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Judge Rules Against RealDVD 407

mattOzan writes "Judge Marilyn Hall Patel was unswayed by RealNetworks' defense of their product under the Fair Use Doctrine, as she declared RealDVD illegal and barred its distribution. As she said in her ruling, 'So while it may well be fair use for an individual consumer to store a backup copy of a personally owned DVD on that individual's computer, a federal law has nonetheless made it illegal to manufacture or traffic in a device or tool that permits a consumer to make such copies.' She also said RealNetworks was aware of the conflict between their agreement and their plans for the software: 'Real did not elect to return (or destroy, with appropriate certification) the CSS General Specifications after it received them, as Real had a right to do under the agreement... This behavior indicates that Real understood it to be bound by the CSS General Specifications as well as the other technical specifications received after execution of the CSS License Agreement.'"
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Judge Rules Against RealDVD

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  • by Shin-LaC ( 1333529 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @09:43AM (#29037373)
    If it's legal to store backup copies of your discs, but you can't legally buy a tool to make them, it seems that the only way to exercise your fair use rights is to download backup copies from BitTorrent and similar services.
  • by BeardedChimp ( 1416531 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @09:55AM (#29037535)
    If it's a "DMCA violation to distribute products that enable consumers to override copyright owner preferences against unauthorized copying", then does that mean that repositries that distribute libcss2 are breaking the law?
  • Re:Since when (Score:3, Interesting)

    by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @10:20AM (#29037911) Homepage Journal

    Does a contract provision trump a Federal law?

    Since the ones writing the contracts were allowed to contribute to the campaigns of the justices who later rule on them. []

  • by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @10:21AM (#29037929) Homepage Journal

    More robust media would actually mean that the media in question should come with it's own backup, in a burnable format so that a consumer could make a duplicate of the DVD/BlueRay/CD/etc *when* that physical media gets scratched or damaged in such a way as to make it non-playable on the intended media reader.

    If consumers want to rent a movie or music there are options available. If they want to purchase a movie with a lifetime license to view said movie then they deserve either a) lifetime warranty on the physical media or b) a means to backup and duplicate the media to ensure continued viability of their purchase.

    Anything less should be a violation of consumers rights and a violation of the law.

    Yes it is a burden the media companies may not like. OTOH they do profit from the sale of the media on these portable yet fragile formats and therefore assume the risk themselves out of business interest.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @10:37AM (#29038137)


    Every time we buy their product, we give them the power to fuck us in the ass. That's exactly where our money is going. If that is acceptable, then don't complain.

    No illusions. This is the only thing that frightens them and it is the only thing that will stop their abuse.

  • by blackfrancis75 ( 911664 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @10:42AM (#29038207)
    This is a really strange reversal of the laws that govern Marijuana:
    In many countries it's illegal to smoke marijuana, but legal to sell the tools to do so (Head Shops).
    In America, it's legal to make copies of your DVDs, but illegal to sell tools to do so..

    Kind of makes a mockery of the law, doesn't it?
  • by DarkBlackFox ( 643814 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @10:47AM (#29038289)
    So then the obvious solution is to take this to the people who do make the law- Congress. Write letters showing how blatantly contradictory the law is in this case. Ask them how it's possible to exercise fair use with a law preventing distribution of the tools allowing fair use, citing the RealDVD case. Ask for suggestions on how to legally time shift a DVD for watching on a netbook, or how to make a backup of a $30 DVD so you can still enjoy what you paid for when it gets dropped/scratched/eaten/rolled over by an office chair.
  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @10:52AM (#29038377)

    After a ruling like this, congress should be proactive and fix the law. But they won't. Why? 'cause they could give two shits about making things right. They're busy trying to make themselves look good. So they're going to be 100% focused on "fixing" health care.

  • by lomedhi ( 801451 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:04AM (#29038559)
    What if the tool is made outside the US? As far as I know, production and distribution of such a tool is still legal here in Canada. When you say there is no law against obtaining the tool, does that cover importing it?
  • by mutu310 ( 1546975 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:06AM (#29038607)
    Or perhaps record labels and software companies should be forced by law to send replacement CDs/DVDs for free if you mail them a scratched disc with a self-addressed envelope. Of course, this has its cons though, such as a very good replica fooling the company that the disc is original, and they would send an original one back.
  • by divisionbyzero ( 300681 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:27AM (#29038879)

    The judge said it all. We are entitled to Fair Use but any attempt to exercise that right is illegal. There are two ways that this can change: Congress or the Supreme Court. I have little faith in either.

  • WTF (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hesaigo999ca ( 786966 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:52AM (#29039279) Homepage Journal

    I find the ruling really missing the point. When you sell the dvd copying software, it allows a user to make a backup copy of their dvd, which they already own. The problem is when THAT copy is given or sold to someone else other then the owner.

    I think they should effectively come up with a better way to watermark the copy of the dvds and send a bot to monitor torrents and such, then the watermark (of the original dvd) could then be used to track down the owner, and say if 20,000 copies showed up on the net or on the black market, you could easily know who was responsible.

