RealNetworks Picks Fight With Hollywood; Plans To Release DVD Ripping Software
from the legal-battles-on-the-horizon dept
You may remember about six years ago, a company named 321 Studios released a product called DVD X Copy, that was designed to allow you to rip a DVD to a digital file on your computer. Despite the fact that the law is clear that making a backup copy like this is perfectly legal, the problem (from the movie studios’ perspective) was that this software got around the encryption they put on DVDs, and thanks to the “anti-circumvention” clause of the DMCA, the act of getting around that DRM (even if for a perfectly legal reason) was illegal. Unfortunately, 321 Studios lost that suit and eventually went out of business, when it became to expensive to continue to fight the studios. It was a very bad ruling, highlighting the more ridiculous aspects of the DMCA, but without anyone else willing to take the case further, not much has happened in the space since. There are plenty of DVD ripping tools out there, but none from a major company… until now.
Apparently, Rob Glaser over at RealNetworks is so desperate for some attention that Real is releasing its own DVD ripping program, though it’s loaded down with its own limitations. You’ll only be able to watch the movie on the machine you ripped it to — or can transfer it to another machine, but with a limit of 5 machines, and each of those machines has to have a purchased copy of the same software. In other words, while it rips the movie, it puts its own restrictive DRM on it as well, which hardly seems appealing — especially at $30, when there are DVD ripping products for free that don’t have such restrictions.
Yet, the nameless Hollywood insiders still think that Real will get sued over the product, which is probably what Glaser is hoping for (in order to get the free press). So, even if the product is likely to be a dud, the resulting lawsuit could be pretty important in determining the limitations of the DMCA’s anti-circumvention clause — or, at least, reminding the American public that the DMCA’s anti-circumvention clause leads to ridiculous situations, such as making it illegal to provide a product that does perfectly legal things.