Hollywood Tells Consumers What They Can Do with Their DVDs

Last week, RealDVD, a product that allows consumers to download a copy of legally purchased DVDs, was dealt a setback when a court granted a preliminary injunction against the sale of the software.  Judge Marilyn Hall Patel—famous for the ruling that killed Napster—issued the injunction that will keep RealDVD off the market until a copyright infringement case against RealDVD is heard by the courts.  The Hollywood studios filed the suit against RealDVD, making clear their assertion that they not only control content, but also how that content is distributed.  Unlike the many illegal DVD decrypters available on the internet, RealDVD does not remove copyright protections and in fact adds an additional layer of protection to assure that no more than a single copy of the DVD can be downloaded to a hard drive.  Nonetheless, according to Judge Patel, RealDVD violated the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), leaving consumers in a world where it is legal to copy music from a cd to an MP3 player, but it remains illegal for consumers to back up copies of legally purchased DVDs.  The DMCA has turned into a tool for protecting the market share of monopolists, overriding arguments of fair use to the detriment of consumers, competition, and innovation.  For more on the RealDVD issue, see FreedomWorks Foundation’s Issue Analysis “Hollywood vs. Consumers.”