Michael Klurfeld is a Chicago-based musician and technologist specializing in legal happenings and public policy. You can find him on Twitte Michael Klurfeld is a Chicago-based musician and technologist specializing in legal happenings and public policy. You can find him on Twitter here, or send him an email here.
A U.S judge has issued a permanent injunction against Real Networks’ selling of their RealDVD software. Real, best known for the RealPlayer and .rm streaming file format, developed RealDVD to allow consumers to copy their DVDs to a hard drive without completely removing copy protection and other forms of DRM.
The MPAA sued Real Networks back in 2008, however, as they claimed that even making a copy with DRM attached to it violated the DMCA, as this circumvents the initial copy protection which the film publishers put on the movies.
As Fred von Lohmann, a senior attorney at the EFF points out, the MPAA’s entire case is completely to the detriment of consumers. As there is not currently a legal way to make backups of one’s physical format movies, “if you want to create a digital back-up of your movies, you have to pay for that a second time on iTunes.”
There is a free market argument to be made here, but at the end of the day, the MPAA is just being unfair. If a consumer buys a DVD, he is paying for the right to watch the movie whenever he wants (assuming he’s not showing it to audiences for profit or something like that). The fact that the movie is tied to a physical disc is an issue of coincidence, but it’s a coincidence upon which film studios are hoping to make extra money. Sure, the public at large can stage a boycott and avoid buying movies until the MPAA decides to play nice, but suffice to say it’s a tad unfair that an industry has a stranglehold on how people can take part in a large part of American culture.
If anything, the American film industry’s stance on storing movies as files seems conflicted. With all of its recent DVDs, for example, Disney includes a digital copy of the movie which is specifically designed to be viewed on a computer or a portable media player. And as the market place changes further, no one is going to buy physical copies of movies. But right now, sorry, if you want to legally save your DVD to your hard drive, you have to buy a digital copy of the file. This is the sort of industry stance that encourages piracy.
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