[JURIST] The US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] on Tuesday enjoined [opinion, PDF] the technology company RealNetworks [corporate website] from selling its DVD copying software, RealDVD. Judge Marilyn Patel held that the RealDVD software violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) [text] and rejected RealNetwork's fair use defense. Patel did not not entirely dismiss the notion that a fair use defense may prevail in other scenarios, notably individuals making backup copies of DVDs for personal use:
So while it may well be fair use for an individual consumer to store a backup copy of a personally-owned DVD on that individual's computer, a federal law has nonetheless made it illegal to manufacture or traffic in a device or tool that permits a consumer to make such copies. Importantly, such tools are unable to distinguish between personal use copies of personally-owned DVDs and other sorts of copies for other purposes—commercial, personal, or otherwise.
RealNetworks expressed disappointment [press release] with the ruling. The results of a pending RealNetworks anti-trust suit [NYT report] against the six major motion picture studios may alter the long term effects of Tuesday's ruling.
Copyright protection is an important issue to the motion picture and recording industries, and both have sought judgments to enforce protection of intellectual property. In late July, a federal judge found a Boston University graduate student liable for copyright infringement [JURIST report] for illegally downloading 30 songs. Earlier that month, a number of motion picture production companies filed suit in Swedish court to enjoin the operators of the Pirate Bay [JURIST report] file sharing site from continuing operation. One month prior, in a high-profile copyright case, a jury found a Minnesota woman liable for copyright infringement [JURIST report] for illegally downloading 24 songs, and fined her $1.92 million.