RealNetworks Gives Up Fight Over Encryption Rights

After a two year, multimillion dollar legal battle with the Motion Picture Association of America, RealNetworks has decided to give up. This piece from Wired describes the battle over RealNetworks’ RealDVD product. RealDVD was a package of software and hardware that allowed users to copy DVDs. The MPAA contended that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s prohibition on the sale of products designed to overcome encryption technology. The DMCA’s prohibition, combined with the fact that all DVDs are encryption protected, gives the film industry a level of protection that the music industry wishes it had gotten with the advent of the CD. The interesting aspect here is that it is not a copyright violation to make a backup copy of a movie or a cd if you own the original. That issue was settled back in the days of the Betamax. So the DMCA doesn’t rewrite that law – it just makes it functionally impossible to actually take advantage of it. Ingenious really. And now that RealNetworks has given up the fight, it doesn’t look like there’s a viable challenge on the horizon.