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RealNetworks, Film Industry Headed To Court 173

netbuzz writes "Apparently tired of waiting to be sued by the movie studios over its new DVD-to-PC copying software, RealNetworks this morning announced it will file a preemptive lawsuit in an attempt to authoritatively establish that the product does not infringe on copyright restrictions. Within an hour or so, the Motion Picture Association of America said it would have a litigation announcement of its own this afternoon."
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RealNetworks, Film Industry Headed To Court

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  • by the_humeister ( 922869 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @12:48PM (#25206203)

    You want Real Networks to win. If they win, everyone (but the MPAA) wins. If the MPAA wins, everyone else loses.

  • by lysergic.acid ( 845423 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @12:58PM (#25206335) Homepage

    does RealNetworks' DVD copying software _charge users $20_ for burning DVDs playable on multiple computers (still limited to a maximum of 5)?

    how can they purport to be a champion of consumer rights/fair use when they're charging users to burn copies of their own DVDs and restricting users from playing these copies from more than 5 computers?

    and who exactly are users paying the $20 to for being able to play their copies on more than one computer if not the MPAA or film makers? they actually have the galls to charge users for an additional license fee on works that they don't hold the rights to, and then they're turning around and saying that they're defending fair use rights? what a load of BS.

    consumers should be allowed to make backups of their purchases without DRM and usage restrictions. they shouldn't have to pay for the right to make DVD copies that are playable on multiple computers, much less pay RealNetworks for that right.

  • by R2.0 ( 532027 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @12:59PM (#25206351)

    There's a quote from Henry Kissinger regarding the Iran-Iraq War that is apropos: "The only problem with this war is that only one side can lose."

  • Re:Whuh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skye16 ( 685048 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @01:12PM (#25206533)

    I've heard of it before. It has to do when someone is threatening you with a lawsuit, but not following through. Rather than let that threat of a lawsuit affect your stock price, allowing the fear of it to affect your strategery, etc, it's best to just demand the court's rule and get it over with.

    Essentially, it's calling in a game of poker. Only rather than letting the cards do the talking, you're letting the judge settle it.

  • by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @01:14PM (#25206559) Journal
    They're charging $20 for the software. You've never heard of anyone paying for software?
  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @01:19PM (#25206649) Homepage

    I think it's more that if you're 100% sure you're going to be sued anyway, you might as well be the one to take this to court yourself. It makes your filing the first impression in the case, I'm not sure if it gives you advantages to what court will hear it but maybe, and it conveys a sense of "Yes, we know what we're doing and it's not illegal" as opposed to most that get sued are squirming a little over being dragged to court. I don't think they ever expected the MPAA not to sue.

  • by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @01:20PM (#25206657)

    It is a bit like politics. I know all the politicians have alterior motives. I know that they are just doing this because the publicity will help them. But, I would be foolish not to support them when the outcome of their publicity stunt would be in my favor.

    Or this scenario:

    Victim: *getting punched in the face by hoodlum A*
    Hoodlum B: It is wrong to punch him in the face, I'm calling the cops.
    Hoodlum A: You punched him last week and I didn't call the cops.
    Victim: Yes, I agree, that would be hypocritical, therefore I would not want you to call the police.

    I may not like someone, and I may not like their past actions, and their present actions may be hypocritical based on their past actions, but if what they are doing now is what is right, then it is really foolish to reject the message because you don't like the messenger.

  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @01:32PM (#25206823) Homepage Journal

    If they win, everyone (but the MPAA) wins.

    Actually, the MPAA wins too. They just don't understand it yet. The better your product works, the more valuable it is and the more of it you'll sell.

    It is in the MPAA's direct financial interest that as many people as possible, defeats the MPAA's DRM ASAP.

  • by dlsmith ( 993896 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @01:33PM (#25206841)
    The summary's "$20 per computer" really just refers to the cost of a software copy on each machine. If Apple sold iTunes, it would be the same: you have to buy a copy of the software for each machine on which you want to use it. Nothing surprising there.
  • by lysergic.acid ( 845423 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @01:34PM (#25206851) Homepage
    well, i guess that's a little better. but still, why should i have to pay RealNetworks for the right to play my DVD rips/backups on other computers? i can understand if they want to charge me for additional licenses for the DVD-burning application, but charging for access to my own backup data via DRM? who's digital rights are they managing here? certainly not theirs since they do not own the copyright on the DVDs being copied?
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @01:37PM (#25206889) Homepage

    Their motivation is commercial, but RealNetworks is nevertheless defending (some aspects of) fair use. What is very important is that RealNetworks is saying that content owners do not get to make the final determination of what is and is not fair use.

