October 01, 2008

Where's Elvis? -- Dueling DVD Copying Lawsuits

Greetings. Here we go again. A pair of dueling lawsuits between the motion picture industry and Rob Glaser's RealNetworks have materialized, this time surrounding Real's release of a DVD copying program, RealDVD, that includes some unilateral restrictions on created copies.

I'm not a lawyer, and I'm not a fan of DVD piracy. Nor am I an expert on the intricacies of the legal differences between DVD piracy and fair use copying -- clearly an evolving area of law.

But one aspect of all this seems obvious to me. Elvis has already left the building!

Unless our goal is the full employment of itinerant attorneys, these sorts of lawsuits -- on both sides -- tend mainly to divert resources from the broader range of intellectual property issues that truly deserve our attention.

DVD ripping and copying is impossible to stop at this late stage. Here's over 1.5 million reasons why in a single URL:


The DVD Decrypter program is -- obviously -- ubiquitous. While its development stopped sometime back, it's still perfectly capable of extracting the contents of virtually any commercial DVD to disk, and in conjunction with other widely available and free programs create perfect DVD copies.

Is DVD Decrypter legal to use? As I suggested above, the laws in this area are in flux, and I don't consider myself qualified to render an opinion on this for any given situation.

But the point is that DVD Decrypter, and other programs like it do exist. They're not going to vanish and will always be easily available, lawsuits notwithstanding. That's simply the reality of the situation, whether we choose to like it or not. Anyone who wants to is easily capable of copying DVDs without paying a single dime to RealNetworks.

The current round of DVD lawsuits is something of a battle between phantoms, like attempting to alter history without the benefit of Mr. Peabody's Wayback machine.

It's time to move on. Elvis isn't coming back for another encore.


Posted by Lauren at October 1, 2008 02:55 PM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein