Signalling a key victory in Hollywood’s anti-piracy war, a US district court has ruled that Seattle-based RealNetwork’s RealDVD duplication software breaches copyright law.

US District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the Northern District Of California circuit issued a preliminary injunction on Tuesday [11] against the company from trading RealDVD until a jury decides the case.

The US majors and their lobby group the Motion Picture Association Of America (MPAA) had argued that the software, which allows users to copy DVDs into digital files and store them on a hard drive, and RealNetworks’ DVD player violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Content Scramble System license.

The ruling essentially categorises the prooduct as a piracy mechanism. Referring to Vegas, RealNetworks’ codename for the software, Judge Patel said, “Had Real’s products been manufactured differently, ie if what happened in Vegas really did stay in Vegas, this might have been a different case.

“But, it is what it is. Once the distributive nature of the copying process takes hold, like the spread of gossip after a weekend in Vegas, what’s done cannot be undone.”

MPAA chairman and CEO Dan Glickman hailed the ruling as a victory for content creators and producers and “the rule of law in our digital economy.”

“Judge Patel’s ruling affirms what we have known all along,” Glickman said. “RealNetworks took a license to build a DVD-player and instead made an illegal DVD-copier.”

He added that the MPAA was committed to “advancing the consumer experience” through legal digital avenues such as free streaming, VOD, downloads and DVD bonus digital copies of features, TV shows and series.