Judge: RealDVD Antitrust Case Real Stupid
The federal judge presiding over the RealNetworks legal battle with Hollywood has confirmed what even the company’s attorneys have likely known all along: There was no chance whatsoever the company would prevail in its claims against the film industry, and the plight in which RealNetworks (RNWK) now finds itself is entirely its own doing.
On Friday, Judge Marilyn Patel, who in 2000 issued the injunction that shut Napster down, dismissed Real’s antitrust claims against Disney (DIS) and other movie studios over their alleged collusion to block RealDVD, the company’s “legal” DVD ripper.
The studios and the DVD Copy Control Association, she found, were well within their rights to band together to prevent what they believed to be illegal copying of their content. Real was foolish to think otherwise, and its claim that it has suffered significant losses because of its inability to sell a product of questionable legality is, in a word, ludicrous.
Which is not to say that consumers should not have the right to copy and back up films they have legally purchased, just that the courts have never looked favorably on those who claim that right through a technology that bypasses DVD copy protection and consequently violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
“Real’s purported injury stems from its own decision to manufacture and traffic in a device that is almost certainly illegal under the DMCA,” Patel wrote. “In the circumstances of this case, there is no allegation Real could make that would give it antitrust standing.”