    The content owners have been overreaching on copyright by a large amount and for a long time now. I happen to think the current copyright law gives them far too much. But even saying "you only get to take what the law gives you and no more" would be an improvement on the present situation.

    Some nice action in the commercial marketplace to push the grabby MPAA back into the spacious terrain that's been staked out for them is a Good Thing.

  • Re:Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @01:56PM (#25207157) Homepage Journal

    *continues to use mencoder [] since it is maintained and community developed*

  • by maz2331 ( 1104901 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @02:24PM (#25207531)
    Cue South Park's portrayal of Johnnie Cochran and the Chewbacca defense in 5, 4, 3....

    Seriously though, all of these DRM schemes (Real, CSS itself, FairPlay, whatever) are attempts to tie the license to a copyrighted work to a specific device as opposed to a person . Therein lies the root of the entire problem.

    It's not so much how the content is encrpted or what it works with or doesn't. That's the big red herring in all of these arguments. The important question is "what do customers actually buy?"

    Are you buying a physical copy? That is the old model - go to the store, buy a disk, and it plays on all your devices. If it breaks or wears out, you buy another.

    Are you buying a license to use the work instead? If so, the customer's rights are seperate from the physical copies. See, for example, site licenses for software, where you may have one CD and 100 licenses that can be moved from device to device as needed.

    The whole idea behind these DRM schemes is an attempt to sell copies under the "old model" when the market is demanding the second, and is enabled by current technology such that it's now feasible for things to work that way. Indeed, it appears that the *AA are really trying to combine the worst aspects of both models to create a "third way" that really boils down to rent-seeking instead of sales. In other words, content is never purchased, but is merely rented.

    The solution is a model where the works are licensed to an individual. The *AA could easily provide a "registration service" for specific works that could be referred to if a question as to licensing ever arose.

    Copyright is not per se a bad thing at all, but the abuse of it to generate repeat sales of the same works to the same individual IS flat-out evil.

  • Re:Preemptive? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xtifr ( 1323 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @02:24PM (#25207539) Homepage

    Real looks to be pulling a publicity stunt.

    Possibly, or possibly they're trying to protect their own interests, much as Red Hat was when they preemptively sued SCO.

    to attract attention to their terrible company

    Ah yes, we all know that companies never change: IBM is still a hostile predator who refuses to acknowledge any software that wasn't developed in-house. They'd never in a million years consider supporting something as alien as Linux.

    The nineties called and want their whine back (as well as their stale "decade X called and wants its Y back" joke). :)

    I find it ironic when Windows users whine about Real (and in my experience, it's only Windows users that whine about Real). Everything they complain about in Real is among the reasons I stopped using ... er, actually, never really started using ... Windows. What's the difference between MS and Real? Real's main product is 90% open source, they actively support the community development efforts, their software has been bundled with Debian for years (at least, the 90% which meet the DFSG), they actively support Linux, and they seem to have made a massive effort to change their corporate culture since they hit rock-bottom in the early part of this decade (not unlike how IBM changed after bottoming out after the PS2 disaster). But some people can't forget the fact that they once saw an ad ten years ago, so Real will be evil forever. Dumbasses! :)

  • Re:Hey look at me (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:03PM (#25208855)

    Who the hell uses RealPlayer for anything these days, besides those that don't know any better? (the same people that have 10 toolbars installed on their browser)

  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:24PM (#25209179) Journal

    1. Sometimes you just don't get a second chance to make a first impression. Cruel, maybe, but it just means that some of us have a working memory. If I put my finger into the flame once as a kid, I don't try it again. I don't go thinking, "well, maybe fire changed in the meantime." And if I got burned by a company once, maybe I won't give them a second chance either. Deal with it. They shouldn't have been dumbasses in the first place, if they can't take the consquences later.

    It's not just some discrimination against Real. If Anarchy Online was a festering pile of crap at launch, I don't go and reactivate my account every other month to see if they finally fixed it. I'm just not interested any more. There are alternatives. They had their one chance at my money, I don't owe them a second one. Etc. Same with Real. Plain and simple.

    And in the end, I find nothing wrong with that. If you could just completely erase _all_ consequences of past asshole behaviour, there would be no incentive to not be an asshole in the first place. If a company can try to be evil in one year, then just proclaim itself reformed and suffer no further inconvenience. It would, in fact, be outright stupid to _not_ try something evil, if it doesn't harm you more than a couple of months worth of sales. You try it and if it works, you strike it big, and if you don't, you just proclaim yourself reformed and good. I don't like that prospect. I quite like it that pissing off your customers can haunt you long term. Keeps other fucktards from trying to be evil.

    2. I don't buy the whole "suddenly they're non-evil" crap anyway. Hello? We're talking about yet another company pushing a crap DRM.

