RealNetworks Destroying Dutch Webmaster's Life Because He Linked To A Reverse Engineered Alternative

from the seriously? dept

Via Slashdot, we get the story of a Dutch webmaster who is involved in a ridiculous lawsuit that RealNetworks (it still exists?) is putting him through. Apparently there's a bit of free software out there called Real Alternative which, not surprisingly, is an alternative player for Real Media files. RealNetworks hasn't been happy about this software for a while, even though it seems unlikely that many people still encode things in Real Media's format. Either way, the company was successful in scaring the main distribution source about a year ago and has since gone after others.

However, in this case, it seems pretty clear that they've gone way too far. They sued a Dutch webmaster, Hilbrand Edskes, not because he was hosting or distributing the software, but because he had a link to the software on a webpage he maintains that lists a variety of freeware programs. It's not hard to find all sorts of sites, including big names like CNET, that still distribute Real Alternative. Yet for whatever reason, it appears Real Networks chose to go after this guy for maintaining a list of freeware programs.

Making matters even more confusing and ridiculous, is that it appears that Edskes actually did remove the link when asked. Real claims he did not, but the company who seized his computers (after a judge ordered it, following a court filing from Real) admits that the links were actually removed right after he was told to remove them, and Edskes' hosting company also confirms, via its backups, that he removed the link. But Real still saw the link at a later date due to some DNS caching... so it's pushing ahead with the lawsuit. The article details how it's already cost Edskes €66,000 in legal fees, and Real is asking for about €210,000 in fines and for its own €75,000 legal fees.

Even if Real Alternative is infringing (a claim that I think is pretty questionable in its own right), it's pretty ridiculous to then sue someone just for linking to it, and to continue to sue him even after he shows that he removed the link in question. Real Networks was famous for having some nasty business practices and for forcing crapware on people, and it seems to be continuing that trend in the legal world as well.


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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    Mike, you really just don't get it.

    Without exposure, without the links, "real alternative" would be a non-issue, as nobody would ever know about it. It takes promotion and exposure to get a product to be known by the masses and used.

    The location of the actual file should not be material to intent, which was to distribute the "alternative".

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 10:30am

      Re:

      Troll be trolling.

       

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      Eric J, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 10:32am

      Re:

      He was providing information. He didn't care if people used that product or not.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 10:44am

        Re: Re:

        Yup, and without providing a link, that information would have been worthless and meaningless. Without the product linked, he had nothing.

        This is the type of situation where they guy attempts to seperate himself from illegal activity by not hosting the content, but only makes his money by having the content on his site. It is a paradox that only could past muster on Techdirt.

        Remember, Mike doesn't support piracy, he just appears to support sites and ideas that support piracy.

         

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          The Logician (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 10:50am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Unfortunately, AC #7, you deliberately misstate the facts. Logically, it is no different than a listing in the phone book showing where things may be found. And you cannot point to any law which says alternative products may not be advertised. You overvalue content and have chosen to see only what you want to see, not what actually is. Most illogical.

          Also, this is one example for why the forced dissolution of corporations and companies should be allowed.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:36am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You ain't very logical for a Logician. If anything, you seem to be totally biased based on a preconceived opinion of how things will turn out. How very human of you.

            The difference between this and a listing in the phone book is that this listing was created by the site owner, reviewed, and with additional information provided. He didn't give up a blank ad space and let them just have whatever there, he didn't just bot all pages and sort them (like a search engine), he manually reviewed pages and lists features and benefits of the software that is distributed via links on his site.

            He knew what was on the link, and listed it anyway. He gets to enjoy the consequences of his actions.

             

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              Planespotter, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:47am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              and CNET? hxxp://download.cnet.com/Real-Alternative/3000-2139_4-10698783.html ?

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:52am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Why the fuck should there be consequences for linking to a fucking codec you twat?

               

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              Mike42 (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:52am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Really? You know this how? And why would the guy expect freeware to be illegal (infringing on a f**king software patent!!!)? Obviously he removed the link when asked. If he knew it was illegal and didn't care, he would have left the link up.

              By your logic, if someone asks where a crackhouse is, and a person tells them, that person is guilty of selling crack.

              Quick! Drop everything and take the bar exam! You'll pass in a second.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:54am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Wait...

              So, if I review software and find it does what it proposes to do. Does so well or not, put my review on my site, and link to the software I am now legally responsible for that software and any infringement it has?

              That would of course destroy the freeware, shareware, and garage shop application market, giving the corporate application market more business. Oh, wait... isn't that exactly what this is about... again?

               

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              duffmeister (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 12:20pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Did he even once deliver a copy of the software himself via any method? All he did is tell people where to pick it.

              So if you point out a crack house down the corner did you distribute crack?

               

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              The Logician (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 1:11pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Your logic is flawed, AC #39. You have no way of knowing what procedures he used to construct the site, given that you were not there when he built it. And again, nowhere is the advertising or the existence of legitimate alternative products illegal. Why are you so in favor of oppressive and overbearing measures for trivial actions?

