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MPAA Says Making Even “One Copy” of a DVD is Illegal

Fights Real Networks attempts to release RealDVD software that allows users to make backup copies of purchased DVDs.

Last September Real Networks launched RealDVD to allow users to make backup copies of purchased DVDs for private use. The MPAA immediately dubbed it "StealDVD" and filed a lawsuit to ban the sale of RealDVD.

It’s essentially arguing that the price of a DVD is predicated on the "notion of certain use rights associated with certain price points."

"When a consumer can voluntarily expand the rights that come with one of those services — in essence open the door to multiple copies of a work not licensed for that — that eliminates any monetization models except one: selling full use rights to the work at one fixed price," says the Copyright Alliance on the MPAA’s behalf.

In other words, it only charges $9.99 per DVD, for example, because it assumes it lasts for a finite period of time, becoming inoperable due to wear and tear I suppose.

If you want a DVD you can make copies of then the "price point" must be higher to reflect "expanded use rights."

Insane I know.

Now after the MPAA made its closing arguments in the case to determine whether or not Real Networks can resume selling Real DVD, U.S. District Judge Marilyn Patel, raised some interesting questions.

Her most poignant question for the MPAA attorneys was whether or not it believes it’s legal for consumers to make backup copies of purchased DVDs for private use.

"Not for the purposes under the DMCA," said Bart Williams, one of the MPAA’s attorneys. "One copy is a violation of the DMCA.

Copyright law makes it illegal for anyone to circumvent DVD encryption technology, which RealDVD seems to do.

Real Networks thinks its really all about "stifling competition."

"We believe the buyer has that right to play a DVD as many times as they want," Scott told Patel. "We think he also has the right to make a copy, this fair use copy."

He used the music industry as example, whereby it allows consumers to make copies for personal use.

"This is the experience that has been recognized as lawful fair use," Scott said. "These same studios have talked about CDs. A purchased CD can be copied to a computer and then transferred to an iPod without any charge to the consumer."

The fact that the MPAA tries to prevent consumers from making backup copies is what really should be on trial here. To say that we must pay more if we want to make backup copy is outrageous, and is another glaring example of why people turn to BitTorrent and other file-sharing outlets – they’re filling a void left purposely by the MPAA and its own shortsightedness.

Stay tuned.

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