Judge: RealDVD is totally illegal as per the DMCA


Yesterday, August 11, wasn’t just Joe Rogan’s birthday. Nope, it was also the date when a judge in San Francisco ruled that RealDVD was illegal, and reiterated that it was illegal to manufacture or traffic software that makes it possible to copy DVDs. So, every time you fire up DVD Copier on your PC, make a copy of a DVD that you bought, well, you’re breaking the law. The DMCA just keeps on giving, doesn’t it?

Who can forget RealDVD? For a split second last fall, Real, a company generally loathed online as a result of its rubbish software history, found support on so many message boards for releasing RealDVD. It enabled people to make copies of DVDs to their PC. Fair Use, etc. The resulting copy was only playable on that particular PC, so it wasn’t like you’d be able to load up the ISO into your BearShare shared folder. (Man, who else remembers the days when you had to manually add servers to the various Windows Gnutella programs?) In any event, you won’t be able to do that now, since the judge ruled that RealDVD conflicts with the DMCA, the awesome Federal law that has been ruining our lives since 1998.

(Incidentally, if I were entertaining the idea of going to law school, what’s one with a fine copyright law/IP department? That’s the only type of law that would personally interest me.)

But here’s where it gets interesting. Said U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel:

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.

Soooo, we have the right to make Fair Use copies of our DVDs, but the DMCA makes it illegal for someone to produce such software. And I’m going to assume that the word “manufacture” means it’s also illegal to sit there and program your own copying software. Something to do with Federal Law (DMCA) trumping Common Law (Fair Use).

Meanwhile, I just watched this video again, by Carl Sagan, and realized that none of this matters in the grand scheme of things.