               

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                The Logician (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 1:17pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Also, has has been pointed out above, merely pointing to where something is does not make you accountable for it. If I were to tell you where you could find a piece of software, that does not make me liable for any infractions that software may or may not be accused of. Merely giving factual information is neither illegal nor is it wrong. Liability must only be applied at the source, and nowhere else. If it needs to be applied at all. Discretion would be a skill you and others like you should learn, AC #39.

                 

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              Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 4:52pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              So because he putted information about something, used that thing he should have known everything about it?

              That is just stupid LoL

              Do you know where your groceries come from? Immigration should knock on your door and fine you for supporting illegal workers LoL

              Do you bought an iPhone? should you be responsible for all those people who committed suicide on Foxconn? You should know Foxconn is bad why do you support it?

               

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          Ed C., Aug 26th, 2011 @ 10:57am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "It's not hard to find all sorts of sites, including big names like CNET, that still distribute Real Alternative"

          No, it's idiots like you who can't let such things like facts, or even grade school reading comprehension, get in the way of hyperbole.

           

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          DandonTRJ (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 10:59am

          Re: Re: Re:

          You're right, with only a name, there's no way anyone could find the corresponding software. Thank goodness we live in a world without web-based portals that allow us to locate things through word searches. Can you imagine the consequences of such a dangerous reality? If a crazy world like that ever comes to fruition, I certainly hope we take the next logical step of banning any and all discussion of things that companies don't like to ensure they are never upset by anything ever.

           

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          John Fenderson (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 1:02pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Ummm...

          This guy wasn't pirating. He wasn't even linking to pirated software. He linked to software that is accused of patent infringement.

          Different animal entirely.

          Also, he wasn't trying to insulate himself from or evade responsibility about anything at all. He ran a site which linked to a lot of freeware and shareware. This program just happened to be one that had a legal problem, and when this was pointed out to him, he removed the link.

          This person in no way did anything illegal or even remotely immoral by any rational standard, even the most draconian ones.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 8:32pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Then Real gets a stupid judge to issue orders based on their own inability to use the refresh button in their own browser. Disgusting.

             

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          Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 3:09pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Remember, Mike doesn't support piracy, he just appears to support sites and ideas that support piracy.

          This demonstrates how dangerous your ideas are. You don't seem to understand the difference between supporting somebody's right to do something and supporting what they do.

          I support the right of people to lobby for gun control, or against gay marriage, or to give America back to the Indians, even though I would disagree agree with EVERY ONE of those ideas.

          You don't understand freedom.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 4:39pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Testing your faith

            Quote:
            In 1990 the Journal of Homosexuality published a double issue which was later republished as a book entitled Intergenerational Intimacy Historical, Socio-Pyschological and Legal Perspective. In this book a number of writers make the case for relaxing the laws against sex between adult men and boys. The volume also includes two short responses, extremely critical of adult/child sexual relationships.

            In the forward to the volume, Gunter Schmidt presents a sympathetic view of pedophilia.

            Pedophile relationships are extremely varied, despite their common features, too varied to allow us to use the term "sexual abuse" as a synonym without being guilty of discriminating against and defaming a whole group of people.

            There are, even where no physical force or pressure is exerted, relationships which are exploitative, damaging, and blind to the child's needs; there are also relationships in which children realize that the adult is in a weak position because of the law and use this power in the a blackmailing fashion. And there are successful pedophile relationships which help and encourage the child, even though the child often agrees to sex while really seeking comfort and affection. These are often emotionally deprived, deeply lonely socially isolated children who seek , as it were, a refuge in an adults' love and for whom, because of their misery, see it as a stroke of luck to have found such an 'enormously nurturant relationship.'... It looks as though children who are not emotionally deprived are, so to speak 'immune' to the advances of an adult seeking sexual contact. Each individual case must be looked upon on its own merits and, for this reason the threat to make all pedophile acts punishable by law can barely be labeled civilized; on the contrary, it is unjust, for it implies the discrimination and persecution of a minority and should be abolished.

            THE PEDOPHILES' PLAN FOR LEGALIZING THEIR PERVERSION

            Quote:
            But in the second stage, Mirkin says, the discussion must move on to such issues as the "right" of children to have and enjoy sex.

            If this paradigm shift could be accomplished, the issue would move from the moral to the political arena, and therefore become open to negotiation. For example, rather than decrying sexual abuse, lawmakers would be forced to argue about when and under what conditions adult/child sex could be accepted. Once the issues becomes "discussible," it would only be a matter of time before the public would begin to view paedophilia as another sexual orientation, and not a choice for the paedophile.

            On the Pedophilia Issue:
            What the APA Should Have Known


            Some people don't want ever to consider that sexual acts between children and adults(the legal definition of it) could ever be consensual and good, right now it is clear cut for the legal system and a very vocal part of the population is against muddying the issue with things like when it is good for the child to have sexual relations? it is always harmful?

            The issue discussed by some is about sexuality and how people learn about it, should it really have an age limit defined by a government? or should it be something that society should learn to define by itself?