    However, it is easier for every one, including this useless judge, to just point the finger at the person allowing legit copying to not happen. Smoking pot is legal, selling pot is illegal, so the only way to ge your pot is through the gov.
    Copying a dvd is legal, selling the dvd copying software is illegal, so does that mean owning the dvd copying software is also illegal or using it...I am interested in seeing how it pans out, and what sort of precedent this case sets!

  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:03PM (#29039485) Homepage

    More robust media would actually mean that the media in question should come with it's own backup, in a burnable format so that a consumer could make a duplicate of the DVD/BlueRay/CD/etc *when* that physical media gets scratched or damaged in such a way as to make it non-playable on the intended media reader.

    Drop the DRM and the media already comes with a copy that can be copied for backup purposes: the original copy.

    Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but it seems like you're saying that someone should invent a kind of media that comes with its own second copy, which consumers can access when, and only when, the original media becomes unreadable. So when my first copy becomes unreadable, I can get access to my second copy. What about when my second copy becomes unreadable? Do I get a third? Is it infinitely recursive so that an infinite number of copies are stored on this medium?

    And what's the point of trying to make it more complicated? The only thing that denies people the right to make unlimited copies of media which they own for any purpose they like is copyright. Copyright was designed to prevent publishers from profiting from exploiting authors, and therefore has exemptions that allow people to make backups of the media they own. Movie studios don't have any particular right to deny you your right to back up your movies.

  • by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:15PM (#29039713) Journal

    Alternatively, they would charge the person in the US even though they live elsewhere and then, on any visit to the US, the person would be arrested and tossed in jail.

    FTFY. []

  • Re:No (Score:3, Interesting)

    by macemoneta ( 154740 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:36PM (#29040043) Homepage

    You're right; you can only do this on DVDs after the title key has been presented.

    However, if I start to play the DVD and quit, I can then copy it. The copying software itself obviously is not decrypting/circumventing anything, so why is it covered under DMCA?

  • by R2.0 ( 532027 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:48PM (#29040245)

    "Basically, she's saying that Congress wrote this law, and it's not unconstitutional, so she can't strike it down. If you want to change it, contact your legislator. Don't biatch at her."

    Yes, that's what she is saying. What she didn't say is that the law fundamentally conflicts with previously established and adjudicated law. If we have a right to make a backup copy of a DVD, how can it then be illegal to make and distribute the means to back it up? In Miranda, the Supreme court established that a right is useless, and therefore abridged, if there is no means to execute that right.

    The media companies have every legal right to make it as hard as possible for me to copy their material; but Congress does not have the power to enforce that business decision under the color of law. Either copying DVD's under fair use is a right, (which makes her ruling incorrect), or copying DVD's under fair use is NOT a right, in which she should have had the balls to rule that way and take the appellate beat down.

  • by VGPowerlord ( 621254 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @01:13PM (#29040603)

    No, no, no... lifetime warranty probably wouldn't be legal.

    Instead, it should be under warranty for as long as the work it's a copy of is under copyright... ...which just happens to be longer than a lifetime these days.

  • by dirtydog ( 51697 ) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @05:20PM (#29044135)

    What if the court had said in another case:

    "We understand that the defendant has a right to speech, but as federal law has made the removal of 'speech restraint devices' illegal, the defendant will have to leave the muzzle on.

  • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @01:42AM (#29048037)

    The MPAA/RIAA will only lose influence when the American dollar finally takes a dump.

    That happened. Last year, the US economy will not recover for a few years and probably never 100%.

    You are also vastly overestimating how much influence an American organisation has over the rest of the world. When it comes down to it protectionism will trump any international treaties. Despite how subversive the RIAA/MPIAA is other content industry organisations are moving away from them at the risk of becoming irrelevant in their own countries.

    CRIA is a joke, ARIA absolutely refuses to do anything so much so the RIAA created a new puppet organisation to do their bidding called Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) who had best be lube-ing up for when their law suit against iinet (Australian ISP) fails and it will fail. In Australia we have stupid deformation laws, this means when AFACT loses in court iinet will be able to sue them out of existence as well as damaging the backing companies (for once a stupid law can do some good). There is a good reason that the ARIA and the RIAA have never tried suing downloaders in Australia and that is there is serious punishment if they cant prove their claims in a court of law. So if they withdraw charges the other party still gets to sue for damages.

    Sweden is as much an example against your point then for your point. Sweden's ruling party (Social Democrats I think) became very unpopular in the last election after the pirate bay ruling, I know a few Swede's and their response to this is, why should Sweden be policing for American corporations. Sweden has many political parties, majority decisions are made by forming coalitions so it's not difficult to knock out the particular party that is forcing a decision on the coalition (Swede's feel free to correct me if I've gotten anything wrong here). The two party systems in Australia, US, UK is more difficult to knock out the extremists as they use the moderates as shields.

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