Tag Archives | RealDVD

RealDVD is in Real Trouble. No, Really.

Why is the woman in the above image from RealNetworks RealDVD site smiling? You’d think she’d look just a tad glum given that the software, launched just last week, has been pulled off the market. According to NewTeeVee, a court has told Real to stop distributing the company’s DVD copying software until Tuesday while it reviews the case. That’s the latest development in the legal tussle that has Real suing Hollywood, Hollywood suing Real, and most consumers, I suspect, rooting for Real–except for those who think that the company is a bad guy itself for selling software that not only preserves DVD’s encryption on the copies it makes but adds additional DRM.

I sure hope that Real prevails, and quickly; RealDVD is a small but real positive development for consumers who want to get more out of media they’ve paid for, and it doesn’t let anyone put copies on BitTorrent or otherwise engage in mass piracy. If even its limited functionality is forbidden or stuck in legal limbo, it’s going to be really depressing.

I’m not a lawyer, though, so I’m not going to make any predictions about RealDVD’s fate. You’d think that Real wouldn’t have gone to the expense and bother of developing it if it wasn’t reasonably confident that it could sell the darn application, but perhaps it gambled and gambled badly. (I do regret declaring that the software was “clearly legal” in my review: I was…clearly wrong. Or at least not clearly right.)

Oh, and Technologizer gave away ten license codes for RealDVD yesterday to members of our community, so I’m rooting for the current RealDVD takedown to indeed end on Tuesday so those winners can make use of their codes.


RealDVD Giveaway Winners

We have winners! Our giveaway of ten copies of Real’s RealDVD software is now complete. The software was released earlier this week and has already inspired legal warfare between Real and Hollywood–I know who I’m rooting for–so it’ll probably stay in the news for awhile, and its fate remains unknown. But the following lucky Technologizer Community members get the application for free, and license codes are in their inboxes as we speak:

Jamil Caram Jr
Brian Winking
Sammy Brence
The Human Yawn

Congrats to the winners–and thanks to everyone who took the time to enter.


Labels Plan to Sue Real over RealDVD, But Real Strikes First

The Associated Press and CNET are both seperately reporting that the major movie studios are set to file suit against Real over its DVD copying software, apparently ready to ask for a temporary restraining order to prevent distribution of RealDVD.

But as Harry pointed out bright and early this morning, Real has landed the first punch. The company is filing an action for declaratory judgement (see here for a definition) that asks the court to find that Real’s software is in compliance with the DVD Copy Control Association’s license agreement.

Real points out that it maintains some type of digital rights management when ripping the discs. Ripped files can only be played on computers owned by the copier. This would effectively prevent the file from being usable for those wishing to share it over P2P networks.

In its statement, Real points out the Kaleidescape case, where the DVD Copy Control Association sued the company for its ripping software, which allows entertainment enthusiasts to store their media content on a central home media server. Kaleidescape prevailed in that case.

Real argues that the legal action is intended to protect consumers.

“RealNetworks took this legal action to protect consumers’ ability to exercise their fair-use rights for their purchased DVDs … we are disappointed that the movie industry is following in the footsteps of the music industry and trying to shut down advances in technology rather than embracing changes that provide consumers with more value and flexibility for their purchases.”

For those of us who don’t care much for the strong-arm tactics of the entertainment industry when it comes to copyright, this can be seen as nothing but good news. I give the early edge to Real on this, who is obviously taking every reasonable step to prevent illicit use of its software. What more does the MPAA expect?

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RealDVD Now Available; Ten Free Copies for Technologizer Community Members

[UPDATE: RealDVD is already the subject of legal wrangling–Real announced today that it’s suing the Hollywood studios to protect the product against charges that it’s illegal. Press release here.]

RealNetworks is announcing that its RealDVD software is available for download and purchase today. It is, for the moment at least, unique: It’s the first software for DVD copying that goes about it in a way designed to sidestep problems with U.S. copyright law, and it’s also the easiest application I’ve seen for PC-based DVD copying and playback.

I review the application here, and do so reasonably favorably–it’s fast and simple, and you wind up with a library of saved DVDs that’s a snap to browse through. (Limitations: You can’t move copies to portable devices, and options for sharing them among PCs are limited to external drives.) Folks who are already hardcore users of DVD rippers such as Handbrake probably won’t be drawn to RealDVD, but I think it stands a good chance of becoming popular with the larger group of PC users who have never dealt with the complexities–both technical and legal–of using existing DVD copiers.

You can download a thirty-day trial version of RealDVD before you plunk down your $29.99. But how’d you like to get it for free, period? Real has supplied Technologizer with ten license codes, and we’ll give ’em away to members of the community. Here’s how to get a chance at snagging one:

1) Make sure you’re a registered member of the Technologizer Community. If you already are, great; if not, it just takes a moment to sign up, which you can do here.

2) Make sure you’re signed into the community, then visit my profile page.

3) Use the “Send a message” link on the left-hand side of the page (under my smiling face) to send me a message saying you’d like a chance at a license code. “Please enter me for a RealDVD code” is all I need to know.

That’s it. Ping me by 12pm noon PT on Thursday, October 2nd–later that day, we’ll choose ten winners at random, and alert them by e-mail with the codes by midnight on Friday. And we’ll report back in a post on who won the free copies, just so the world knows we did indeed give them away.

Good luck! And if you try RealDVD, let us know what you think of it.