            That is not the same thing as trying to punish rapists, that causes real harm to people no matter what their age or sex is.

            Still that is not a subject I like to discuss or am interested in the fact is that, there are groups of people that also deserve to be heard if we believe that everybody have a right to be heard then paedophiles, racists and violent speech and hate speech also should be tolerate and be able to let those groups speak out about it.

            Would you be able to go defend those people in public?
            Because if you are not, than you are just being the same thing as the other guy there just in the opposite side of the same coin.

            I would defend their right to free speech, I may hate their guts, but they should be able to say anything they want to.

             

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            Ed C., Aug 26th, 2011 @ 4:39pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            On the contrary, they understand freedom, they just hate it! To them, anything that doesn't support their need for control is evil.

             

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          Michael, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 6:55pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          What piracy? Real Alternative is a free program... Never been found to be an illegal free program, just an alternative to a crappy one.

           

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          indieThing (profile), Aug 29th, 2011 @ 4:23am

          Re: Re: Re:

          You might want to check your facts, as the links are to freeware - no piracy involved, unless you happen to have such a large sense of privelege that you believe all competing works are illegal!

           

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            Lisa Westveld (profile), Aug 29th, 2011 @ 5:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Actually, "Real Alternative" is not likely to be freeware, but just illegal software. The creator of this software copied files from RealNetworks, combined this with some open-source files that were also from RealNetworks, added an icon from RealNetworks to make it look more like the Real software, and then distributed it as if it's freeware.
            "Free Alternative" is very likely to be illegal, but no court has been able to judge this since no defendant can be found. This also means that no default judgement is possible, since courts don't even know which court would have proper jurisdiction...
            RealNetworks is likely going to use Edskes as defendant for Real Alternative. When this happens, the software could be declared illegal. Right now, many site owners have already removed the software out of concerns for legal consequences.

             

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      Another AC, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 10:52am

      Re:

      Wow. So much wrong here I'm pretty sure everyone here can figure it out themselves, no need to provide a rebuttal to this complete nonsense.

       

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      Gwiz (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 10:54am

      Re:

      The location of the actual file should not be material to intent, which was to distribute the "alternative".

      Next you will be telling us that SourceForge is evil too, because it distributes *alternatives* to all kinds of stuff.

      (I put alternatives in air quotes, because the OS's from MS and Apple and most of the software that runs on them are now the alternatives to Linux/GPL and OSS for me personally)

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 1:51pm

        Re: Re:

        You can air quote all you like, there is a great difference between a selection of independant OSes and a reverse engineered system to bypass someone's rights.

        SO I guess that's "okay" for "pirating people" to "use" without needing "permission", right?

        Sheesh!

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 2:09pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          First, the alternative has not been ruled to be illegal. They cared the distributor, not won a case against.

          Second, he linked to it. He did not have it on his system for download. He didn't offer it for download, himself. You are basically saying it's illegal for him to point at a site that offers it for download, which we are all calling you out on, since that's bull.

          Your self-righteousness pegs you as either an anti-TD troll, or someone who works/shills for Real. I'm guessing the former. If so, learn to do a better job.

           

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          Gwiz (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 2:15pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You can air quote all you like, there is a great difference between a selection of independant OSes and a reverse engineered system to bypass someone's rights.

          Umm. Have you actually checked out the repositories on any decent Linux distro lately? For just about any popular Windows application there is an open source alternative for it. From MS Office all the way up to AutoCAD and most everything in between.

          SO I guess that's "okay" for "pirating people" to "use" without needing "permission", right?

          Not sure what that means, but it is just fine and dandy to reverse engineer and create a product with the same functionality as something else. (See the automobile aftermarket parts industry for examples)

          I see the argument put forth all the time here that people should just create their own content and not *steal* other peoples. Well, that is exactly what OSS is all about, creating alternatives. Is that somehow bad now? Why? Because some large company isn't profiting from it?

           

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      Lisa Westveld (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:01am

      Re:

      Please keep in mind that in this case, Dutch laws apply, not the US laws! We in the Netherlands have slightly different laws for these cases.

       

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        Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 4:38pm

        Re: Re:

        So... which laws apply, then? Is it illegal to link to non-infringing content? That must make publishing web sites pretty... exciting. Or maybe no Dutch web sites include any links at all?

        Of course, maybe what you mean is that Real Alternative has been judged illegal in the Netherlands. Is there a court case you can link to? That would be interesting too. That and the fact that you're held liable for infringing content on somebody else's website.

         

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          Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 4:43pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          OK, NOW I've just read your comments in other threads and I have more context for this remark.

           

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          Lisa Westveld (profile), Aug 27th, 2011 @ 2:41am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Real Alternative hasn't been declared illegal anywhere, yet. But that's because of technical reasons, since this software has no defender to bring to court. Also, which court should handle this case? No one even knows where this software has been created so the proper jurisdiction is unknown. All RealNetworks can do is to go after the distributors and in this case, they apparently did.

           

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      Jay (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:02am

      Re:

      "The location of the actual file should not be material to intent, which was to distribute the "alternative"."

