Following a decision in October to uphold a temporary ban on RealNetwork's DVD copying software RealDVD, hearings began Friday in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to determine the legality of the program, according to PC Magazine. RealDVD allows users to burn one copy of a DVD onto a harddrive. The MPAA, who filed the initial suit against RealNetworks, contends that the software violates the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which states that any software bypasses DVD copy protection is illegal. RealNetwork's claims that the software does not bypass the encryption and, in fact, increases the encryption in a way that prevents the burned DVD content from being played on any other PC.
The judge presiding in this case, U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, also presided over the Napster case in 1996 and is the judge who upheld the initial ban on RealDVD last October. CNET reports that Judge Patel sealed the courtroom on Friday after representatives of the MPAA and the DVD Copy Control Association requested that the court be cleared in order to protect confidential information about the technology used to encrypt DVDs. After agreeing that the testimony met the requirements for a trade secret, the judge ordered that anyone who had not signed a confidentiality agreement be dismissed. RealNetworks and CNET officially objected to the decision, but were overruled.