DVD Copying Case Focuses on ‘Fair Use’

David Kravets, WIRED: Hollywood studios told a federal judge consumers have no right to make copies of their DVDs. The U.S. courts, however, have never squarely answered whether that was true, a legal vacuum that might be answered in the Motion Picture Association of America’s lawsuit against RealNetworks.

The MPAA said there was no fair use defense to copying personal CDs. The MPAA presented that argument as it demanded a federal judge to continue barring sales of a DVD copying software that RealNetworks briefly put on the market last year. The MPAA also
said RealDVD was based on the work of Ukrainian hackers.

The litigation represents Hollywood’s worries that RealDVD, the software at issue, might ruin the market for encrypted DVDs, as piracy wrecked the market for CDs, which are not encrypted.

“One is not supposed to copy the DVD and that is exactly what RealDVD does,” MPAA attorney Bart Williams told U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel in a packed courtroom.

About 3,000 copies of RealDVD were sold last fall before Patel blocked distribution ahead of this hearing.

Still, RealNetworks told Patel that the Hollywood studios were acting like a cartel and threatening to disrupt technologies that compete with the studios’ latest marketing tool — DigitalCopy. Under DigitalCopy, the studios sell DVDs along with a digital download of a movie.