RealNetworks Files Antitrust Claims Against Hollywood

The media player software maker's lawsuit reads like a conspiracy plot as it's impossible for any organizations other than the studios to sell DVD-copying software.
RealNetworks, which is waging a court battle against several Hollywood studios over its DVD-copying software, has filed antitrust claims against the movie studios, accusing them of trying to prevent other companies from building products that let consumers legally copy DVDs for personal use.

RealNetworks filed the accusations Wednesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, where it's battling an attempt by the studios to extend a court order barring the company from selling its DVD-copying RealDVD until after the legality of software is settled. The Motion Picture Association of America has sued RealNetworks accusing it of copyright violations. In addition, the DVD Copy Control Association, which licenses copyright-right protection technology for the MPAA, has joined the suit, accusing RealNetworks of violating its license with RealDVD.

RealNetworks filed its latest allegations in preparation for closing arguments in the current court battle over the temporary restraining order against RealNetworks. Closing arguments are scheduled for May 21.

Within the 36-page court document, RealNetworks claims the studios and the DVD CCA have conspired to make it impossible for any organizations other than the studios to sell DVD-copying software. "Without this illegal cartel, Real and others would be able to compete to provide consumers with products to enable them to gain more value from their DVDs, without having to pay again to make a fair-use copy of the DVDs they have already purchased," a RealNetworks spokesman said in an e-mail.

Under the fair-use segment of the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act, people can legally copy movies and music for personal use. RealDVD, which costs $30, makes it possible to copy a DVD onto the hard drive of a laptop, but does not strip the copyright-protection technology on the DVD, according to RealNetworks. In addition, RealDVD adds another layer of protection that prevents the movie file from being opened on any device other than the one it was originally copied to.

As part of its latest filing, RealNetworks is asking the court to bar the movie studios and the DVD CCA from anti-competitive activity and for monetary damages that would be determined later.

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