Munger Tolles Copyright Case Named Among California’s Most Significant 2009 Plaintiff Verdicts

The Daily Journal has named DVD Copy Control Association Inc. v. RealNetworks Inc. among California’s 2009 plaintiff verdicts with the most significant impact.

U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, on August 11, granted a ground-breaking preliminary injunction forbidding RealNetworks, Inc. from distributing DVD “ripping” products known as RealDVD and Facet.  The ruling represents a significant step toward shielding the film industry from the kind of file-sharing and piracy of copyrighted works that has been seen in the music industry. The MPAA estimates that film piracy in all its forms cost the industry $6.5 billion in 2005 (the most recent available statistic).

Munger, Tolles & Olson represented the six major motion picture studios, who sought the preliminary injunction under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and also pursued a claim alleging that Real breached its license with the DVD Copy Control Association for use of the DVD copy protection system (“CSS”).  Munger Tolles demonstrated that RealNetworks’ products circumvented numerous aspects of the copy-protection technologies that protect DVD content. RealNetworks had argued not only that its products did not circumvent DVD copy-protection technologies, but also that consumers have a fair-use right to backup their DVDs. Judge Patel disagreed with RealNetworks: “Whatever application the fair use doctrine may have for individual consumers making back-up copies of their own DVDs, it does not portend to save Real from liability under the DMCA in this action.” The victory came after a contrary decision from the Santa Clara Superior Court that had interpreted the CSS License not to prohibit the copying of DVDs.

Munger Tolles' trial team included Bart H. Williams, Rohit K. Singla, Glenn D. Pomerantz, Lawrence C. Barth, Kelly M. Klaus, Rebecca G. Lynch, Jonathan H. Blavin and L. Ashley Aull.