RealNetworks, Inc. v. Streambox, Inc.

No. C99-2070P, 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1889 (W.D. Wash. Jan. 18, 2000)



The Digital Millennium Copyright Act prohibits the manufacture, import, offer to the public, or trafficking in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof that: (1) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a copyrighted work or protects a right of a copyright owner; (2) has only limited commercially significant purpose or use other than to circumvent such technological protection measures; or (3) is marketed for use in circumventing such technological protection measures. 17 U.S.C.S. §§ 1201(a)(2) and 1201(b)


RealNetworks, Inc. ("RealNetworks") filed a copyright infringement suit under the Digital Millennium Act against Streambox, Inc. (“Streambox”) by distributing and marketing products known as the Streambox VCR and the Ripper. RealNetworks contended that another Streambox product, known as the Ferret, is unlawfully designed to permit consumers to make unauthorized modifications to a software program on which RealNetworks holds the copyright.


Does the Digital Millennium Copyright Act prohibit the manufacture or distribution of any product that: (a) is primarily designed to circumvent a technological measure that controls access to a copyrighted work, (b) has only a limited commercially significant use other than circumvention, or (c) is marketed for use in circumvention?




The court entered a preliminary injunction prohibiting defendant from two products allegedly infringing upon plaintiff's copyright after the court held that plaintiff was likely to succeed meritoriously on the claims at trial, and would likely suffer irreparable harm without injunctive relief pending resolution of the underlying DMCA action. Parts of defendant's disputed products were likely to violate 17 U.S.C.S. §§ 1201(a)(2) and 1201(b), given their circumvention capacities. Consumers who used defendant's disputed products were likely to infringe upon plaintiff's rights as a copyright owner, creating an impermissible derivative work in violation of plaintiff's copyright.

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