RealNetworks DVD copying software on trial

RealNetworks has said it wants to help increase DVD sales by allowing people to copy their movie discs. Hollywood studios say that idea will only hurt their already struggling business. The two sides are now squaring off in federal court.

The case is ostensibly about RealDVD, a $30 software program that allows users to save digital copies of Hollywood DVDs to their computers — a capability the movie industry strenuously objects to, worrying that it will stimulate piracy and undermine the budding market for digital downloads.

That software, which the company refers to by its internal name, Facet, would allow companies like Sony, Samsung and Toshiba to sell DVD players capable of making digital copies of all discs, even rental movie DVDs that have anticopying software. The owners of those devices could save copies of their DVDs to watch later — much as people use digital video recorders like TiVo to save live television programmes.

Real has built a prototype of a Facet device that runs on the Linux operating system, which is used in many digital set-top boxes. The device can hold about 70 movies, which take up to 20 minutes to copy.

The major studios through the Motion Picture Association of America, won a temporary injunction in October that required Real Networks to stop selling the RealDVD software.

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