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RealNetworks Sues

Hemos posted more than 14 years ago | from the fun-with-the-courts dept.

The Courts 181

Line Noise writes "According to an article on TheStandard, RealNetworks is accusing Streambox of violating the Digital Millenium Copyright Act with its Streambox Ripper and Streambox VCR. These products allow you to download and convert a RealAudio file into a MP3 or WAV, bypassing RealNetworks protection against piracy. "

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Details on VCR and Ripper (5)

Zippy the Pinhead (3531) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446573)

I'm a longtime user of StreamBox [] /2Bsys [] products, and a beta tester for the newest version of StreamVCR.

StreamBox VCR, formerly called X-FileGet, downloads Real content using the proprietary PNM and PNM/G2 protocols, as well as the publicly-available RTSP and Windows Media protocols. It uses no Real code. StreamBox is not the only company to do this. Windows Media Player handles RealAudio streams and files, and Oracle is apparently reverse-engineering Real protocols and formats [] so they can take advantage of Real's installed base for THEIR media server.

StreamBox Ripper, formerly RA2Wav, uses Real DLLs to read RealAudio files, just like a couple WinAmp plugins and (I believe) Windows Media Player. It allows you to write the output to WAV, WMA or MP3, just as if you were using TotalRecorder or Virtual Audio Cable with RealPlayer.

It's not clear what legal ground Real has to stand on. The legality of "space-shifting" and "time-shifting" licensed content has been defended in court and AFAIK, the programmer didn't disassemble any Real code.

However, it looks like Real is approaching this as a format-control issue, arguing that somehow, software that converts their format to another is illegal. It looks like a questionable lawsuit against a company that can't afford lawyers, meant to set a precedent before Real goes up against Microsoft or Oracle.

from Internet Product Watch (1)

treebeard77 (68658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446574)

Streambox Ripper

Converts MP3, RealAudio G2, and CD to WMA

Streambox Ripper allows users to batch convert
their digital music collections into the WMA
(Windows Media Audio) format, as well as providing
several other file format conversion paths. It has the
ability to rip both WMA and MP3 files direct from
CDs, as well as convert multiple RealAudio files to
WMA or MP3 format in a single batch process.

The product supports multiple conversion paths for
audio files; including MP3 to WMA, RealAudio to
WMA, RealAudio (G2) to MP3, and CD Audio to
WMA or MP3. Additional CD Audio features of the
product include a 10 band graphic equalizer, a track
information window, and CDDB support.

Streambox Ripper is currently in beta, a fully
functional two-week trial version is available from the Web site. Following the trial period,
users are required to pay the shareware registration
fee of $34.95.

product submission by IPW Staff

p.s. I've tried various sites to download and all seem to point to the disabled one at

Re:More bad legislation leads to more abuses (2)

ralphclark (11346) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446575)

Not far enough. Ban pencils and notepads lest the evil information pirates write the secret knowledge down. But they might spread the information by word of mouth so let's rip their tongues out too. And cut off their hands just to be sure.

Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
Thought exists only as an abstraction

Not fair (1)

SideshowBob (82333) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446586)

In any corporation (even so-called 'employee owned' corporations) 90% or more of the people associated with it have no say in what is done, especially in legal matters. The execs, the corporate counsel, and the legal department call the shots.

Remember, the rank and file engineers at companies like M$, Real, Apple, et. al. are for the most part just geeks like me and you...

The laws of this country make behavior that seems wrong, unfair, or bullyish almost mandatory. Patents, trademarks, and copyrights that go undefended are subsequently weakened. In addition, as we all know here at SlashDot, patents are granted with almost no thought, leaving it up to the courts to figure out which are valid and which are ludicrous. Which of course is biased towards big companies with lots of cash that can afford to pay lawyers to defend them. (oh, and predators whose main business is the licensing of intellectual property; i.e. patent everything in sight and then try to extort money out of people)

The laws are set up so that litigation is maximized (hmmm, what profession do almost all lawmakers come from?)

Re:Premature? (1)

In-Doge (116196) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446587)

Money talks :|

Thank God someone invented Streambox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446588)

Streaming media is awful. It NEVER comes across as a constant stream. I would much rather view a poorer-quality constant stream than a choppy or gappy high-quality one. I have a cable modem and it seems to operate in bursts. The end result is that I can't even seem to get a 56K stream to flow without pausing to buffer. I should be able to cache the material in any form I want, be it a temp file or an MP3. If I can hear it, I can record it so I don't see this lawsuit as anything more than yet another case of companies who can't innovate on their they have to sue anyone else who innovates to level the playing field.

Re:Slightly-offtopic -- AMEN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446589)

I'd buy it...

Re:It's not like it matters (1)

bbcat (8314) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446590)

Get a life!

PNM downloader/Realmedia converter for Linux? (1)

Improv (2467) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446591)

Anyone know of a tool which I can use to snag
files via PNM and/or convert my realmedia files
to mpeg movies/audio on Linux?

RealNetworks sues Tape Deck (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446592)

In a suit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, RealNetworks accuses Tape Deck Inc. of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act with its "Special Audio Cable connector" and "DAC Technology", products designed to decode audio and video files intended only to be heard or viewed by users of RealNetworks' RealPlayer.

Etc... Silly stuff.

Another Attempt to Crush Innovation? (1)

NetMasterOC3 (107542) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446593)

It seems to me like its just another attempt to crush innovation.

The way it looks is someone in Real Media decided that they should keep their format theirs, and anybody that might want to do something useful or helpful to the public with it is obviously wrong in their thinking. After all its not about the people and the product, but rather the product and the profits.

This seems very reminiscent of the Netscape/AOL/DOJ vs. Microsoft case. And if history can be used as a guide, then the company that is trying to innovate, and provide people with a better way of doing something is going to loose. Of course were not dealing with a monopoly here, but the underlaying principle is the same. Good ideas getting stomped on by someone else.

Its funny how companies can use the law/government to do their dirty work instead of coming up with the idea in the first place....

Re:PNM downloader/Realmedia converter for Linux? (3)

Zurk (37028) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446594)

snaggin the audio while its playing and converting is relatively easy. look at: .html
Same for windows with the virtual audio cable. Once snagged it can be converted to anything.

MP3 != WAV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446599)

MP3 != Wav

Here we go again... (0)

mTor (18585) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446601)

Does this sound familiar to you? Thought so...

actually.. (1)

Zurk (37028) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446605)

it converts to MP3, WAV or WMA (windows media shit) from realaudio. The download link is down with a ( legal notice..anyone got a mirror ?

Re:Karma HOWTO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446608)

Maybe it's just me, but I actually thought this was kinda funny... treke

Re:Details on VCR and Ripper (2)

RayChuang (10181) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446609)

What I find interesting is that you can get a LOT more progamming information on the format Microsoft uses for their streaming video system (the .ASF/.ASX formats are well-documented) than you can get for Real Networks' .ram/.rm file formats.

In fact, I would totally not be surprised at all if Microsoft would more than happy to help Linux programmers create a streaming video player for Windows Media .ASF/.ASX formats just to send Real Networks for a loop. Given the fact that Yahoo's plans to switch to Windows Media format full-time, this could be bad news for Real Networks because RealPlayer is frequently used to listen to streaming audio.

Re:Is it incorporation or lawyers that are to blam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446610)

Please moderate this superficial nonsense down.

Re:Slightly-offtopic (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446611)

Sale of "Digital Millenium Copyright Act" toilet paper, or any other unlicensed Digital Millenium Copyright Act product, is a clear violation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

Re:PNM downloader/Realmedia converter for Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446612)

if its just the audio, replace /dev/dsp with a UNIX socket and connect up your mp3 encoder to it. Then play the pnm via realplayer.

Fucking morons. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446613)

It has some useful features but quite frankly we all know what most people use it for, to steal copyrighted material.

In the real world we have to respect laws. Exactly why do you people feel you have the right to steal stuff from whoever owns the content? What entitles you to break the law?

I know the excuse already, "it's not like they're losing money or anything, it's not like I stole their car or something" I don't give a fuck how you justify it to yourselves. What if Microsoft stole some GPL-ed code to use in Windows? You'd all go ape-shit over it but it's okay to steal from a company you don't like right? It makes it okay since they're "evil" or whatever.

You people really need to grow up.

Re:Fucking morons. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446614)

idiot. stealing != reverse engineering. stealing != protocol sharing. stealing = code theft.

What's your point? (1)

NoWhere Man (68627) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446615)

Everyone knows that

Why Not? (1)

Unknown Lamer (78415) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446616)

Copyrights don't need to exist anymore. I say, to hell with copyrights and liscences! Just public domain things like they used ot be before the copyright laws came to be! Freely inovaste, but live in constant fear of having oyuir wotk stoledn! whoops. that doesn't work. well, RA files quality sucks. It's not the millenium until 2001(well, it was really in 96, 97, or 98 cause they were off by a few years. Unless you use the common era calender).

Annoying little thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446627)

Isn't it annoying when someone says WAV or MP3? I mean if you can get to WAV you can easily get to MP3, why even mention it? Do we mention all the other formats you can easily go from WAV to?

I don't know... it just annoys me.

(In this case it may be appropriate, the program may very well support MP3 and WAV but it's often used mistakenly)

Re:Thank God someone invented Streambox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446628)

Maybe it's a Linux issue? I never have any problems streaming real media on my 56k under Win2k.

Re:Karma HOWTO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446629)

Far from being funny, I take this offering with all seriousness, as it confirms much of my own research into these questions.

Poor security policy... (2)

sporty (27564) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446630)

1. You can use real player plus to save real files.
2. You can sniff packets and construct a real audio/video file.
3. Doesn't this lead straight back to the problem with dvd encoding, it has to be decoded somewhere?

Morons.. I swear....


Re:Karma HOWTO (1)

m.o (121338) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446631)

Yeah, I actually thought so too. The poster should've waited for a more appropriate discussion, though - "Saving /." topic comes up pretty regularly :) Well, I hope he will re-post it at due time and it will get moderated up rather than into the ground :)

woah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446632)

You were only one off. I must say I'm impressed.

Re:A place to download (1)

Dave Walker (9461) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446633)

I'm trying to remember the quote, but can't; it's about censorship, the 'net, sensing as damage and routing around it.

At any rate, I've now got a copy of a tool I've wanted for awhile, and I didn't know it existed until the lawsuit.

Hmmm... horse, barn door... my middle-aged memory just doesn't serve me well any more!!

RealNetworks just wants a "legal" monopoly (2)

kremer37 (113847) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446634)

RealNetworks has for quite a while been offering their own software that enables you to download and store .rm files on your computer. I think that they are just sore because someone else is making it so that people don't have to spend $50? $100? on their product in order to do that. .rm has always been storeable. take a look in your Temp folder some time after you play a .rm...they're sitting right there, ready to be copied to somewhere else on your computer and kept. I just never liked RealPlayer because most .rm files are poor quality.

I hope that RealNetworks does not win their lawsuit. I would compare it to a judge favoring M$ in a lawsuit against the makers of wine or some other windoze emulator.

GPL Wave-to-Disk (WinNT only) (5)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446635)

A friend of mine found this related util that masquerades as a Windows sound driver so various non-saveable formats can be put as WAVs on your HD. NT only, but at least they have source code: 5/

Or, for click-friendliness: Wave to Disk []

- The Archon

The Last Days of RealNetworks (2)

hatless (8275) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446646)

It's been fun knowing you, Real. It's too bad, really. It's going to suck not having a self-adjusting streaming protocol playable on non-Microsoft operating systems. Streaming MP3 over HTTP doesn't really do it for me, and I don't suspect we'll be seeing Windows Media playback for *nix, MacOS, PalmOS, the Playstation 2, etc. anytime soon.

After not working to protect their file formats, and letting Microsoft write clients to play back their encodings, this isn't going to make it.

Anyway, doesn't every playback scheme that directs a raw audio stream to a soundcard do a "file conversion" to some PCM format already? Isn't Streambox's only "sin" that they allow the converted file to be saved?

Note to Rob Glaser: maybe after you sell the burned-out husk of the company to AOL or Sun in a year or so, you can go back to work for Microsoft.

Real's sdk license (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446647)

Real SDK license includes a statement like -
You cannot use the sdk to make software that will convert realnetworks media into any other competing format. You have to 'sign' it to download the SDK, that contains source code, and API information. If the developer used the Real SDK to develop the software, he violated the license. This is not to say that the Real SDK license isn't dickish, it is. So what. They have a right to protect their revenue source. Its called business. Who cares. Get over it.

Re:Why Not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446648)

MILLE + ANNUS == MILLENNIUM, a thousand years

MILLE + ANUS == MILLENIUM, a thousand arses

Hemos, you do this every fucking time. Go back to English class.

I know whom to sue next (2)

/ (33804) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446649)

I'm going to sue these folks [] next. I mean, just look at them. They provide a service for converting word processing files between formats. Without regard for the copyrights held on the content of those files. What fiends!

I figure that'll be a much easier suit to win than trying to sue every person who ever listens to a realaudio file, since he is obviously involved in an international conspiracy to convert digital audio files on his computer to an analog format (his thoughts) suitable for unlimited future playback (his memory). Never a clearer case of crimethink can be imagined.


Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446650)

Folks, Its Christmas Eve!

What are we all doing here? Are we really that intraverted??

Re:they can't control it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446651)

They're going to have to outlaw tape recorders, because I have developed this really cool technique..

Re:unfuck.exe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446652)

What is it?

Re:GPL Wave-to-Disk (WinNT only) = BEAUTIFUL (2)

JoeShmoe (90109) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446653)

The above post needs serious upward moderation.

One of the stupidest ideas, IMO, is that companies think they should be able to charge me over and over for the same content. If I go to a movie and some idiot talks or laughs during a critical part of the dialog, I'm expected to fork over another $7 to hear what I missed. On the other hand, if I buy the tape then magically I can watch it as often as I want.

Of course, this is only because the technology doesn't allow them to charge me each time I see that tape...but we are heading that way. Divx was a prime example. Streaming media is another. We are moving into new Dark Age; a period when any time we see or hear anything educational or entertaining, it will cost us. Someday when mental interfaces have been perfected, we will probably be charged just for remembering part of a concert or movie that previously experienced. [/cynical]

I say fight. This program is my new favorite tool to take back my rights as a consumer. "If I can hear it, I can record it" as the saying goes. The idea behind this program is a perfect exmaple of that. RIAA is going to have to convince me to install some new hardware in my machine if they want to be able to stop me.

And that just ain't gonna happen...

- JoeShmoe

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= -=-=-=-=-=-=-

Re:they can't control it! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446654)

They can definitely stop you from getting the music:

They just stop making it.

Like any art, music requires practice. And the more you practice, the better you get. A lot of shit music is made by people who are able to make a living as full-time musicians, sure; but a lot more shit music is made by people who can't do it full-time, and so never have the time to get better. Time produces better art, and money produces time.

Besides, getting music from a guitar player's brain to your ears requires quite a few intermediate steps. You need studio time, production, promotion (especially if you can no longer make money from selling the media, so you need to tour or sell hard goods like T-shirts)... even if the guitar player works for free, will the producer? Will the A&R guy, or his equivalent at Will the sysadmin who keeps running?

That's why I still buy CDs, and if my favorite artists come by town or have a new T-shirt to sell, I buy it. My few dollars mean another little chunk of time they're busy making more and better music, not flipping burgers so they don't get evicted.

Re:20th post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446655)

Oh yeah??? Well... mister smartypants.. lets see if you can get the first post of 2000. He who gets first post on Jan 1 is my new god.

Re:Premature? (1)

Pyro P (7396) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446656)

I thought the Digital Milennium Copyright Act didn't go into effect until next year.

But the new millennium doesn't start until 2001!

notice the word "OR" in there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446657)

wouldn't that mean they are different?

Don't forget Amiga (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446658)

The amiga crowd have been pestering them for years about an amiga version, been mailing, writing, gathering signatures of people willing to buy an amiga version - but the real networks people just stick to their "Go away we are busy" attitude. Well, go away real networks - please

Re:they can't control it! (1)

ar32h (45035) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446659)

Don't need a tape recorder, just a audio cable and a full duplex sound card -- jumper cable between the audio in and out ports play the file and record the file...

geeesh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446660)

This is ridiculous. This is only a copy of the original article, for Christsakes. And it's a 5? You don't think people can follow links? Clearly there are enough moderators out there that think like you, and that serving click-lazy readers is of the Highest Order of Service Rendered that is possible in the slashdot universe.

Metamoderators, do you job. Get mad at those moderators that rate these content-less posts so high.

Re:RealNetworks just wants a "legal" monopoly (1)

ncc74656 (45571) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446661)

RealNetworks has for quite a while been offering their own software that enables you to download and store .rm files on your computer.

The utility of that feature is solely dependent on whether the content provider allowed for this capability at encoding time. There's a flag that can be set in RealEncoder to enable or disable the "record" feature. I think you can guess how most sites set this. :-(

I had been using Real stuff to time-shift some talk-radio programs with my old (v3) RealEncoder and RealServer G2 Basic running on Linux to do real-time encoding and subsequent streaming across my home LAN to Win9x boxen running RealPlayer G2. I recently replaced RealEncoder with ecasound and NotLAME, and RealPlayer with Winamp...yes, I'm using MP3 now instead, though this happened before this whole Streambox thing popped up. The only weak spot is streaming...Icecast doesn't let listeners seek to particular tracks or to parts of a track like RealServer does, and RealServer won't stream MP3s (I've tried). Maybe I should just get Samba running and share the MP3 directories on the Linux's not like I'm serving MP3s to the world (over 56k dial-up? Yeah, right...).

On a more related note: a link to Streambox Ripper was posted further upstream, but Streambox VCR sounds like it'd be a more useful program. I've checked AltaVista and Google and have come up empty. Is Streambox VCR mirrored anywhere? Downloading high-bandwidth streaming-media files over a low-bandwidth connection for later listening/viewing would be nice.

Re:So what is the British spelling? (1)

dmoen (88623) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446662)

US spelling is Millennium, but the Brits use the word with an 'l' or 'n' dropped.

They do not. The Oxford English Dictionary has an entry for "millennium", but not for "millenium". The etymology says that this word derives from the Latin word "millennium". Chambers English Dictionary (an English dictionary) and Websters New Twentieth Century (an American dictionary) agree. So there is only one accepted spelling, and that is "millennium", regardless of whether you are writing in English, American or Latin.

And "British" is spelled with only one "t".

If you're going to make pedantic posts picking nits in other people's spelling, at least consult a dictionary first.

Oops! Minor typo (2)

cybersquid (24605) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446663)

The passage:

bypassing RealNetworks protection against piracy.

Should have read:

bypassing RealNetworks protection against


Re:Fucking morons. (1)

j0nb0y (107699) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446664)

No one in their right mind would release a valuable copyrighted media for real player and expect that no one would be able to copy it. I would surmise that most people who only release things in ra format probably don't know the benefits of other formats. Real Networks is just trying to keep their format closed.

Re:Another Attempt to Crush Innovation? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446675)

It seems to me like its just another attempt to crush innovation.

Since when is copying work done by other people equal to innovation! All Streambox does is let you make copies of media developed by other people using a protocol orginally developed by another company.

This seems very reminiscent of the Netscape/AOL/DOJ vs. Microsoft case.

Loud sound of vomiting. The DOJ/Microsoft case was brought because Microsoft was abusing it's monopoly power to crush competitors like Netscape, who from what I remember had a browser on the market well before Microsoft did.

Microsoft is a corrupt monopolistic corporate vulture that has STIFLED innovation in the software industry for the last decade. They are famous for their 'embrace and extend' which is their way of saying ripoff and make incompatable with open standards.

Government-enforced proprietary file formats! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446676)

ATTENTION ASSHOLE SOFTWARE EXECUTIVES! Now you don't even need to use patented technology to lock your customers into your proprietary data format! Just by merely claiming your convoluted file format provides anti-piracy protection, your lawyers can stop your upstart competitors dead in their tracks! Remember, asshole software executives, this is brought to you by your US Congress... so don't forget to support them and their parties generously in the coming election year!

RealNetworks, a Baby Microsoft? (3)

seaportcasino (121045) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446677)

Due to a recent, temporary restraining order (TRO) by US District Court in Seattle, Streambox Ripper, VCR and Ferret are no longer available for download. In view of the serious impact of the TRO with respect to Streambox's business, the Court also ordered that Real Networks post a $1 million dollar bond to cover any loss to Streambox if the Court later finds that the TRO was wrongfully issued. Read press release. We regret any inconvenience this may cause you. However, you may still download an altered version of Streambox Ripper (without RealAudio decoding) that supports MP3s, CDs and Windows Media files. Thanks for your understanding, and be sure to check back often in the coming days for updates on the lawsuit, as well as other products. Happy Holidays from the entire Streambox team!

Got this off of the Streambox web site. RealNetworks is really getting to be a little baby Microsoft it seems. Can you imagine if Microsoft ever breaks up? Can you imagine 10-20 of these little companies like RealNetworks trying to crush or at least sue every competetor to death. It makes me think that maybe keeping Microsoft together as one big but slow-moving beast wouldn't be such a bad idea.


An Ominous Coward (13324) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446678)

No, we're really that atheistic.

Anyone know where to get Streambox VCR? (1)

evel aka matt (123728) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446679)

I'd love a file location for that if anyone can help out, and also maybe one for the other program they took down "ferret" i believe? thanks...

Does anyone have a Url... (1)

talldark (76086) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446680)

Does anyone have a URL to an older copy of the software - their stuff on their site can no longer decode Real Audio Stuff

Many thanks,


Nothing to do with copyright (4)

kaphka (50736) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446681)

Don't let the title of the "Digital Millenium Copyright Act" fool you. It's not the same as traditional copyright law... if it was, then there'd be no need for a new law, of course.

According to established copyright rules, Real has no basis whatsoever for preventing folks from decoding, translating, or recording their streams. (In particular, they have no standing, because they generally don't own the copyrights on the data itself!)

The DMCA is a whole different ballgame. Basically, it makes it illegal to intentionally circumvent copy-protection mechanisms. If data is encoded transparently, and you just translate it into a different code, that's fine. But if it's encrypted, and by that I mean deliberately encoded in such as way as to make it difficult to decode it, then it's covered by the DMCA.

So let's assume that RealMedia is an extremely hairy file format. If it's extremely hairy because Real uses lousy programmers, then Streambox is fine. If, on the other hand, it's extremely hairy because Real doesn't want anyone else to be able to decode it, then Streambox is breaking the law.

I think it's clear that it's the latter, and Streambox is in trouble. But that's just an indication of how fundamentally wrong the whole idea of the DMCA is. It's nothing more than a tool for shoring up monopolies.

Makes you wonder why the government is going after Bill Gates like he's the antichrist, but handing more power to his competitors. (Could it have something to do with Microsoft's refusal to participate in the our system of government-by-lobbyist?)

(IA, of course, NAL.)

Re:Why Not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446682)

Start of rant

Oh, get a fuckin life.

I'll bet your the same asshole who bitches all day that this new years eve is not the true millennium! You whine to all your loser friends that you and you alone are the only one who really gets it and everyone else is just a troll on a lower plane of existance.

Hemos is workin on Chrismas Eve to try to bring us a little content and your beating him up. Why dont you show a little gratitude you pussy.

You could have just sent him a note over mail, rather than AC him.

Shitheads like you pale in comparison to the First Posters and trolls. At least their funny.

Your post added nothing to the thread except that you a anal retentive loser.

/. is getting beat up a little these days because of this kind of shit and I for one am really gettig tired of you 14 year old's attempting to be "big shots".

Let it ride next time, no one owes you anything.

End of rant.

Least-censorship routing protocols? (1)

Myself (57572) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446683)

"The Net treats censorship as damage and routes around it." - John Gilmore

In Theory, But... (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446684)

If I'm not mistaken, the DMCA allows for the breaking of a protection code if it is for the purposes of interoperability.

Streambox may indeed win, but not without a lengthy legal battle. RealNetworks is a pretty rich company. I don't know how much Streambox has in the bank, but even if RealNetworks loses, they would still hope to cripple Streambox with legal fees.

You also need to remember that "conservative" copyright laws and rights (those against copying) seem to supersede "liberal" copyright laws and rights (those in favour of allowing copying and freedom) in the U.S.

Consider this: if the identities and locations of those responsible for the DVD crack were known, Hollywood and the DVD player manufacturers would probably stop at nothing to sue the pants off them. Sure, the DVD crackers could say, "This was done for interoperability, to allow the DVDs to be played from Linux." But here we have a "liberal" IP issue -- the exception in the digital millennium copyright act (DMCA) that allows breaking copy protection for interoperability -- going up against a "conservative" IP issue -- "contributory infringement" and DMCA's "no breaking copy protection" rule. You could argue interoperability, but the "conservative" side -- the movie industry -- would still win.

Why? Possibly because, as another poster put it, "money talks." It could also be due to the current air of economic protectionism sweeping the United States at the moment.

If RealNetworks loses, that would make the movie studios and record comapnies nervous. How can we put our content online without worrying someone will create a cracking tool and argue interoperability? Of course, in many cases, the creators of such tools are anonymous or so obscure, they are never found, and their tools circulate the Internet anyway. "Outlaw copy protection breakers, and only outlaws will have copy protection breakers." And as we all know, the studios and record companies scarcely sustain any damage from this, anyway.

But if RealNetworks wins, the record companies and movie studios will feel strong. They will think they'll do well. People will invest money in them. The U.S. economy will continue to grow! The U.S. government is currently passing laws to protect e-commerce, to ensure its widespread acceptance by the public, and to assist big business in taking over the Net. Are there any Mac users reading? Notice how Sherlock2 touts itself as "...your online shopper..." Did the original Sherlock say that? I didn't see much of the "old Net," and that which I did see, I can scarcely remember... (Sigh...)

Anyway, I'd hate to sound defeatist, but this appears to be the natural order of things these days. Isn't there another story on Slashdot right know about IP lawyers and how they think? IP lawyers must be in big demand right now.

So, to summarize: RealNetworks will probably win, because (1) since the DMCA can be used in their favour, it will; (2) they're on the side of the RIAA and movie studios; (3) they're big business-friendly; (4) they are (apparently) helping the American economy.

...But I still hope that Streambox will win instead.

Re:RealNetworks just wants a "legal" monopoly (1)

Lysander Luddite (64349) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446685)

I don't think it is the fact of storing or copying the files that Real objects to. It is the transfer into another file format. Real bases its business on providing content in their file format. If said content can easily be converted to another format (like MP3) then they lose a competitive advantage in their eyes.

They sign contracts to have content available in their format. The fact that WIMP can play it back may be bad, but if the content provider goes to WIMP format then they lose money on both the format and playback. To a businessman it is intolerable that somebody could take their content, convert it to another format, and listen to it using a competitor's product. If such practice happened often enough they'd be out of business in the medium to long term. Since this is Real's only business they call the lawyers.

Microsoft will probably do the same if somebody converts their format to MP3 and it threatens to gain popular appeal.

I think Real will still lose. Although why such a crappy product succeeded in the first place is beyond me.

O! The futility inherit in this debate... (1)

Levine (22596) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446686)

When will everyone realise that if audio can be played, it can be recorded - and recorded to anything, be it WAV or MP3 or WMA or frickin' cassette tapes. Audio out to audio in, hit record, hit play.

Now is RealNetworks going to sue me because I'm defeating their copy protection? Give me a break. I've had a thing against Real since I was forced (!) to upgrade to the latest RealPlayer, which proceeded to try and hijack every single audio and video file extension present in the known universe and claim it as it's own. I was even 'strongly discouraged' (from the installation wizard) from unbinding these extensions. That sort of thing annoys me to no end.



Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446687)

Not all of us bend over and give three cheers for materialism.

X-FileGet (1)

Megalomaniac (104145) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446688)

anyone see the image next to Streambox VCR on the former download page? X-FileGet, which downloaded RealMedia from streaming servers, and Ra2Wav (probably Streambox Ripper now) used to be made by 2B Systems ( And it looks like goes to . Hmm.. name change, or buy out? Dunno. But I've still got those apps laying around on my weendoze partition.
Btw, Anyone know of any linux app that will suck files from a Real streaming server? it'd be nice...

Realplayer bites my ass.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446694)

Until Xamp can play RA files, the law is against me.

Premature? (2)

ewhac (5844) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446695)

I thought the Digital Milennium Copyright Act didn't go into effect until next year.

(The thing that I find intensely curious is that anti-spam legislation has been stalled left and right, but utter garbage like the DMCA flies through like greased lightning. sigh)


More bad legislation leads to more abuses (2)

Bitscape (7378) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446697)

This is only going to get worse if we can't get these nasty laws to stop getting passed, and repeal the already existing bad ones. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening anytime soon.

What's next? A ban on disseminating knowledge about the internals of the Real protocol? Oh, and while we're at it, we better make sure nobody knows how TCP/IP works, cause then they could use a packet sniffer to capture copyrighted data.

Question for lawyers: If this nonsense stands, does that mean VCRs could also be made illegal? By the same rational, tv stations could sue Magnavox for enabling copyright infringers. Maybe it's just as well VCRs were invented when they were, so they could become established before the copyright Nazis took over.

Streambox's press-release: (5)

Zippy the Pinhead (3531) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446698)

Seattle court issues temporary restraining order against Streambox To prevent sale and distribution of streaming technology products

SEATTLE - Streambox, Inc. ( [] ), a leading provider of proprietary streaming technologies for searching, acquiring, playing and managing audio and video files on and from the Internet, must temporarily halt the development, production and sale of various company products, pending a full hearing January 7, due to a temporary restraining order issued here today, the company has announced.

The restraining order was issued by the U.S. District Court in response to an action filed by RealNetworks (RNWK), which alleged that three products - Streambox Ripper, Streambox VCR and Streambox Ferret - have caused irreparable harm to RealNetworks.

"Their main complaint is that our Streambox Ripper product allows content owners to control file format, not RealNetworks. . But we believe that the larger picture of Real's whole tactic is about preventing migration of digital media files from RealMedia to other platforms, such as Microsoft's Windows Media," said Robert Hildeman, chief executive officer of Streambox. "We think that's unfair to both consumers and content providers." In view of the serious impact of the restraining order with respect to Streambox's business, the court also ordered that Real Networks post a $1 million dollar bond to cover any loss to Streambox if the Court later finds that the restraining order was wrongfully issued.

RealNetworks also alleged in the action that Streambox had violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and copyright infringement.

"I don't understand why they are alleging this when our products and technologies truly benefit the content providers and consumers," Hildeman said.

Hildeman said Streambox plans to release a version of its Streambox Ripper product that does not convert RealNetworks' media format. Streambox Ripper is a powerful utility that converts CD and other audio files to the popular MP3 format, allowing MP3 users to listen to millions of previously unavailable audio files, from music to audiobooks, talk radio, interviews and much more.

With the recent explosion of digital music on the Internet, and with the proliferation of popular portable MP3 players like RCA's Lyra, Diamond's Rio, Creative's Nomad and others, Streambox Ripper stands to play a pivotal role in providing much more audio content than ever before imagined, Hildeman said.

About Streambox:

Streambox is the world leader in the searching, indexing and categorizing of streaming media content on the Internet. The company offers full services in Internet streaming technologies that deliver end-to-end solutions for the searching, playing, acquiring, converting and transporting of streaming audio and video files.

Founded in 1999, Streambox provides Internet users with a powerful media portal, search engine and guide. The company extends its powerful technologies to a family of innovative audio and video software for PCs and other devices.

The combined technologies enable the company's customers to enjoy the fastest-growing segment of the Internet - streaming entertainment and information.

Contacts: Bob Hildeman, Streambox

Bob Silver, The Silver Company

they can't control it! (1)

The Tomer (4213) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446700)

When will they realize that they will never be able to stop us from getting the music? it happend with csc, realaudio, and it will happend with others as well. once it goes on the computer, someone will eventually figure a way to crack it. They shouldn't sue them- if they hadn't done it, someone else would have.
A wise man once said that peace is a dream. Let's all be dreamers.

Slightly-offtopic (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446703)

Some enterprising individual out there needs to make "Digital Millenium Copyright Act" toilet paper. I say this, because that's about the amount of respect I have for this act. It also reflects my devotion to obey laws which only benefit a few wealthy individuals and that devotion is none.

copyright? I don't see violation (3)

MattMann (102516) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446705)

If the claim is that this software allows the circumvention of copyright restrictions on Real Networks encoded content, then the Ferret would seem to be akin to a photocopier: it allows copying, rather than engages in it. As long as users don't keep copies, where's the violation?

What am I missing?

Hrm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446706)

Seems to me like it's "We can't compete with M$ so we'll try to get
a quick buck and some publicity from a lawsuit!"

But I can't say that I ever liked Real anyways,
so I guess I'm biased.

VCRs and ripping (1)

Lx (12170) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446712)

It's kind of interesting they called one of their products the StreamBox VCR - the software essentially has the function of a VCR or audio tape recorder - yet those things aren't illegal. I hope they see the similarity in court. It would be hypocritical to prevent this product from being on the market while allowing VCRs and tape recorders to be sold.

It's also worth noting that both VCRs and tape recorders were originally hailed as a horrible thing for the TV and music industry, but it hasn't turned out that way...
but if Amazon can patent one-click shopping, I'm sure RealNetworks could win this.

Re:Slightly-offtopic (2)

JoeShmoe (90109) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446713)

Damn, that made me shoot soda out my nose but it was totally worth it.

I wish I had moderator points right now...

Re:So what is the Brittish spelling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446714)

No we don't. The British spelling is also millennium (and there's one t in British).

Re:More bad legislation leads to more abuses (1)

K8Fan (37875) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446715)

It was Disney and Universal vs. Sony over the Betamax. It went to the Supreme Court, and the gist of the opinion was (IMO) a privacy issue. That Americans have the right to do what they wish in the privacy of their own home.

This is why we have three branches in our when the legislature is too beholden to special interests, and too dependent on getting re-elected, the appointed-for-life Justices will balance it out by canceling bad laws.

Pretty damn smart, those Founding Fathers.

Re:Some Comments (3)

ralphclark (11346) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446716)

the DMCA allows for the breaking of a protection code if it is for the purposes of interoperability. Since it's clear that transcoding RealAudio files to MP3 files would enable the song to be played in new environments (e.g., on a Rio), the creation of a transcoding tool is solidly within the realm of the DMCA's exception.

This is a very good point (you should have been a lawyer!) but unfortunately it's not the whole story.

There are new technologies in the pipeline to be released very soon, which will allow content providers to control access to their media to a much greater degree than is currently possible. I'm not just talking about the RIAA's MP3 replacement, but all downloadable digital media. What they do is to wrap the content up in an encrypted packet with a programmatic key which allows you to open it only once for each time you pay.

In other words, somewhat like the PITA streaming Real Video movies, you can play it but you can't keep it and play it again later (without paying, anyway). It's pay-per-play.

There is a great deal of pressure coming from the big media industry players and the newbie internet media wannabees to allow them this level of control over their media, content, IP or whatever you want to call it. The DMCA was engineered by precisely the same forces for just this reason.

So, whatever the rights and wrongs of it, you can't expect them to sit by and watch their latest extortion racket get rolled over by your liberal interpretation of their new law. This law is not about fairness or balance or any kind of compromise, it is about letting them keep complete control of what they see as theirs.

Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
Thought exists only as an abstraction

This suit might be a fair one (1)

doublem (118724) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446717)

I know I'll probably get roasted alive for this, but I think I'll have to agree with this lawsuit. Companies need to have a format for distributing copyrighted material. How many musicians would there be if there was no way for them to make money off it??

The big things that validate the lawsuit in my mind involve the usurping of the RealPlayer application and replacing logos and search engine links (The whole thing.) How would you feel if someone took YOUR source code and removed all evidence that you'd ever worked on it? This goes beyond a neat hack, they altered the functionality of a program without the propper authorization, jeopardizing the revenue source. If it were just a bunch of hackers who did it for fun and GPLed the results I say "So what?" But if someone is making money off this hack......

Re:A place to download (1)

ti_dave (120583) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446718)

and for those interested in Streambox VCR, xe

apparently this is an earlier version...
all links I found to X-FileGet were referred to

Re:RealNetworks, a Baby Microsoft? (2)

sporty (27564) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446720)

Um, sounds more like the RIAA of file formats, trying to not people decode their 'uncopyable' format.


Microsoft did this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446722)

This is similar to what Microsoft did to Stac! When Stac sued MS, MS sued Stac for reverse engineering.

Injured geek wins against Mattel, Mattel still retaliates! []

Re:This suit might be a fair one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446723)

Wrong, Streambox Ferret just installs second datafile/search. RealPlayer recognizes it and displays second search engine. logo and search remains available by defualt by user's choice.

unfuck.exe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446730)

That reminds me... is there any news regarding this program?

20th post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446731)


Re:Millenium [sic] (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446732)

I resent this being marked redundant. This site should be 'News for nerds who can't spell. Stuff that matters if you're a Slashdot lackey.'

Re:More bad legislation leads to more abuses (2)

Brad Andrews (18226) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446733)

Actually, the Disney corporation tried to sue major VCR manufacturers in the early 80's because they were used for "pirating" copywrited works. I don't remember specifics but I believe the judge ruled against them because VCRs have a few legitimate uses, like home movies or cable-access shows that give explicit permission to copy. That fact also seems pertinent to the whole RIAA vs. MP3 argument, and I'm interested in seeing how someone can get around such a clear-cut precedent.

DMCA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446734)

the DMCA is disrespectful to most of the population, violate it at will.

Is it incorporation or lawyers that are to blame? (2)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446735)

Is it perhaps a law of nature that, when otherwise rational individuals aggregate into corporations, all pretence to sanity and logic disappears and the result is the collective equivalent of a blithering idiot?

We've had so many examples of this happening in the last few days that it seems quite possible.

Or is it merely that corporations work in an environment where lawyers lay the ground rules, and the utter cluelessness of many in the legal profession and amorality of the rest tars everyone in the company with the brush of insanity?

So what is the Brittish spelling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1446736)

US spelling is Millennium, but the Brits use the word with an 'l' or 'n' dropped. I made the same mistake, knocked someone's spelling on a list and, well, I forgot the list was an international one.

A place to download (5)

bravehamster (44836) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446737)

Since they had to take it off their site, get it here.

Streambox ripper []

is taping a song off the radio illegal ? (1)

dciman (106457) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446739)

Well I guess anyone who has taped a song off of the radio or their favorite Simpsons episode off of tv had better look out now...someone is going to sue you.

Some Comments (5)

dew (3680) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446748)

If I'm not mistaken, the DMCA allows for the breaking of a protection code if it is for the purposes of interoperability. Since it's clear that transcoding RealAudio files to MP3 files would enable the song to be played in new environments (e.g., on a Rio), the creation of a transcoding tool is solidly within the realm of the DMCA's exception. I'm quite sure Streambox will win this case and collect their $1M bond from RealNetworks.

Incidentally, if this is the way things turn out, it will greatly strengthen the argument of those advocating Linux DVD solutions - it will show that the DMCA really meant what it says: it's okay to transcode for interoperability!

I think it should be clear who to cheer for.

David E. Weekly (dew, Think)

could be worse (2)

browser_war_pow (100778) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446749)

I don't like it anymore than the other guy, but at least it is over something with some substance like protecting artists' work and not a patent.

Sour Grapes (2)

348 (124012) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446750)

This is just sour grapes, plain and simple. It's my understanding that the millenium act doesent even go into effect until next year. Thee following from the Standard [] s article [] is just as dumb:

Filing the suit demonstrates the importance of digital copyrights in the digital age," said Alex Alben, RealNetworks vice president of government affairs. "We will take significant action to ensure that programming and content delivered by RealNetworks products is protected."

Protected?, Although not as easy as MP3, there really was no great "protections" scheme to begin with. If they spent half of their time working toward securing the media as they did with "Cookie Collection", this may not have happened at all.

RealPlayer has been downloaded 92 million times from RealNetwork's Web site. The software allows users to "stream" copyrighted audio and video files to their desktop. But unlike an open-source format like MP3, RealPlayer won't allow end users to make additional copies or distribute the material to others."

Yeah, Right.

It's not like it matters (1)

HeghmoH (13204) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446751)

This whole thing is irrelevant. The court date is set for early January, and we all know that the world is ending in just a tad over a week.

Open Source (2)

vectro (54263) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446752)

Are there any projects working on getting an Free Software realplayer? I'd love to run realplayer on my Debian system.

Mabye we can get streambox to release the source...

Re:is taping a song off the radio illegal ? (1)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1446753)

Or, to follow the analogy more closely, someone is going to sue my VCR manufacturer.


"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

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