    And in this particular case I have no sympathy for them either. If they had offered a non-DRM-ed way to rip your movies to, say, MPEG, I'd even be on their side. Yay for whoever sticks it to MPAA. But they're just trying to replace one crap DRM with their own crap DRM, and an expensive one at that. It's not even _instead_ of the MPAA DRM. Now I pay the DVD tax once when I buy the DVD, and have to pay Real extra to play my backup on any other machine. Hello? Even skipping the financial aspect, it's a more retardedly draconian DRM than what it replaces. A DVD doesn't forbid me from taking it out of one computer and playing it on another.

    But that financial aspect is what bothers me the most, actually, because that's where they lose any moral high ground imaginable. They're adding their own DRM crap to someone else's work, and extorting some money to be able to play it. I see it no different morally from the guy selling burned DVDs to profit from someone else's work. It's not some great strike for freedom, it's yet another sleazeball trying to add his own shackles on that chain and milk it too.

    So basically I don't see them as really changed at all. It's the same sleazeballs trying another angle at still being sleazeballs.

    And sometimes supporting Linux doesn't make everything else right. E.g., if I used Linux to empty your bank account, it would still be a crime. And some evil sleazeballs who support Linux are still evil and sleazeballs. Sometimes the enemy of my enemy still isn't my friend.

    And sometimes "90% open source" is just the sweetener for the other 10% which are a DRM as evil as anyone else's. And in this case they're strapping it on someone else's work.

  • Re:No No No (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CorporateSuit ( 1319461 ) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @05:16PM (#25209987)
    Might I add that yes, I do know there's a difference between outright "Copy Protection" and "DRM" and that some labels use one while other labels use the other. To which I say: "Calling it 'copy protection' in most circumstances is confusing, as it should be 'obfuscation' instead -- if that's what the desired result is. Copy protection should only be applied for making direct copies, rather than preventing the translation or transfer from one format to the other." Topically, in the case of Real, that seems to be what the MPAA is on about.

    IMO, The point they SHOULD be attacking is that Real is asking to make money off these translated copies (which they have no right to do), but Real can counter that by saying they are only charging for the translation fee, not for the actual copy of the media. MPAA says "that's not what you're advertising" Then the fencing can begin!
  • by cyclomedia ( 882859 ) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @06:32AM (#25216073) Homepage Journal

    I too can see a glaring error in this: The idea that if someone watched or listend to a piece of MAFIAA media without paying it equates to a lost sale. I, for example, watched Spiderman 3 without spending a cent. Did I sneak into a cinema? or watch a Camcorder bootleg? Or watch a ripped DVD? Or download it via P2P? No, none of those things, I went to my brothers house and watched his Blu-ray copy on his PS3 via his HD TV. So not only did the MAFIAA media cartel lose a film sale, Sony lost out on a PS3 sale, and the HD TV was purchased second hand, too, so that company lost both mine AND my brother's sale.

    So where do you draw the line? If we go with the MAFIAA model sony and the TV manufacturer should be able to come after me for pirating their hardware - after all I used them without purchasing a licence. Now we all know that hardware is physically sold and not licensed but the laws based on circumventing DRM would have us believe that once someone has purchased a PS3 it's still somehow Sony's. So again, where does the line lie?

    I'll tell you where the line is: Unless they insist on a scanner in each and every media player and every tv that detects who's physically sat in front of it and compares their IR signatures against an online database of licensees and refuses to play said shiney disc if the database is offline or your cat is in the room then then their argument that "free-MAFIAA-media-consumption == piracy" is a lie. It's FUD, plain and simple. The problem is that they honestly seem to believe that the ultimate and only fair (for them) solution is a per-person per-view/listen/read/review/talk-about-with-friends/critisise or quote fee.

    To my mind the solution is simple, cut out the MAFIAA whilst it's still legal to produce and distribute your own creations without a "copyright distributor" license, really. With the media cartels taking over the ISPs and Sony producing the living room hardware do you really believe that the end result will be that you'll be ALLOWED to record and burn a CD of your own music and have it play in any old CD player, after all, how else can they close the analogue hole without legislating total control? If you could record your own music then in theory you could record unlicensed cover versions!

    The idea that you can sing a couple of songs and live off the resulting millions for the rest of you life is a lie. The idea that you can take a cartoon of a mouse drawn by people who are long dead and ethically rake cash in for it is a lie.

    I too once dreamed of "getting signed" and getting rich, of having John Peel play my music on the radio and of doing a gig on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. Now that (dodgy 90's sampler) music I created is Create Commons licenced, you can find it on legaltorrents under the psudonym Cycloid.

    One day soon I'm hoping someone will get a big name sponsor to fund their bit-torrent only TV show and cause the revolution to crank up a gear. It just needs to be that: Soon.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay