RealNetworks suffered yet another setback yesterday, as U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel backed up an earlier injunction that prevents it from manufacturing or selling its RealDVD disc-copying application on the grounds that it breaks copyright law. The original injunction came on October last year shortly after the software’s debut, and it will now hold until the case is resolved at a full trial.
Often criticized online for its lackluster software history, RealNetworks actually found support on message boards and blogs for releasing RealDVD and standing up against the almighty Hollywood studios. But as far as legal issues are concerned, things are still on sketchy ground.
RealNetworks claims use of its RealDVD software falls under the fair-use doctrine, as it allows the copying of legally owned DVDs without breaking or modifying the original CSS encryption nor allowing users to distribute their backups. At the same time, however, it also opens up the possibility of borrowing or renting DVDs to make digital copies of them. But should RealNetworks be held liable for what use people give to the software?
Essentially what the courts are telling consumers is that it’s okay to make digital backups of their DVDs but not to build the tools necessary for the job – negating the possibility of fair use in the first place. A final decision is still to be made at a future trial; in the meantime you can resort to one of many readily available free and paid tools that offer similar disc-copying functionality.