DVD software backups challenged in U.S. court

Fri Apr 24, 2009 6:21pm EDT
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By David Lawsky

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Hollywood movie companies told a federal judge on Friday that RealNetworks violated copyright law by selling software that allows people to make backups of their DVDs on a home computer.

U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel convened the first-day arguments by the movie companies and the DVD Copy Control Association that "RealDVD" software should be banned.

"In the end, this case will be about how RealNetworks tries to take money that is not theirs," argued Bart Williams for the movie companies.

At one point, he said some RealNetworks code came from Ukrainian hackers, but a company spokesman said none was in the product.

If RealNetworks wins, it could establish a beachhead for software that transfers movies from DVDs to hard drives, opening the door for many companies to sell devices that can store and organize movies from DVDs.

RealNetworks began selling "RealDVD" for $30 at the end of September, but only a few thousand copies were out the door before it wound up in court. Judge Patel temporarily halted sales in October.

Now the judge is considering a preliminary injunction against the Seattle-based software company. RealNetworks lawyer Len Cunningham argued that the studios had their own products which provide for backups, called digitalcopy.

"They have aggressively marketed it," he said. "The threat (to Hollywood) is for legitimate competition."   Continued...