Real Networks has been banned from selling a program that allows individuals from making backup copies of their DVD collections. The judge making the ruling has stated that the ability of a user to make the copy is not illegal, but the making of a program to do so is.
Is this not somewhat like saying that travel across oceans is not illegal, but using a ship to do the task makes you a target for prosecution? (pretend, for a moment their are no airplanes)
from the Guardian (UK)
American software company RealNetworks has been banned from selling a program that lets people make copies of their DVDs, in a US court decision that could have far-reaching implications.
After a year-long case over the legality of the company’s RealDVD software, a district court in San Francisco ruled that Real had violated America’s copyright laws and granted a preliminary injunction against Real to prevent it selling the program.
The ruling stops Real from selling RealDVD, a piece of software that allows to make back-up copies of their movie discs and save them to their computer. Although free DVD ripping software is readily available online, Real raised the hackles of Hollywood executives in 2008 because it paid for a license to the DVD Copy Control Association, believing that it could be interpreted to allow the services they wanted to provide.
In her ruling, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel said that the complex meant that it was not illegal for consumers to copy their own DVDs – just illegal to produce a program that allowed them to do 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.”
The case was brought by the Motion Picture Association of America – the consortium representing Hollywood studios that has become notoriously litigious in the face of unauthorised downloading and online file sharing.
The MPAA, of course, hailed the judgement, because it once again has managed to obtain another (huge) blow against the concept of fair use; instead obfuscating the issue with ideas that every person who buys such a program will go into business as a DVD distributor.
What the boneheads at the MPAA don’t seem to realize is that for many it will change nothing, because, in the same vein as the one that made this country great, Yankee ingenuity will kick in, and the people who want to will find ways and means to get things copied. More than that, the same people who might have been law abiding makers of a single, backup copy of a DVD, will now turn into what the MPAA and other entities like it should have worried about - a really annoyed-to-the-breaking-point customer, who will make as many copies as he can, spreading the copyrighted material about, simply to spite the mendacity of the MPAA’s intent.
Later in that Guardian article, a lawyer from the Electronic Frontier Foundation stated that Real Networks will probably appeal the ruling, which will incur much more cost, which, of course, is passed along to the potential buyers. Once again, we are made the target of the MPAA. It seems that the utter greed of this organization knows no limits.