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.

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Companies: 321 studios, realnetworks

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Comments on “RealNetworks Picks Fight With Hollywood; Plans To Release DVD Ripping Software”

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Gears of Peace says:

“the resulting lawsuit could be pretty important in determining the limitations of the DMCA’s anti-circumvention clause “

I think it could be extremely important, not so much to Real (since no one really installs their stuff anymore anyways) but to companies like Microsoft and Apple-who could incorporate the feature into the Zune software and into iTunes. Rip, Burn and Play for movies as well as music for Zune and iPod? If Real wins the lawsuit, it could happen.

And yeah I know, I know, MS and Apple would rather you stream/download digital movies from their stores. But they’d rather you bought songs too, but still provide CD ripping, because selling the hardware is still the main moneymaker.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Screw Hollywood

“Just don’t buy any DVD’s and you won’t have to worry about backing anything up and Hollywood can’t bitch that people are “stealing” their stuff…”

I don’t buy their stuff. I get, on average, 24 DVD’s a month from NETFLIX. I put them in my Ubuntu computer, use K9COPY and rip to an ISO without all the extras and only one language. I get them in the morning and they are in the mail that afternoon. I later use K3B to burn the ISO image to a DVD. I also use DVD:RIP on the ISO to extract the main title to an XVID avi on average 1.4GB in size. I have already used DVD:RIP on my personnel collection of DVD’s that number more than 500.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Screw Hollywood

LOL I don’t mean rip them off, I just meant don’t patronize them. Personally I could care less to see a movie more than once so having a thousand hours of crap sucking up 700 GB of space on my hard drive seems pointless. I think movie prices are too high and the best way to go about changing that (legally) is to reduce demand which in turn will affect price.

nasch says:

Re: Re: Screw Hollywood

You think that qualifies as fair use, or you just don’t care? And do you actually watch all that? That’s almost a movie every day, assuming you never watch any of the movies you already own, or watch any Netflix movie more than once. And in 10 years at this rate you’ll have almost 3500 DVDs. Doesn’t seem worth the trouble to me.

hegemon13 says:

Re: Re: Re: Screw Hollywood

No kidding. This mentality of creating an enormous “collection” that you never have time to watch is silly.

I will admit that I once operated under the same idea, downloading tons of out-of-print and hard-to-find movies because they were there. I thought, if I ever wanted to see them, this was my only chance. That may be true, but I discovered after a couple years that I had a huge collection that was about 95% unwatched, and I was spending all the time I could have spent enjoying a much smaller collection on building an already bloated collection. Even with that realization, the daily checking of trackers was a hard habit to break. Now, I have stopped browsing for stuff to download. Instead, I occasionally set out to find something specific when there is no other feasible way to get it, and I know that I intend to watch it soon. If I can get it from a rental store, I will. If I am certain a movie will be good (or if I have already seen it, liked it, and want to see it again) I will buy it. If those methods fail, I will spend a few minutes tracking it down and downloading it. It is just so much simpler and less time-consuming, and it still provides all the entertainment I need.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Worst Of Both Worlds

On the one hand, they’re putting out a mediocre product that seems unlikely to get much sales, and on the other hand, they’re picking a fight with Big Content that they know they can’t win.

Sounds like an expensive waste of time.

If they’re going to put out a DMCA-infringing product, why not put out a decent one, with no DRM, make it nice to use etc? Yes, they will go down in flames, but if they can work up some public sympathy for their cause, as a result of customers angry at having a good product taken away from them through no fault of the vendor, that might at least achieve something.

dvd copy software (user link) says:

DVD Copy Software

There seems to be no middle ground between a fair business model and the consumer’s fair use rights. The copyright holders need to be protected, but it’s not fair that consumers have to pay multiple times for the same content. You should be able to pay for one movie one time and be able to watch it’s on all different formats and devices. We should NOT have to pay multiple times for DVD, HD DVD Blu-Ray, iPod, PSP, mobile phones, etc. etc. Until a fair business model is developed, there will always be DVD copy software programs out there like 1 Click DVD Copy and DVDneXtCopy that enable users to rip, convert, burn and copy DVD movies. BTW, all the best DVD best burning programs are listed, ranked, reviewed and compared side-by-side at:

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