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Judge Tosses RealDVD Antitrust Challenge

By : Erik Gruenwedel | Posted: 11 Jan 2010

While the CE world convened last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a U.S. District Court judge in San Francisco dismissed antitrust claims filed by Real Networks against Hollywood studios regarding its RealDVD copying software.

Judge Marilyn Patel Jan. 8 ruled that the studios, via the Motion Picture Association of America, do not purposely operate a cartel that disallows third party technological improvements in the distribution of movies.

Patel, last summer in the original copyright infringement case between the MPAA and Real Networks, found that RealDVD circumvented safeguards that control access to or copying of the studios’ copyrighted content on DVDs.

Real Networks had argued that any consumer who lawfully purchased a DVD movie had the right to save that DVD to a computer hard drive.

Patel, however, disagreed, saying Real Networks at no time was hindered from obtaining separate movie licenses from the studios for digital distribution.

“Any assertion by Real that the studios’ refusal to license the copying of DVDs caused an antitrust injury apart from the delay resulting from the injunctive relief is contradicted by Real’s assertions that it believed no license was necessary,” Patel wrote in the Jan. 8 ruling posted online.

The judge’s order effectively bars Real Networks from selling RealDVD in any form, including its Facet DVD player that can create and store DVD copies.

Seattle-based Real Networks in November filed an appeal with U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District in San Francisco stating that Patel applied an erroneous legal argument when granting an injunction against sales of RealDVD in August 2008.

The Ninth Circuit is considered one of the most liberal courts in the country. It famously ruled in favor of music file-sharing site Grokster when it was sued for copyright infringement by the music industry in the early 2000s.

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously overturned that decision in 2005.

Related Stories :

Judge Rules Against RealDVD
Real Networks Appealing DVD Copying Software Verdict
Real Networks Follows Through with DVD Copying Appeal


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