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A Real Review of RealDVD

[NOTE: A court has ordered Real to stop distributing RealDVD for the time being–details here.]

In one sense, there’s nothing the least bit new about software that can copy DVDs to a PC’s hard drive. Folks have been using applications such as DVDShrink and Handbrake to do the job for years–and  the same people have moved movies to phones, media players, and other devices…as well as onto BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer networks, where they’re there for the taking by anyone who can figure out how to download them.

But because such applications decrypt DVDs, their legal status is the U.S., to put it politely, murky. Make that very, very murky, , considering that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act prohibits the circumvention of copy protection. That’s true even if you’re engaging only in the victimless crime of enjoying movies you’ve paid for on a device that doesn’t happen to have a slot for a DVD.

Enter Real Networks’ RealDVD, a Windows program that’s a breakthrough in one significant respect: It’s a DVD-copying program–a ripper, if you like–that doesn’t violate the DMCA. That’s because it doesn’t strip off the copy protection the DVDs came with. Matter of fact, it adds additional copy protection that prevents users from sharing the DVD copies they’ve made, or watching them on anything other than up to five Windows PCs per license; other types of computers and devices aren’t supported. Only a DVD copier that locks down its copies in this fashion could go on the market without risking Hollywood’s wrath.

But RealDVD, which Real says it’ll start selling by the end of this month, is more than a DVD copier that’s hobbled by the fact that it doesn’t flout U.S. law. It copies not just the raw video files from a DVD but the entire DVD experience–bonus materials and all–and recreates them on the PC. And as you copy movies, it identifies them (using GraceNote, the same service that powers the CD-identification powers of iTunes and other music apps), catalogs them using cover art images, and lets you browse them by title, genre, or star. It’s a little like a $30 software version of the $30,000 media server from Kaledescape, a company whose victory in a court case brought by the DVD Copy Control Association last year confirmed that DVD copying can be legal.

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More on RealDVD

I blogged about Real’s RealDVD ripping software last night, and now the company has done its demo here at DEMO. The basics are as I mentioned last night: It’s legal, runs on Windows, costs $30, retains copy protection and lets you watch DVDs on up to five PCs but not iPods or other devices.

The most important new news in the DEMO was a look at the interface, which looks nice: Like a program such as iTunes does for CDs, RealDVD identifies your movies when you insert a disc and downloads a box image and movie details. You can browse your movie collection via those box images.

Real says you can store movies on an external drive or thumb drive, and the software will notice that you’ve attached the drive and show the movies on it. I’m not sure if you can store movies on a networked drive, but I’m not sure why you couldn’t.

Oh, RealDVD copies preserve menus and bonus materials, and you can record a movie to your hard drive at the same time you’re watching it.

RealDVD looks like it does a nice job of what it sets out to do, which is let folks copy and watch DVDs in a way that’s simple and designed to avoid being sued into oblivion. That doesn’t mean that Hollywood won’t sue Real over RealDVD–I can’t imagine that content owners are thrilled by the idea, since they’d much rather sell you all the movies you already paid for as digital downloads.

I also suspect that folks who use existing DVD rippers will sneer at the idea of paying for an application that retains copy protection and therefore lets you do less with your ripped DVDs. But Real is presumably hoping to sell RealDVD to large numbers of consumers who don’t know about existing tools, find them intimidating, or–hey, here’s a novel thought–stay legal.

I think the software might do quite well with that audience, and I’ll give you more impressions once I’ve had a chance to try it…

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Real DVDs Ripped to Your PC. Legally. Really?

Have you ever ripped a commercial DVD to your PC? If so, you’ve probably used a product like Handbrake whose legality is at best sketchy, since it breaks copy protection and therefore violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Chances of the copyright police breaking down your door and hauling you away are slim. But starting later this month, you might be able to copy all the DVDs you want without fear of legal consequences.

The New York Times is reporting that Real Networks will announce RealDVD tomorrow at the DEMO conference in San Francisco. (Which is where I am–I’ll be in the audience when it does.) Real is presumably betting that it’s figured out a way to make a DVD copying program that won’t be sued into oblivion in a nanosecond. And even if they bet wrong, it’s going to be fascinating to watch it come to market.

RealDVD doesn’t sound like total DVD-copying nirvana: It won’t produce DRM-free copies of DVDs that you can copy at will, download to your iPod, or upload to BitTorrent, according to the Times. Rather, its copies will retain copy protection; you can play them on only up to five PCs, and only if you’ve paid for the $30 software on each of those machines. That’s a significant set of limitations, but it would still allow you to store a library of movies on your hard drive for playback. (I’m not sure offhand whether you’d be able to keep them on a networked hard drive for playback via multiple computers around the house, but I sure hope so–it would be nifty.)

The Times quotes a technology exec at a studio who sounds skeptical about RealDVD, which isn’t surprising; it’s hard to imagine anyone in Hollywood speaking positively about it, at least for the record. But the real question isn’t whether Hollywood is thrilled with the idea of RealDVD–it’s whether it’s legal. If it is, this is great news, and other companies will presumably jump into the market with similar products once Real has tested the legal waters.

I’m looking forward to learning more at DEMO tomorrow, and even more so to trying RealDVD once I can get my hands on it. Keep your fingers crossed: If it is indeed a real way to put DVDs on your PC easily and legally, it’ll be very good news for consumers with DVD collections that they don’t want to be forced to repuchase as digital downloads…