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RealNetworks Trial Starts

24 Apr, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

Studio lawyers began their arguments against RealNetworks Inc. April 24 in a San Francisco federal court, arguing the company’s RealDVD copying software violates federal digital piracy laws.

The Associated Press reported that a lawyer for Walt Disney Co. opened the studios’ arguments by telling the judge — Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, who in 2000 handed down a landmark ruling against Napster — that RealNetworks’ product was built around illegal technology, allowing users to bypass DVD encryption that prevents copying.

“One is not supposed to copy DVDs’ and that's in fact what RealDVD does,” lawyer Bart Williams said, the AP reported. “Real’s objective in all of this is to make money off the studios’ investments without paying for it.”

RealNetworks filed a preemptive lawsuit against the major studios and the DVD Copy Control Association, seeking court approval for its RealDVD software. The studios in turn sought a temporary injunction, which was granted by Patel shortly after RealDVD went on sale in early October. The software cost $30 and basically allowed users to make their own digital file of DVD content and save that data to their PCs

The studios are arguing that RealDVD can’t differentiate between a rented or purchased DVD, opening the door for “rent, rip and return” abuses.

In February the Motion Picture Association of America accused RealNetworks of destroying documents involved with the suit, and was stonewalling efforts to gather evidence against the Seattle-based company.

“The evidence here is that Real actively destroyed documents,” an MPAA court filing read.

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