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Friday, April 24, 2009

Interesting Court Case: RealNetworks vs. the MPAA

The New York Times has a great piece today on a court case that begins in San Francisco today, over the issue of whether you have the right to take a DVD that you own and store a digital copy of that content on your own computer.

From Brad Stone's piece:

    The case is ostensibly about RealDVD, a $30 software program that allows users to save digital copies of Hollywood DVDs to their computers — a capability the movie industry strenuously objects to, worrying that it will stimulate piracy and undermine the budding market for digital downloads.

    But the outcome of the trial, set against the backdrop of plummeting DVD sales, could also have more far-reaching effects on the future capabilities of the DVD player — a device connected to millions of television sets.

    Before it started making RealDVD software for computers, Real was also developing DVD-saving software that it hoped to license to manufacturers of DVD players, according to the company’s executives and legal filings in the case.

    That software, which the company refers to by its internal name, Facet, would allow companies like Sony, Samsung and Toshiba to sell DVD players capable of making digital copies of all discs, even movie DVDs that have anticopying software, called C.S.S.

    The owners of those devices could save copies of their DVDs to watch later — much as people use digital video recorders like TiVo to save live television programs.

Here's some earlier CinemaTech coverage of the suit, filed last October.

This is just the latest in a line of cases like Sony Corp. vs. Universal (the Betamax case) and MGM vs. Grokster... and the outcome will be important.

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