      This story just helped me find a great "alternative" to Real Networks. Mission accomplished.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:07am

        Re: Re:

        "This story just helped me find a great "alternative" to Real Networks. Mission accomplished."

        LOL, me too. Now if only I could go back in time to when people still used that shitty format.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2011 @ 5:04am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The only reason they even survived was they got AOL (and to a minor extent Comcast) to embrace their software. In fact, one of the biggest reasons I stopped using AOL was because of its continued use of Realnetworks crapware. Actually I shouldn't call it crapware, I should call it malware, because that what most of their products are.

           

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      Some Other AC, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:53am

      Re:

      "Making matters even more confusing and ridiculous, is that it appears that Edskes actually did remove the link when asked. Real claims he did not, but the company who seized his computers (after a judge ordered it, following a court filing from Real) admits that the links were actually removed right after he was told to remove them, and Edskes' hosting company also confirms, via its backups, that he removed the link. But Real still saw the link at a later date due to some DNS caching..."
      Wow, utter and complete reading comprehension fail on this one. Please see the quoted text above. Edskes removed the link(s) per request. It was confirmed by multiple sources. RealNetworks sues anyways because of in-built nature of the Internet and WWW.

       

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      Richard (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:54am

      Re:

      Without exposure, without the links, "real alternative" would be a non-issue, as nobody would ever know about it.
      Cobblers!

      Just ype "Real player Alternative" into Google and you will get to it.

      Why don't they go after Google.

      Anyway realplayer is freeware (free beer) so whaT IS THE POINT.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 3:00pm

      Re:

      You say that as if every webmaster should be able to tell the difference between every legitimate software offering and illegitimate. That's an impossibly high standard given that the difference between the two often takes months and months of court proceedings to ascertain even for a professional legal expert like a judge. Let's not forget as well that it was just a link and the link was removed as soon as it could have been. What the fuck else is someone supposed to do? Read the damn future?

       

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      btr1701 (profile), Aug 28th, 2011 @ 4:41pm

      Re:

      > The location of the actual file should not be material to intent,
      > which was to distribute the "alternative".

      Considering "the alternative" is legal, why should that even be an issue?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 10:34am

    I shudder to think what the world would be like if RealNetworks has gotten a software patent which covered "the distribution of video and audio via a plugin or standalone product."

     

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      :Lobo Santo (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 10:37am

      Re: Perhaps...

      A better world where the next few dozen patents were things like "how to assassinate judges/patent examiners while not getting caught because they've not lost/repealed that stupid RealNetworks patent".

      Things tend to balance out like that...

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 10:36am

    Yet for whatever reason, it appears Real Networks chose to go after this guy for maintaining a list of freeware programs.


    Sounds to me like the "Real reason" is just like the patent trolls - precedent. CNet and other big companies won't get their equipment seized, and they have big coffers to fight this. If Real can get one win, or a semi-sealed settlement where the guy admits wrongdoing, they might be able to use this to threaten others.

     

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    AG Wright (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 10:47am

    In trouble

    I wonder if I'm in trouble. I've recommended both Real Alternative and it's companion Quicktime Alternative on quite a few web sites and to customers numerous times. I know the web page is gone but I may need to look on archive.org and see if there is a copy.

     

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    fb39ca4 (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 10:51am

    Now that's just mean...

     

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    Lisa Westveld (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 10:58am

    Real Alternative is in a trademark dispute with RealNetworks and uses an icon plus files that are part of the RealNetworks software. These files are copyrighted and RealNetworks wants to take the author of this software to court and put a stop on the distribution of this software.
    Unfortunately, no one knows who the real author is, so RealNetworks can't sue anyone over this. The Dutch webmaster seemed to be a possible candidate to sue, though. He was involved in the distribution of the software and had a few mirrors for the software on his own site, He also seemed to be the first who knew about new releases, making him very suspicious.

    Anyways, the Real Alternative software is probably infringing the RealNetworks products, thus it should be considered illegal. Only problem: RealNetwork doesn't seem to be able to put a stop to it's distribution since it's distributed as if it's freeware.

    Also, even though RealNetworks seized edskes's computers, they had no right to examine their contents without permission from Edskes or the court. They examined the content of these computers without permission and thus RealNetworks broke the law. But Edskes is slowly going bankrupt because of the expenses of this case so it's unlikely that he will be able to sue RealNetworks over this...

     

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      Gwiz (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:06am

      Re:

      ...plus files that are part of the RealNetworks software. These files are copyrighted and RealNetworks wants to take the author of this software to court and put a stop on the distribution of this software.

      Not that I don't believe you, but do you have a citation for that? Are you sure they were copied and not reversed engineered (as the post title suggests)?

       

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        Lisa Westveld (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:13am

        Re: Re:

        I am sure those files were copied. I've installed the software and took a look in the properties of those files. Many are copyrighted by RealNetworks, although some are opensource components from Real. But not all DLLs used by this software are freely copyable.
        Also, there's the trademark dispute. Real Alternative uses the Real.ico icon in a few locations. Plus the name itself could be a trademark dispute since it's a competing product misusing the name "Real".

