RealNetworks and Hollywood Spar Over DVD Ripping

05/25/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Starting late last year, movie studios began peddling premium-priced DVDs that come with the right to download a digital copy of the movie onto a computer. Now a federal judge will weigh in on whether the studios are the only ones who can legally make those copies, or if other companies can jump on the bandwagon. 3

On Friday, the showdown over the issue will take place in federal court in San Francisco, where an army of lawyers representing Hollywood will argue that RealNetworks Inc.'s DVD "ripper" is an illegal digital piracy tool. The company, in turn, will say the $29.99 software that allows DVDs to be easily copied to computer hard drives is legitimate. Their lawyers argue the software violates a federal law known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that makes software and other tools that enable digital piracy illegal. 1

RealNetworks maintains its RealDVD software is a convenience to consumers who can copy DVDs to a laptop for easy disc-free playback. Late last year seven major Hollywood studios filed a lawsuit against RealNetworks seeking a permanent ban on sales of RealDVD. The court granted lead plaintiff Universal Pictures a temporary ban on sales of RealDVD until at least this month's court proceedings. 2

  1. Hollywood's DVD Court Battle to Commence (ABC News)
  2. RealNetworks vs. Hollywood in DVD 'Ripping' Case Starts (PC World)
  3. RealNetworks and Hollywood Spar Over DVD Ripping (WSJ)