Advanced Television

RealNetworks battles studios

May 22, 2009

With judgement set to be made on the legality of RealNetworks' DVD copying software, RealNetworks has filed a new charge against the Hollywood studios, alleging they violated antitrust law by banding together to fight the video-copying software.

Real filed its amended complaint in a federal court in San Francisco. It claims that the six major studios have violated the Sherman Antitrust Act, the California Cartwright Act and the California Unfair Competition Law by collectively licensing their DVD encryption technology through the DVD Copy Control Asociation (DVD-CCA), of which the majors are all members.

The RealNetworks complaint maintains that the DVD-CCA will grant a Content Scramble System encryption licence to a company only if all of its members approve. The Content Scramble System (CSS) is the protection included on commercial DVDs to prevent copying. The DVD-CCA licenses CSS to hardware and software companies to manufacture DVDs.

RealNetworks was given a licence from the DVD-CCA for its RealDVD software, and RealNetworks argues that this makes the software legal since the DVD copy that the software makes also contains CSS copy protection. But the studios have argued in their suit against RealNetworks that the licence doesn't give RealNetworks the right to offer software that allows users to make backup copies of movies on DVD.

In its latest filing, Real is alleging that the studios are using CSS to maintain a monopoly and claims consumers have a "fair use" right to make a copy of DVDs they own.

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