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Movie studios revive the RIAA's "making a copy" equates to "stealing one copy" argument

The RIAA and music labels gained a bit more notoriety when one of its associates, Sony BMG's head of litigation Jennifer Pariser, remarked during a case, "When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." Making "a copy" of a purchased song is just "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy'."

Now the MPAA, which typically follows closely in the RIAA's footsteps, is suing software maker RealNetworks and making similar remarks.  In a similar mentality, which some say punishes the paying customer,
Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Studios, Warner Brothers, Columbia Pictures, the Walt Disney Company and Sony have all filed suit against the company, which claims it only wants to provide content owners with a means of backing up their DVDs.

Greg Goeckner, executive vice president and general counsel for the Motion Picture Association of America, says that users shouldn't get to copy their DVDs -- even those they own.  He states, "RealDVD should be called StealDVD.  RealNetworks knows its product violates the law, and undermines the hard-won trust that has been growing between America’s moviemakers and the technology community."

Seattle-based RealNetworks found itself targeted after it released its RealDVD software, available for $30.  RealNetworks is no rogue operator -- rather it’s the software giant behind the RealPlayer software and the Rhapsody music subscription service, the second largest legitimate online music retailer.  Nonetheless, it found itself the target of the MPAA's aggressive campaign, which seeks to block any private DVD reproduction. 

RealNetworks is standing tall against the MPAA and blasted back in a tersely worded statement Tuesday.  The statement read, "We are disappointed that the movie industry is following in the footsteps of the music industry and trying to shut down advances in technology, rather than embracing changes that provide consumers with more value and flexibility for their purchases."

RealDVD conforms to all Hollywood’s rules on DVD protection by encrypting the digital copies.  This is intended to prevent filesharing.  Still, studios claim the program violates the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, an all-reaching act used for everything from web takedowns to filesharing cases.  The studios say that by overriding anti-copying mechanisms on the DVD, RealDVD is breaking the law.  The studios are seeking an injunction to prevent the program's sales.

A frustrated RealNetworks fired back with a countersuit of its own against the studios in a federal court in San Francisco on Tuesday.

This case will like bear major ramifications on the movie industry, and DailyTech will be following it closely.



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By wempa on 10/1/2008 12:37:27 PM , Rating: 2
People are confused over how the CSS works. All of the video files (VOB files) are encrypted with CSS. You can copy them anywhere, to a hard drive if you like, but they are still encrypted. Decryption is accomplished by using a key that is created by data in the DVD lead-in area combined with a player key. For PCs, the player key is within the software playing the DVD. DVDs cannot be copied to recordable DVD, because the lead-in section is not-writable on recordable DVDs. So, if the encrypted VOBs were copied and the disc put into a DVD player, it would be missing part of what it needs to decrypt them. There is no way to do a perfect bit for bit copy because of the missing lead-in area. Therefore, the only way to copy a DVD to recordable one is to break the encryption. Now, it sounds like RealDVD is doing something different. If they aren't breaking CSS, then I'm guessing that they copy the VOBs and the data from the lead-in area to the HD. Then later on, they can use the software key to decrypt and play the video files.


By omnicronx on 10/1/2008 1:39:15 PM , Rating: 2
Your post is 100% correct, the confusion lies with the fact that RealDVD does not make a direct copy to a writable DVD, it merely copies the files to your hard drive. So the CSS encrypted VOB files are left untouched and the keys from the lead in are merely copied with it. As you said, there is no way to get around CSS if you plan on making a copy of the DVD, but it is possible to make a copy to the hard drive, which is the method RealDVD employs.


By wempa on 10/2/2008 12:36:33 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for clearing that up. That's what I figured it was doing. I just wanted to clear up the CSS confusion because I see some posts seemed to be implying that you can create an exact copy of a DVD, which is not possible.


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