Right around the time the world’s financial markets started to collapse, back in 2008, RealNetworks, the folks behind RealPlayer, released RealDVD. It was a short-lived piece of software that made making DVD movie backups fairly painless—too painless for Hollywood, which immediately took RealNetworks to court, claiming all sorts of copyright infringement hokum. That’s all in the past now, for RealNetworks has settled with the six “major” Hollywood studios to the sum of $4.5 million. Ouch.
The deal sees RealNetworks, yes, cough up $4.5 million for “costs and fees in connection with the litigation.” Some deal: you bring someone else to court, then make them pay all your bills. RealNetworks will also stop supporting RealDVD, and is in the process of refunding the purchase price to the 2,700 people who bought the thing.
The company’s statement is sad:
We are pleased to put this litigation behind us. This is another step toward fulfilling our commitment to simplify our company and focus on our core businesses. Until this dispute, Real had always enjoyed a productive working relationship with Hollywood. With this litigation resolved, I hope that in the future we can find mutually beneficial ways to use Real technology to bring Hollywood’s great work to consumers.
I liked RealDVD, if only because it demonstrated quite clearly that Hollywood has no intention of letting you use the items you buy for your own ends. DVDs copied using RealDVD could only be played on that computer where it was ripped. It’s not like I could have borrowed Doug’s copy of Movie, then shared the resulting file with the other guys or anything.
The point is, RealDVD is now dead as disco, but RealNetworks may have earned itself a little bit of geek cred in trying to stand up to big, bad Hollywood.