RealNetworks Claims They Did Not Anticipate MPAA’s Lawsuit

Posted Mar 24, 2009

The Motion Picture ASsociation of America (MPAA) is suing RealNetworks over software that they created that copies DVDs. RealNetworks did not expect the MPAA to sue them for the software. The MPAA is suing RealNetworks for marketing the DVD copying software. The claim is that RealNetworks’ RealDVD software was illegally designed to make it easy for users to get around technology that prevents the copying of DVDs.

Yesterday RealNetworks made the surprise claim because under the rules of evidence, a company must retain records if they have knowledge of a potential upcoming lawsuit.  The MPAA has reason to believe that RealNetworks destroyed documents that relate to the production of the RealDVD software.  The MPAA believes that RealNetworks did this well before they sued the software company in September.

“We didn’t think litigation was probable,” stated Leo Cunningham, one of RealNetworks’ attorney.  Cunningham reported this to U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel during a hearing.  The MPAA generally sues all companies that they believe is a threat to DVD sales.

The MPAA alleges that RealNetworks trashed a senior project manager’s “engineering notebooks” and “actual code files.”  Cunningham stated that the disapperance of the notebooks are a mystery.

Bart Williams, an attorney for the MPAA stated that it was obvious that the MPAA wuld sue RealNetworks.  RealNetworks should have expected it from the time of the product’s initial development two years ago.

Within a few days of the RealDVD software hitting the market, about 3,000 copies were sold.  Judge Patel blocked further distribution in October until an outcome was decided.  MPAA believes that RealNetworks is directly violating the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

RealNetworks said that they are not violating the DMCA because they allow users to store copies of their own movies on their hard drives which is fair use.  One of the biggest disputes in the case is whether a DVD should be playable without the need for the actual disc with built-in encryption code.

[via Wired]