Hollywood Goes To Court Over DVD Software

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RealNetworks recently released RealDVD software that allows people to copy DVDs onto a computer. That did not make the Hollywood studios happy, because they see it as a way for customers to steal movies. The two sides are in federal court Monday in San Francisco arguing the legitimacy of the software.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

NPR's business news starts with Hollywood battling the Internet.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: It's the latest effort by traditional entertainment companies to block technologies they say could hurt their bottom line. Today, Hollywood studios are in court in San Francisco. They're trying to block a new software that makes it easier for people to share movies over the Internet. NPR's Laura Sydell reports.

LAURA SYDELL: The software is called RealDVD, and it lets you copy a DVD onto your computer. But the company says it won't permit users to make copies that can be shared over the Internet. Still, the Hollywood studios say customers can make copies of rental DVDs rather than paying the extra price to own one. There are a lot of ways RealDVD could hurt the studios' bottom line. It could cut into the growing market for digital downloads of movies.

People would be less likely to download films if they can put copies on their computer hard drives. Companies that make DVD players will also be affected by the outcome of the case. RealNetworks was already working with several manufactures to put their software into the player so that customers could copy their movie collections onto a player-based hard drive. The case is being argued in front of Judge Marilyn Patel. She oversaw the music industry case against Napster. Napster lost the case and had to shut down. But that hasn't stopped people from sharing music online without paying for it.

Laura Sydell, NPR News, San Francisco.

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