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'Big' Hollywood Kills RealDVD?


A while back, I authored a post here on Big Hollywood about the movie industry’s battle against RealDVD, an innovative technology that, if permitted to exist, would allow DVD owners to make personal “backup” copies of their movies, while simultaneously adding an encryption to discouraging piracy.

In September of 2008, calling it “StealDVD,” the big Hollywood (no pun intended) studios filed suit against RealDVD.

And this past Tuesday — as PC World wrote – RealDVD was dealt a “devastating blow” when U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel “granted a preliminary injunction against sale of RealDVD, pending a trial over copyright infringement.”

It’s too soon to know what will happen, but it appears the movie industry has the upper hand. But is it a victory they cannot afford to win?

As I noted months ago, the irony is that by opposing RealDVD, the movie industry seems to be operating against its own long-term self-interest. As consumers desire more freedoms and options, the most successful companies are embracing the societal changes. Meanwhile, the movie industry has adopted a very un-progressive posture and is hunkering down and simply suing the innovators.

Whereas the music industry seems to have learned that swimming against the modern-day consumer’s demand is a fool’s errand, the movie industry is doubling down. As PC World noted, “It’s perfectly legal to rip music from a CD and upload it onto an iPod for personal use; why can’t a person do the same with their own copies of movies?”

iPod owners own the right to make a certain number of personal copies of their music. Systems are in place to prevent mass piracy. RealDVD would essentially do the same thing. Again, PC World hit the nail on the head, writing that RealDVD allowed “only a single digital copy to be placed on your hard drive. After paying extra licensing fees, you could transfer the digital copy onto as many as five other hard drives. Disc-based burning was never an option.”

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Hollywood has long presented itself as “cool” and “cutting edge,” yet when it comes to guiding their own industry, they seem mired in a 20th century mindset. The irony here is that instead of allowing a legitimate and innovative company flourish, the movie industry will likely find that more and more piracy sites will emerge and that fewer and fewer people will be buying what they are selling.

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