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:21am

          Re: Re: Re:

          but how can you tell if it wasn't reverse-engineered instead of just copied?

           

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          •  
            icon
            Lisa Westveld (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:27am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The libraries contained the original copyright notices from RealNetworks. If you reverse-engineer some software, why keep the original version information?

             

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        •  
          icon
          Gwiz (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:26am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I am sure those files were copied. I've installed the software and took a look in the properties of those files. Many are copyrighted by RealNetworks, although some are opensource components from Real.

          Fair enough. Although, if only the source of the open source components was used, then that is not infringement.

          But not all DLLs used by this software are freely copyable.

          Not sure what you mean. DLL's can be reversed engineered and functionality approximated fairly easily these days.

          Also, there's the trademark dispute. Real Alternative uses the Real.ico icon in a few locations. Plus the name itself could be a trademark dispute since it's a competing product misusing the name "Real".

          I agree, those do sound like trademark violations.

           

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          •  
            icon
            Lisa Westveld (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Well, if they used the source, they also used the version information from Real. They didn't modify this to show it's a custom build.
            Furthermore, the version information for the OpenSource libraries make it clear that they are open source. These contain the note: "Copyright(c) RealNetworks, Inc. 1995-2009. All rights reserved. Source code for this program is available under the RealNetworks Public Source License."
            Other libraries contain the note: "Copyright © RealNetworks, Inc. 1995-2007" without additional notes about them being opensource.
            Since many DLLs in the software contain the original version information from Real, I can safely assume that RealNetworks created those. They don't seem to be the result of reverse engineering, unless the reverse engineer was stupid enough to also reverse engineer the version resources.

            Btw, you can check this version information from the Windows explorer. Select a DLL, right-click on it and show it's properties. The "Version" tag will display above version information.

             

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            •  
              icon
              Gwiz (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:56am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Well, if they used the source, they also used the version information from Real. They didn't modify this to show it's a custom build.

              As far as I know, you don't have to modify open source to use it in you project. That's what is good about open source - as long as you make your source available, you can do pretty much whatever you want with it.

              Other libraries contain the note: "Copyright © RealNetworks, Inc. 1995-2007" without additional notes about them being opensource.
              Since many DLLs in the software contain the original version information from Real, I can safely assume that RealNetworks created those. They don't seem to be the result of reverse engineering, unless the reverse engineer was stupid enough to also reverse engineer the version resources.


              You're right, those do sound like they were simply copied.

              Btw, you can check this version information from the Windows explorer. Select a DLL, right-click on it and show it's properties. The "Version" tag will display above version information.

              Well, I don't use WinDoze for coding anymore. I also have not bothered with anything having do with RealNetworks in a very long time.

               

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              •  
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2011 @ 7:35pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Well, I don't use WinDoze for coding anymore. I also have not bothered with anything having do with RealNetworks in a very long time.

                that does not give you permission to be stupid or ignorant.

                 

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                •  
                  icon
                  Lisa Westveld (profile), Aug 28th, 2011 @ 1:48am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Also, RealPlayer is also available for Linux and the Mac. And they also offer products for mobile devices like smartphones and iPads. Plus, RealNetworks is behind a gew game sites like Zylom and GameHouse. They offer Cloud services for multimedia services. And Verizon offers Verizon Video services for Android users, but those services are courtesy of RealNetworks. AT&T also works together with RealNetworks to offer video services. In Europe, RealNetworks provides ringtone services for Vodafone.
                  As it turns out, RealNetworks is quite big and chances are that you're already using RealNetwork products. Even if you don't use Windows.
                  I hoped RealNetworks would be nearly dead after RealPlayer was caught as spyware/malware but as it turns out, RealNetwork just managed to grow while staying away from the media. Real nasty!

                   

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                  •  
                    identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2011 @ 2:00am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    I guess they saw that people didn't like their crapware, so the expanded to less public areas of media

                     

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                  •  
                    icon
                    The Logician (profile), Aug 28th, 2011 @ 7:30am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    It still should not be done, because it would set a precedent that is highly likely to be abused by those who fear competition. Better to err on the side of caution and never give corporations more tools to abuse the citizenry with.

                     

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                •  
                  icon
                  Gwiz (profile), Aug 28th, 2011 @ 6:25am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  that does not give you permission to be stupid or ignorant.

                  Thank you for your wonderfully constructive comment. Keep it up.

                   

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          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 2:19pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Is it really a trademark violation if they use the name real to clearly state that that software very specifically is not real player but an alternative for those who very specifically don't want realplayer software.

            It probably is, but should it be?

             

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            •  
              icon
              Lisa Westveld (profile), Aug 27th, 2011 @ 2:45am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I think it should be a violation, yes. Else a lot more trademarks will end up with companies using similar names to offer competing products. People wouldn't be able to see the difference between real and fake anymore. Trademarks exists so customers can recognize their products. Allowing this type of misuse would practically end the trademark value.

