Why Was The Restraining Order On RealDVD Kept Secret?

from the questions,-questions,-questions dept

Monday morning, we wrote about how a judge had issued a temporary restraining order against RealDVD until he had time to review the details and rule one way or the other on a pre-trial injunction. In our comments, one of our readers suggested this story was incorrect, as there didn't appear to be an actual restraining order on file -- suggesting that Real Networks may have pulled the software on its own. Yet, it turns out that, yes, in fact there was a temporary restraining order, but the judge ordered both sides to keep it secret. This is quite odd, as almost everyone immediately figured it out from Real pulling the software, and then it was confirmed by Real in a filing responding to the court. But all this does is raise a simple question: what could possibly be the rationale for keeping the temporary injunction secret?

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    fat Tony, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 1:46am

    Something I've noticed

    Coming from a government background...
    The scariest thing to an gov employee is public oversight. As soon as you add oversight then there is no room for error...or bribes in some cases. There are only a few good reasons that the public should not know about the governments dealings.
    1. When public disclosure endangers lives of operatives.
    2. When public disclosure truly weakens national security.
    3. When public disclosure impedes on the rights of citizens.
    There are laws in place for these exceptions...everything else is just a pain in the public ass.

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

  2. icon
    PaulT (profile), Oct 7th, 2008 @ 3:03am

    Maybe the judge secretly reads tech blogs and didn't want to read himself getting flamed from everyone who knew what a dumb and pointless decision it was?

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

  3. identicon
    Vincent Clement, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 4:09am

    Re: Something I've noticed

    I'm interested in an example of public disclosure that impedes the rights of citizens?

    As to the other two, I can buy into the operative thing. But I have never been able to agree with point two.

    If something is a matter of national security, shouldn't the populace be aware of the threat and/or what is being done? I suppose the only reason to agree with point two is to avoid or minimize paranoia. Then again, if flight schools knew in advance that terrorists were considering slamming planes into buildings, they may have paid closer attention to their students.

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

  4. identicon
    Ppitstop, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 4:16am

    At least it has stayed sort of secret here

    At least here people had to go through due process and work out what has happened.

    In the UK if a court order keeps something secret the papers just run the story without the identifying facts and say a court is banning them printing them making a farce of the whole process.

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

  5. icon
    rwahrens (profile), Oct 7th, 2008 @ 4:55am



    What if publicizing a secret exposes a technique you used to elicit an opponent's secrets? Perhaps a source he didn't know you had? Or a hole in his security you were actively taking advantage of? If that exposure caused that opponent to close that hole, or eliminate that source, that could "endanger national security", couldn't it? If what we were watching was potentially dangerous, like Iran enriching uranium... or terrorists making bombs...

    I could think of lots of reasons that publicizing a piece of information could do harm to our very secret efforts to keep an eye on those that dislike us or actively plan things to hurt us or attack us.

    As for number one, if one has a surveillance effort, and you have been watching certain citizens that are alleged to be involved in treasonous activities, you wouldn't want ALL of that surveillance information to be publicized - much of it would be irrelevant to your investigation (probably hours and hours of it), and there would be nuggets of very private information that could harm that person if exposed, such as banking information, or perhaps information that he/she was involved in an affair - that could even harm a third party.

    Use your imagination - Ann Landers would tell you that whatever you can imagine couldn't possibly be as interesting or likely as what people really are doing!!

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 4:59am

    Re: Something I've noticed

    "1. When public disclosure endangers lives of operatives.
    2. When public disclosure truly weakens national security.
    3. When public disclosure impedes on the rights of citizens."

    Personally, 90% of the time these are not even good enough reasons to hide policy from the American people (in my opinion).

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 5:22am

    Re: Re: Something I've noticed

    How about the right to a private life?

    Or their right to a life at all?

    Or their pursuit of happiness?

    Of course you only have those rights so long as they don't infringe on someone else's rights. Which makes the whole self defense killing thing more than just a moral argument.

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

  8. identicon
    Gears of Peace, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 6:38am

    Still All Sounds Like Your Typical Real Networks PR

    hard at work, trying to generate interest in their products that nobody wants :p

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

  9. identicon
    mobiGeek, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 6:55am


    Then he should pull himself from the case as that would be a CLEAR case of conflict of interest.

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

  10. identicon
    anon, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 7:03am

    Re: When public disclosure truly weakens national security.

    The problem is some people have the view that themselves not having full power over whatever they want IS endangering national security. Complete black and white view, and fully believing in their hearts that they are doing the Right Thing. "It would be so much easier if this were a dictatorship"

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

  11. identicon
    fat Tony, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 10:34am

    Bringing it all in

    @#3 The Privacy Act of 1972 is the major law that is used to justify personal info being withheld...think of what can be done with your personal info, all of it

    @#6 These are 90% of the legitimate reasons that can be used. If the office has the ability to classify data...they can just throw a sticker on it and BAM! Request can be out and out denied...or filled whilst utilizing the magic of black sharpie! Policy can rarely be blocked this way...just day to day procedure. Actual Policies are not easy to block in a FOIA.

    @#10 This is occasionally problematic. The is why, for the most part, Freedom of Information Act requests are processed by multiple people. If the FOIA rep does have traces of megalomania running through him/her...Then try again one office above him.

    There are good reasons that these laws are in place. These are some of the few laws that can be EASILY justified as actually for the public good.
    I wish more Americans would use FOIA requests to LEARN THINGS. Like how their gov't operates and possibly to through a tad bit of oversight into the process.
    I don't know...maybe I just spent too much time seeing shady shit done in the name of the greater good...

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

  12. identicon
    another mike, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 12:20pm

    not like there isn't DVD ripping software already

    Real should just "leak" their software onto the torrents. Everyone can be suitably aggrieved, the noise can fade, and the market can get on with business.

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

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