Real vs. the MPAA: Dumb and dumberer

When reports first came out about a month ago that Real Networks was launching a DVD-ripping software application called RealDVD, a number of people — including yours truly — wondered what on earth the geniuses at Real were smoking. How could such a product not get sued? Even though the software uses its own digital-rights management controls to prevent sharing, burning, etc., it seemed obvious that the movie industry would have a conniption when they got wind of RealDVD. And guess what? They’ve gone ahead and launched a lawsuit against the company.

Real’s lawyers tried to get the jump on Hollywood (or rather, the Motion Picture Association of America) by filing a lawsuit against the organization first, asking the courts to rule that RealDVD complies with licensing agreements, but that’s the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass at best. But if Real is dumb for ever thinking it could launch such a product, the MPAA is even dumber for opposing it. If the app includes DRM controls that prevent users from sharing and burning, then why not let DVD buyers make copies that they can watch on their computers? Seeing any kind of copying as a crime hasn’t done the industry any favours so far.

Items that may one day be posts

  • The Motion Picture Association may have picked on the wrong guy when they sent a letter asking software developer Shawn Hogan to pay up for downloading movies. He happens to be a multi-millionaire, and plans to take the MPAA to court.
  • Eric Rice of Hipcast makes the point that podcasts and other audio and video content are not two-way — in other words, not conversations but monologues in a sense (although they can contain conversations). This may seem obvious, but I think it bears remembering.
  • Once again, a couple of members of the “old” media show that they don’t know how to take a joke: Ken Jennings, the guy who won all that money on Jeopardy, wrote a satirical post on his blog about the show in which he called Alex Trebek a cyborg (among other things), and the New York Post reamed him out for it, as did the Associated Press. That’s just sad.
  • New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell returns to the scene of the crime and responds to criticism of the comments he made awhile back (eons in blogosphere terms) about how blogs are derivative. He qualifies his comments a bit, but sticks to his central point, and says that being derivative isn’t necessarily a bad thing.