Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Can You Copy A DVD?

The big six film studios take RealDVD to court this week in San Fransico. They claim RealDVD violates copyright an if they win will be questioning whether consumers can make copies as they have done with music, video and audio for many years.

RealDVD, made by RealNetworks, allows DVD owners to make digital copies of their discs onto a computer or laptop hard drive for their own personal use. However online dwnloadable versions can now be purchased and some studios let users make a digital copy of a movie onto a computer by paying extra for an "expanded edition" of a DVD.

As RealDVD effectively bypasses DRM controls, the movie studios, represented by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), claim it is illegal under the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). The movie studios fear a ‘rent, rip and return’ culture where the end copy can get shared and loose revenues.

RealNetworks, claim that the digital version made using RealDVD can only be played on the computer that made the copy. The National Consumers League, a consumer watchdog group, said a survey it conducted in conjunction with RealNetworks showed consumers want choice.

RealDVD is not alone in what it does, but that is no defence. So is the question more about behaviour and education or about control and restrictions? We all know that the more you restrict and control the more the incentive to break it. The next problem is defining the loss. One side says its huge, crippling and could bring the industry to its knees, the other that it may be a likened to shrinkage in a store – it happens.

It’s somewhat ironic that the case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California is being heard by Judge Marilyn Patel. She presided over the Napster case and eventually shut down the original peer-to-peer music file-sharing service.

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