaningless rubbish that most DVD players get around by simple hacking through their remotes anyway.
    • Keep spreading the word !!!

      DVD43 and DVDShrink, or NeroRecode work for me. Am I missing something in this story? Are they blocking one of MANY methods and achieving zippo ? If so lets just start spreading the word and let everyone know the products are here; and start hitting those prats where it hurts!

      ps Tried AnyDVD but couldn't see the point in it. Maybe for Blu-Ray but I've no PC reader.
  • RE: RealNetworks kills RealDVD to settle Hollywood lawsuits

    well yet another triuph for a technicality,
    real deserved the lawsuit for the technical violation of the css licence, but a better solution would of been to form an agreement with the media cartel to impose a specific way of doing things and provide a better product platform, if anyone at real or the various mpaa houses had a clue, they could of jumped ahead of the game, offered soemthing akin to itunes for movies uploaded all there content and instead of locking it to a single device like the ipod (very clever piece of junk) they could of simply installed a drm signature into the file so it wont play on a system thats not registered (this would allow for external media drives to be used for the download and playback) would remove the physical disk conscept, and thus piracy, streamline profits and mainstream there access to the general public, of course consumers would expect a price reduction, the dvd/bd industry would die off and people would loose there jobs however there would be more direct funding for the mpaa so a much larger profit margin, the whole system could be used as the sole distribution method for all films a few weeks after films left the box office (removing the urge for piracy) and all those good arguments. not to mention the whole setup could be flexible enough that one pc = 1 account = 1 registered device, allow the purchased content to be downloaded when required, and the registered device to be unregistered.

    they so missed there chances on this whole fiaasco the whole disk concept is out of date, networked home media players are the way ahead, and even simple systems like steam are better than copiable physical products.
    css was a problem for about 4 weeks for people serious about making copies, most of hte law suits only affect distribution inside the countries that agreed to the various dmca regulations, region free dvd players were available before region encoding was mainstream css ignor was an "illegal mod" patch made for nero back in 2006 and re-released everytime a new version of nero came out, in fact given that right now you can go online and buy any one of 30 different products from overseas digital vendors, download and start up a copy factory the whole point of there lawsuit was to make a "not in our back yard mate" statement to those they cant touch legally.

    no the dmca was a poor iteration, contradicts several previous laws which remain unamended, and is legall unenforcable against a private citizen who acts without gain or imoral reasoning.

    licencing laws otoh are enforcable but while the stupid idea of not being able to make copies of the product you already own (on a hdd or onto another disk) there will be a market for the not so kosher software which will see money continue to flow out of the west and into the developing world and quite likley into the pockets of the very criminals and terrorists people so despise for there despicable actions, then again who needs software to coppy a disk when for $1200 usd anyone can walk into a store purchase a stand alone dvd duplicator and produce near perfect copies of anythng they like (those systems dont remove css they just copy the entire disk as is) in batches (number per batch is dictated by the duplicator version bought) and theres no lawsuits preventing the sale of those machines which are known to be used by various pirate distributers.