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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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RE: Devils Advocate Time
By mindless1 on 10/1/2008 6:33:13 PM , Rating: 2
What prevented people from xeroxing a book, duping a cassette or VHS tape, CD, etc?

It is unreasonable to outlaw something that has legit uses just because a minority might use it for illegal activities. Same applies to driving a car, owning a gun, even a spoon can be a deadly weapon.

RE: Devils Advocate Time
By Jimbo1234 on 10/1/2008 10:50:42 PM , Rating: 2
Those are all (except the CD) analog copies that deteriorate with each successive copy. However, back in the VHS days there was copy protection as well. If you copied a tape, it would flicker bright to dark constantly.

Here's my solution. Make rental movies laden with all the DRM you want. Hell, rent it permanently installed into a DVD player if you want to. Make retail copies with no DRM.

Want to stop piracy? DRM will not do that. Not making any movies will.

RE: Devils Advocate Time
By kelmon on 10/2/2008 10:41:41 AM , Rating: 2
a minority might use it for illegal activities

The thing is, if the process of making a copy is both cheap, quick and easy, what makes you think it would be a minority making copies? I honestly don't want to sound like I am defending DRM but the fact of the matter is that the digital age has made copying media so easy that a lot of people do it rather than purchase it legally. Rental ripping for private use would be rife - you get a "full" copy of the movie at a fraction of the price and your chances of being arrested is practically zero since you won't be sharing the film online. With the exception of the audio tape, "ripping" other forms of media in the examples you provided were either expensive or highly time consuming. Ripping a DVD and burning it is child's play, in comparison.

This is really devil's advocate stuff since I do think it sucks that fair use is be impinged. I'm probably guilty of helping to promote the cause of DRM because I have, in the past, copied tapes and ripped the tracks from a friend's CD. In this respect I have spoilt things for others. Sorry about that.

RE: Devils Advocate Time
By mindless1 on 10/2/2008 5:22:25 PM , Rating: 2
The thing is, we can't reasonably outlaw something because someone "could" commit a crime easily and cheaply. Who can't take a $3 knife and try to rob a convenient store?

Let's take speeding in a car for example. I suspect an order of magnitude more people speed in a car than illegally dupe their media for piracy purposes but do we make the means to speed illegal? Do we govern all cars to never be above the max legal speed limit? Which is easier, ripping a DVD or stepping down harder on a gas pedal?

Yet we do fine people for speeding, and so it should be if caught distributing media - about $100, not several thousands.

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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