               

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              •  
                icon
                The Logician (profile), Aug 27th, 2011 @ 7:31am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Tell me, how is "Real Alternative" confusing? It says exactly what it is - an alternative to RealPlayer. There is no confusion. It is making no claim to being the actual RealPlayer, which - given its history - would not be a good thing to claim. Therefore, because of this, and because you do not support your argument with independently-verifiable evidence, your position is incorrect.

                 

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                •  
                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2011 @ 8:29am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I can see how she thinks it will cause confusion. After all, people are idiots and need to be guided by the hand just to get dressed in the morning

                   

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                •  
                  icon
                  Lisa Westveld (profile), Aug 27th, 2011 @ 1:03pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Hey, you're smart enough to not get confused. I'm not easily confused by it too. Then again, we're above-average in our intelligence. But lesser-intelligent people also use the Internet. They would be confused by something using the name and logo of Real, while it's not endorsed by RealNetworks.
                  Anyway, even if most people aren't confused by this, it's still a trademark dispute which would leave the final word to a Judge and Jury.
                  If only they can find a defender...

                   

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              •  
                identicon
                Prisoner 201, Aug 27th, 2011 @ 5:26pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Go get these guys then:

                http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1489257/

                I mean really.

                 

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    •  
      icon
      ChrisB (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:33am

      Re:

      > He was involved in the _distribution_ of the software

      You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

       

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      •  
        icon
        Lisa Westveld (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:40am

        Re: Re:

        Well, what I mean is that it appeared as if he was offering the software from his own server. On the Dutch IusMensis some guy discovered that a google search for Edskes name combined with Real Alternatives turns up quite a few sites referring to the site of Edskes where the software could be directly downloaded. His site was considered a mirror, probably up until the moment it's official distribution channel stopped distributing it.

         

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      •  
        icon
        NotMyRealName (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 1:57pm

        Re: Re:

        It's -Inconceivable- that anyone doesn't know what that means

        :)

         

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  •  
    identicon
    Ed C., Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:06am

    The "real" issue

    Real being f**kwads isn't what's surprising--it's the fact anyone is still using media encoded with their crapware! This has been known for at least a decade now. Why won't Real just die already?

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:11am

    Two points could use some more details:

    Has Real Alternative been found illegal in a court somewhere?

    According to the article, the guy actually removed the link; but they are still litigating for 43 days of infringement?

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:12am

    Streisand effect

    Not that I use RealNetworks software anymore ( I could have sworn they went out of business years ago ), but thanks to this article I know that there is an alternative I will be sure to give a once over if ever needed in the future.

     

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  •  
    icon
    Charles K. (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:28am

    No-one uses Real Media???

    "though it seems unlikely that many people still encode things in Real Media's format"

    Ah but plenty of government agencies have paid up licenses that they just HAVE to use.

     

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  •  
    icon
    taoareyou (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:28am

    Hmm

    I don't think I have needeed the RealPlayer or an alternative to it since the 90s. I decided to find out what needs it:

    Google Search: "Files encoded with Real Networ.." Bah lost interest. Closed Browser, went back to playing Conan Unchained.

     

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  •  
    icon
    Jimr (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:30am

    Time to boycott RealNetworks

    That is it! Time to boycott RealNetworks. I will never install there software or use it.

    I wonder if there is some Real Alternative to play the RealNetworks files?

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:34am

      Re: Time to boycott RealNetworks

      You're late, everyone's been boycotting them for a decade now by not using their inferior products. If it wasn't for this story, I wouldn't have even known they still existed

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Lisa Westveld (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:35am

      Re: Time to boycott RealNetworks

      Many people already boycotted RealNetworks because their software behaves like malware or spyware. It's almost impossible to remove again from your system. It even amazes me that this company still exists...

       

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  •  
    icon
    candide08 (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:31am

    Real was always the worst software

    so why should people expect the company to be any different?
    They are in the last gasps of existence (actually I thought they were already gone), so I guess it doesn't matter what they do - except to the poor webmaster they decided to pick on.

     

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  •  
    icon
    Robert Doyle (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:36am

    The first rule of fight club...

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:43am

    RealNetworks developed a bad reputation for being spyware long ago. I won't allow it on my machine. Suing someone for offering a link to an alternative is assine to begin with. Doubly so when you consider how they have managed to remain on par with AOL for having crapware for distribution.

    Here's a clue. If it doesn't come in standard formats, playable by any player, then I don't want it and won't get it. If I find that is what it is, then I will delete the thing and be done with it. There is no way in the world that RealNetworks will ever have software on my machine. Not today, not tomorrow, not next year.

     

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  •  
    icon
    Michael (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:57am

    I'm not gonna...

    As a sign of solidarity I am not going to use RealNetworks products or services until they drop this lawsuit. I know I will be sacrificing a lot here...oh wait..real what, who?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Gwiz (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 12:18pm

      Re: I'm not gonna...

      As a sign of solidarity I am not going to use RealNetworks products or services until they drop this lawsuit.

