Apple, Microsoft, Adobe and Real Networks Threatened with DRM-Related Lawsuits

Dennis Faas's picture

Media Rights Technology (MRT) has sent cease-and-desist letters to Apple, Microsoft, Adobe and Real, claiming that they have been infringing products under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

"Together these four companies are responsible for 98 percent of the media players in the marketplace; CNN, NPR, Clear Channel, MySpace, Yahoo, and YouTube all use these infringing devices to distribute copyrighted works," said MRT CEO Hank Risan. "We will hold the responsible parties accountable. The time of suing John Doe is over." (Source:

But MRT is not a content owner, so why is it suing under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act?

The legal jargon makes the explanation a bit confusing, but it goes something like this: Apple, Microsoft, Adobe and Real make media player software that can tune into digital music streams, like Internet radio stations -- many of which do not have DRM attached. As such, MRT believes that these companies should be responsible for using DRM to protect the streams. In particular, MRT asserts that the companies should use a specific form of DRM: the "X1 SeCure Recording Control."

Does anyone want to venture a guess as to who makes X1? That's right: MRT. (Source:

Although MRT alleges that the companies' avoidance of a copyright protection plan constitutes a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, there are definitely some holes in the argument. For example, eMusic, iTunes, NPR, and many others legally distribute content without copyright protection solutions. If these companies were breaking the law, why would Apple, Microsoft, Adobe and Real be the ones threatened? (Source:

In the letters, MRT warned that the suits could lead to damages of "at least $200 to $2500 for each product distributed or sold." But is their argument valid? Or is it just a shameless but empty attempt by MRT to get its DRM used by the top companies? At this point, no one knows for sure, but I just can't help raising an eyebrow. (Source:

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