updated 06:40 pm EST, Wed March 3, 2010
Real agrees to keep DVD ripper off shelves
RealNetworks on Wednesday night agreed to a settlement in movie studios' lawsuit against RealDVD. The deal will see the company agree to a permanent ban against selling the app and related technologies as well as pay out a settlement of $4.5 million to the MPAA members that launched the suit. In return, the MPAA has promised only to drop the legal action.
Existing users of the software will also be cut off, as Real has also agreed to shut down the server providing cover art and other data automatically to the just 2,700 buyers who were able to download RealDVD before it was banned. These owners will be refunded the cost of their individual copies.
As expected, the MPAA said it was "gratified" by the decision, while Real spun the settlement to argue that it put the issue in the past. Real had a "productive working relationship" with movie studios until RealDVD, acting company CEO Robert Kimball claimed.
The existence of RealDVD was considered a testing ground for fair use principles in the US. Proponents of the software, which saved DVDs for playback online without permanently removing copy protection, contended that fair use meant any media could be legally copied for backup purposes. The MPAA resisted this and argued that breaking protection was always illegal.
Real's settlement comes less than a month after it split off Rhapsody and reveals Kimball to be deliberately going against the practices of former CEO Rob Glaser, who left the company in January. The early video firm at the time said it was hoping to regain focus and profitability and implied at the time a distinct conflict with Glaser's views on RealDVD and music.