      I'm gonna give away lemonade as my sign of solidarity. That way I get the added bonus of some anonymous moron on the internet calling me a jackass for it.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 12:36pm

    I remember one time at an expo Real Networks was giving away CDs with demos of their product.

    Only problem was the CDs had a virus on them.

    When called on it, they did give me a free full version of their software

     

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    •  
      icon
      John Fenderson (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 1:21pm

      Re:

      Of course those CDs had a virus on them. It's called "RealPlayer".

      Seriously, I also thought they had already gone out of business. I rarely encounter the format anymore, and when I do I immediately convert it to ogm using one of the dozens of freely available converters.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 2:07pm

    Wow, bummed to see Edskes caught up in this. I was using Real Alternative and QT alternative 10 years ago, as well as the k-lite codec pack, all served from edskes mirrors. Thanks to him I was watching dvds in windows media player before I knew about VLC.

    Kind of ironic that Real is a behind the times company getting a mention on Techdirt.

    I knew when I saw the title in my rss feed who they would be going after. What a bunch of jerks.

     

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  •  
    icon
    James (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 2:19pm

    Real Networks

    I sent this over to Real Networks PR asking for a response. I dont think I will get one.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      darryl, Aug 27th, 2011 @ 12:55pm

      Re: Real Networks

      "I sent this over to Real Networks PR asking for a response."

      It's probably being cached in a Domain Name Server !!!! LOL

       

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  •  
    identicon
    darryl, Aug 27th, 2011 @ 2:03am

    Caching DNS !!!

    But Real still saw the link at a later date due to some DNS caching...

    So a Domain Name Server is caching WEB pages now Mike ???

    and here I was thinking that a Domain Name server spent it's time SERVING UP DOMAIN NAMES (that is converting a domain name like 'google.com' to an IP address !!.. silly me ...


    Masnick as this is a typical display of the understanding of anything at all related to the internet.

    But ofcourse, you get found out all the time displaying complete ignorance about most things, does not seem to make you do anything different.

    It's all money in the bank for you Mike, and sure beats a real job..

     

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    •  
      icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 27th, 2011 @ 8:05am

      Re: Caching DNS !!!

      24 hours and this is the best you have?

      He is reporting the facts as Real is reporting them to the court.

      Do you often imagine yourself as Mike, on those lonely nights after a couple of glasses of wine?

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2011 @ 8:30am

        Re: Re: Caching DNS !!!

        Leave him be Anon, this is all he has.

         

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        •  
          identicon
          darryl, Aug 27th, 2011 @ 12:33pm

          Re: Re: Re: Caching DNS !!!

          At least I do not believe a DNS caches web pages LOL...

          and one day, when you have a few years to spare, you can find out what a domain name server does, and how it works...

           

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2011 @ 12:57pm

        Re: Re: Caching DNS !!!

        you can say all you like,,, except that I am wrong :)

         

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2011 @ 8:57am

      Re: Caching DNS !!!

      Darryl, please get help.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Lisa Westveld (profile), Aug 28th, 2011 @ 1:05pm

      Re: Caching DNS !!!

      Let's explain what went wrong with the DNS and it's caching...
      Edskes used the DNS settings for his own domain to redirect links to the Real Alternative application on another system. Thus he did not host the software himself but it was hosted (mirrored) through Edskes domain.
      The DNS system is a network of thousands of computers and each has to replicate any relevant DNS information. To do so, each DNS server will keep a copy of records inside it's cache. As a result, any change in DNS records is only effective once the old records are cleaned from the many caches and replaced with the new values. This could be done within minutes, or it could take up to 48 hours. It just depends on how often the DNS record has been used. Considering the popularity of Edskes site as freeware provider, you can safely assume it's heavily used, thus cached in a lot of places.
      Unfortunately, since the software is outside Edskes server and the cached DNS records point to this outside source, those cached records will thus continue to allow people to download the Real Alternative through the link on Edskes domain for as long as the cache isn't cleared.
      RealNetworks ordered Edskes to remove the link and he complied. Now all that was needed is time until those DNS caches are cleared. RealNetworks was a bit impatient, though.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        darryl, Aug 28th, 2011 @ 3:57pm

        Re: Re: Caching DNS !!!

        nice try lisa,,,,, but what you are trying to say is just as wrong as what masnick said in the first place.

        DNS do not know about 'links' or anthing else, or if something was hosted at another location.

        The SIMPLE fact is, this.

        A DNS converts a DOMAIN NAME to an IP address, the links he was getting in trouble for hosting were AT HIS IP ADDRESS.

        Real probably did not even bother to use a DNS to go to his web site, they would have just typed in his IP address, and the web page that came up had the infringing material on it.

        NOTHING TO DO WITH DNS, and no matter how long it takes the DNS system to update, it DOES NOT CHANGE the content of the IP address it relates too.

        If there is no DNS record, when you type in the domain name NOTHING WILL HAPPEN..

        Basically Mike is willing to LIE to ensure he gets his weak argument across regardless of what people might think of him doing that.....

