Apple, Microsoft and RealNetworks are no strangers to DRM. In fact, Microsoft was one of the biggest pushers of DRM when protected WMA and WMV content first started surfacing. Though Apple has recently campaigned for DRM-free music, they too have distributed much DRM-protected content. Thus, it not only surprised but actually stunned me to hear of these companies being sued for not using DRM. When I first read this, I thought it had to be a joke. Sadly, it isn't. Media Rights Technologies is suing these companies because they are, quote, actively avoiding using their DRM technology:
"We've given these four companies 10 days to talk to us and work out a solution, or we will go into federal court and file action and seek an injunction to remove the infringing products from the marketplace," says CEO Hank Risan.
A spokesperson from RealNetworks seemed more amused than anything, claiming this attempt to be nothing more than a publicity stunt:
RealNetworks spokesman Matt Graves said he hadn't yet seen the letter, but it appeared to be a ploy by a "desperate company" to get its product licensed. "That's a rather novel approach to business development," he said in an e-mail interview Friday.
Right they most likely are, as the absurdity of this lawsuit is without measure. Either one must believe that Media Rights Technologies does not believe in a free market, or they are just out for a bit of press. If that's what they want, that's what they got. Unfortunately for them it's most likely to be negative press.
Update: You can read the press release covering this at prnewswire.