RealNetworks' DVD backup software ruled illegal

RealNetworks fought the movie industry, and the movie industry won. According to the Associated Press, a federal judge has upheld an injunction barring sales of the firm's RealDVD software on the grounds that it breaks copyright law.

Not just any federal judge, either. U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel just happens to be the same judge who shut down the Napster file-sharing service nine years ago. In her latest ruling, she reportedly says RealDVD "violates federal anti-piracy law and also goes against a contract RealNetworks signed to gain keys to unscramble DVDs."

Released on September 30, 2008 for $29.99, RealDVD let users copy movies to their hard drives for on-demand playback. RealNetworks claims this falls under the fair-use doctrine, and it notes that the software neither breaks copy protection nor allows users to distribute their backups. Movie studios, on the other hand, claim they have "the legal right to retain complete control over how content they've created is distributed."

As the AP points out, studios are also particularly uncomfortable with the practice of renting, ripping, and returning DVDs, which software like RealDVD facilitates.

The original injunction barring sales of the software came on October 3, 2008, and it will hold "until the case is resolved." Reporteldy, Judge Patel believes "the movie industry is likely to prevail in its legal battle with RealNetworks."

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