         

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        •  
          icon
          Lisa Westveld (profile), Aug 28th, 2011 @ 11:54pm

          Re: Re: Re: Caching DNS !!!

          You don't understand the DNS system, do you? Sure, it's main purpose is to translate domain names to IP adresses. You do so with an A (IPv4) or AAAA (IPv6) record. You can also add TXT records for textual information or MX records for mail purposes. And there's the CNAME record which redirects a local subdomain name to a different server.
          I myself use Google Apps on my personal domain, which is very nice but it requires me to add a few subdomains with a CNAME record which point to ghs.google.com and thus... Well, Edskes did something similar by redirecting mirror.edskes.com to another site. The additional path that you add would translate to the same path on the other server.
          If Edskes would remove mirror.edskes.com from the DNS, that subdomain would still be in several caches for up to 48 hours. And thus anyone who uses such a cache would still notice that any link within the subdomain just continues to work.
          Btw, if Real had instead typed his IP adress instead of his domain name, then they would NOT have seen his site! Edskes uses a shared host for his site, thus hundreds of sites share the same IP address. The webserver running those domains just filters all incoming calls, extracts the domain name, then decides which domain is going to handle the request. Go check for yourself. The IP address for edskes.net is 95.211.20.135 and if you go there... Tadaaaa! That's his host you're seeing!

          Are you willing to acknowledge that you're mistaken or are you just trolling here to claim that Mike is wrong?

           

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  •  
    identicon
    darryl, Aug 27th, 2011 @ 12:52pm

    Destroying life

    Sure Mike,,,,

    you dont hype things up do you Masnick !!!!!

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Aug 27th, 2011 @ 1:20pm

    When Real Alternative first came out, it was common knowledge that someone just took the codecs from Real Player and patched them so that they worked in any player. They did the same thing for Quicktime Alternative.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 29th, 2011 @ 8:18am

    What is funny here is that the apologists come out with possibly the best piece of stupid logic that ever existed. Basically, the idea is this:

    "Other cars were speeding too!".

    "that other guy had some weed too!"

    "It's a riot, everyone was looting"

    "other sites offer it, so why go after this one guy?"

    Sometimes the logic of the piracy apologists is beyond understanding.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2011 @ 4:19am

    Goodbye Realnetworks for me.. I've been using their player as an alternative to monopoly.. What's a guy gonna do?..
    It's time to bring back the Golden Rule.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Update, Sep 20th, 2011 @ 4:29am

    The story continues

    The story continues:

    Since it's clear that the lawyers of RealNetworks - P.N.A.M. Claassen and E.F. Vaal of the Dutch law firm AKD Prinsen Van Wijmen Breda - have lied in court, they nor RealNetworks want to respond to any questions of the press.

    But there is more:

    What RealNetworks' liars/lawyers Peter Claassen and Eliėtte Vaal of AKD did on behalf of RealNetworks Inc. was initiate a so called ex-parte proceeding. In this filthy legal proceeding the defendant is not informed at all before the court gives a ruling. This means Claassen and Vaal could tell the judge all lies and one sided points of view they could think of without anyone arguing against it, since there was no hearing.

    The next move after obtaining the ex-parte proceeding was to force the removal of the hyperlink and confiscate computers. This is done by a court accredited party. The plaintiff, RealNetworks, nor its lawyers like Peter Claassen and Eliėtte Vaal of AKD, are allowed any access to the evidence or to get any information about the evidence, unless the defendant gives permission or in case of a new court order. But the accredited forensic IT, digital factfinding and litigation support party, named DigiJuris B.V. Nijkerk, gave information about the evidence to RealNetworks' lawyer Peter Claassen of AKD without permission.

    A recorded phone conversation published on Webwereld.nl between B. Borst from DigiJuris B.V. Nijkerk and RealNetworks' lawyer P.N.A.M. Claassen of AKD clearly shows that the plaintiff got information about the content of the confiscated computers.

    In their dialogue Bas Borst (DigiJuris) and Peter Claassen (RealNetworks) decide that the confiscated computers may only be returned under the condition that the Real Alternative software is deleted, while knowing the application is just an installed version for personal use as can be found on most freeware download sites. You can even hear Bas Borst say that what was found on the computers has nothing to do with programming, distributing or anything like that.

    Knowing that giving the plaintiff any information was strictly prohibited, it is unclear why bailiff E.A. Dragstra of Pranger Agin Gerechtsdeurwaarders en Bewijsbeslagspecialisten allowed Bas Borst to do so. The fact remains that in this way RealNetworks has illegally received information from DigiJuris B.V. Nijkerk' Bas Borst in the presence of bailiff Egbert Dragstra, who was responsible for Bas Borst.

    RealNetworks' lawyer Peter Claassen of AKD started the case in 2008. That makes it striking to see that he still doesn't even know what RealPlayer or Real Alternative is. In the mentioned telephone conversation Bas Borst from DigiJuris B.V. Nijkerk has to explain to the lawyer of RealNetworks that you can play music with it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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