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Internet thugs Realnetworks lose case against Hilbrand Edskes

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In what looks like a typical case of trying to silence somebody, American company Realnetworks with the aid of the Dutch public prosecutor, the Dutch police and the Dutch courts has managed to bully webmaster Hilbrand Edskes into running up over 66,000 euro in legal costs, losing all his spare time, and putting off his hopes of one day buying a house.

What Realnetworks did not manage to do is win its lawsuit against Hilbrand Edskes. The latter won last Wednesday. Edskes had a link to software (Real Alternative) competing with Realnetworks’ product (Real Player) on his website, which the company alleged was illegal. The court thoroughly dismissed all of Realnetworks’ claims.

Realnetworks won an ex-parte case against Edskes in August. An ex-parte case is one where the defendant is not allowed to defend himself, so it wasn’t strange that Realnetworks managed to ‘win’ that one. Remember how Louis Vuitton tried to keep the world in the dark about its involvement in the Darfur genocide? They used the same legal crowbar.

Realnetworks, you may or may not remember, used to produce a piece of software called Real Player with which you could play videos and music. Almost nobody uses it because it is not nearly as good as VLC or Quicktime. One wonders if perhaps suing small fry is Realnetworks’ latest business model.

That a supposedly democratic country like the Netherlands lets anyone with deep pockets abuse the court system to bully others is a disgrace, and judges who see no problem with ex parte cases ought to be deeply ashamed of themselves.

The court only awarded Edskes 48,000 euro in damages, because both parties had agreed to this amount beforehand, according to the verdict (Dutch).

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