MPAA WINS ANOTHER COPYRIGHT BATTLE
A federal judge has ruled that RealNetworks' RealDVD player violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and slapped a preliminary injunction on the company that bars it from selling the software in the U.S. RealNetworks had contended that its software merely allowed users to make backup copies of their DVDs, but the Motion Picture Association of America, which represents the major U.S. film studios, had argued that it also allowed users to make copies of DVDs they had rented. In a statement following the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, the MPAA reiterated its accusation that RealNetworks "was willing to break the law at the expense of those who create entertainment content." RealNetworks did not immediately indicate whether it plans to appeal, saying only that it is reviewing the decision to determine a future course of action.
MICROSOFT TO MARKET HD VERSION OF ZUNE
Competition between makers of settop units that allow consumers to watch online content on their television sets picked up with reports on Tuesday that Microsoft plans to offer a high-definition (720p) version of its Zune multimedia portable device on September 15. Consumers can view videos on the device itself -- Microsoft's answer to Apple's iPod -- or they can connect it to their TV sets using a docking unit (sold separately). Pricing was not disclosed. Meanwhile, Roku, which makes the $99 settop box used to stream videos from Amazon and Netflix to TV sets, announced that it has signed a deal with Major League Baseball that will allow subscribers to MLB's website to watch live games all over the country -- many of them in high definition.
GOLDEN GLOBE REVENUE GOING TO ARTS GROUPS
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which receives an embarrassment of riches for its presentation of the often critically derided Golden Globes awards each year, spread some of those riches around to nonprofit film groups on Tuesday. The group handed out more than $1.2 million in grants, including $350,000 to the Film Foundation, which restores classic films. It was accepted on behalf of the Foundation by Warren Beatty. Other awards went to the Los Angeles Conservancy for its theater renovation program; the National Association of Latino Independent Producers; Inner-City Arts; the Lollipop Theatre Network, which brings movies to hospitalized children; Film Independent, which stages the annual Spirit Awards; FilmAid International, which provides movies to refugees; Robert Redford's Sundance Institute; Outfest, the gay and lesbian film festival; and nine film schools.
MIYAZAKI'S PONYO TO GET FULL COURT PRESS
The Walt Disney Company, which holds the distribution rights to the films of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki but has never put much marketing effort behind them, is set to give Miyazaki's latest film, Ponyo, a first-rate push. While previous Miyazaki films have opened in limited release in only a handful of theaters, Ponyo will debut in more than 800 theaters. Reuters on Tuesday indicated that John Lasseter, Disney's chief creative officer, has been behind the latest effort on behalf of the Japanese animator, whose films are generally enormous hits overseas.Lasseter has hired Tina Fey, Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett to provide some of the voices, while Frankie Jonas, the younger brother of the three Jonas Brothers, and Noah Cyrus, the sister of Miley Cyrus, provide the voices of the leading characters. The film employs hand-drawn animation, not the CGI kind that is associated with Pixar films. No matter, Lasseter told Reuters. "I've never, ever agreed that audiences are tired of watching hand-drawn animation, that they only want to watch computer animation. ... Because it's not the medium that makes a movie entertaining, it's what you do with it."
HOLLYWOOD TO BECOME LEGOLAND
Lego is the latest toy company to be embraced by Hollywood. The Hollywood Reporter indicated today (Wednesday) that Warner Bros. does not intend to film the movie using characters and scenery created with Lego blocks. The movie, it said, will be "live-action/CG-animated." Moreover, the trade publication said, "the picture will have elements for children, but the studio is hoping it also will play to adults."