Film industry shuts down RealDVD (for now)

A temporary injunction has at least temporarily stopped RealNetworks from distributing RealDVD, the company's new DVD-to-PC copying software that debuted last month at our DEMOfall 08 event and soon thereafter sparked a legal battle.

From the RealDVD Web site:

"Due to recent legal action taken by the Hollywood movie studios against us, RealDVD is temporarily unavailable. Rest assured, we will continue to work diligently to provide you with software that allows you to make a legal copy of your DVDs for your own use."

A judge's decision is expected Tuesday as to whether the injunction will remain in place while lawyers for RealNetworks and the Motion Picture Association of America argue the case, according to this story in NewTeeVee.

RealNetworks and the movie industry swapped lawsuit papers last week with the latter saying of the former's product: "RealNetworks' RealDVD should be called StealDVD."

RealNetworks has argued from the beginning that it has its legal bases covered here, leaning heavily on a courtroom victory scored in March 2007 by high-end home-entertainment center maker Kaleidescape, which had been sued by the DVD Copy Control Association. The group filed an appeal that decision in December.

As for the product itself, my colleague Keith Shaw offers this generally positive review, which also delves into how the technical and legal issues intertwine.

The judge's decision regarding the injunction will be an especially important one given that these cases tend to drag on for years. 

(Update: I contacted RealNetworks to see if the injunction would have any impact on those users who have already downloaded and paid for their copies of RealDVD. Here's what I got in reply: "The judge has also ordered us to refrain from speaking further to the press about this matter and we are complying with that order.")

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