RealNetworks Looking For A Lawsuit; Launches Software To Download And Burn Streaming Video

from the this-ought-to-be-fun dept

RealNetworks has become something of an also ran online. The company that really pioneered both web audio and video went astray over the last few years as it became more focused on tricking its users into installing all sorts of adware they didn't need or want. All that did was piss people off and send them looking for alternatives. And, of course, given the demand, many alternatives hit the market, and most were a lot more innovative, because Real stopped innovating. So, now, in an attempt to return RealNetworks to the spotlight, Rob Glaser is begging for a lawsuit. The latest version of RealPlayer will make it easy to download streaming video and audio and burn it to a CD or DVD. Obviously, there are already a ton of other products out there that do this -- but none is really mainstream beyond the geekier crowd. RealPlayer, on the other hand, can certainly be considered mainstream. It's definitely a good attempt at delivering exactly what the customer wants -- which is just the type of thing that will cause the entertainment industry to freak out and send in the lawyers. My guess is that RealNetworks is hoping for exactly that, as the resulting publicity can only help the software get even further adoption -- and there's a better than decent chance that Real would prevail in any such lawsuit (they just need to point the court to the Betamax decision and ask anyone to explain what's different).
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2007 @ 4:29am

    First!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2007 @ 4:31am

    I wouldn't put anything from RealNetworks on my computer if you paid me. The only reason they are even still in business if because they snowed companies like AOL and Comcast into supporting their crapware. I wouldn't trust them no matter how many reputable sources said they've changed. I believe it about as much as I believe 180 Solutions/Zango is trying to go legit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Sen. Ted Kennedy, 1 Jun 2007 @ 8:39am

      Re:

      I wouldn't put anything from RealNetworks on my computer if you paid me. The only reason they are even still in business if because they snowed companies like AOL and Comcast into supporting their crapware. I wouldn't trust them no matter how many reputable sources said they've changed. I believe it about as much as I believe 180 Solutions/Zango is trying to go legit.

      Amen to that brother. When I run across any multimedia that's encoded in Real format, I'll often write the webmaster and let them know how stupid an idea that is.

      Makes me feel good.

      Vicky, get me another Chivas will ya hon?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ReallyEvilCanine, 1 Jun 2007 @ 4:45am

    The Betamax Response

    they just need to point the court to the Betamax decision and ask anyone to explain what's different

    One would think, and one would probably be wrong because the content providers (including the streamers themselves who are dependent on the return and repeat business in order to deliver enough ads) will simply scream, "This is different. It's on the Web®. It's digital and so all copies will be perfect." The fact that the video is of such low quality is meaningless since we know that will improve in the near future.

    And the creators have a point. People are happy to watch a poor-quality streaming music video which is helping promote the artist, but when those streams can be saved, the revenue stream is not only cut for the provider, sales of actual products (DVDs of various bands' music videos) can be reduced. The stream is no longer promotion but can be substituted by those who are less discerning when it comes to quality for the product it's trying to sell.

    If the video is promotional than it can't itself become a substitute for the products it's promoting or there's no incentive to produce.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2007 @ 4:49am

    I agree, I would never install any software from RealNetworks and usually stay away from sites whose content utilizes it. I'm not quite sure how they are being innovative when this is not a new concept or implementation, other then that RealNetworks is trying it. At least they are trying and I'm all for the RIAA/MPAA burning the money in the coffers like coal in a steam engine on these companies; it distracts them from the little guy for a bit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Curious Guy, 1 Jun 2007 @ 6:15am

    Wonderful News

    Even though I'd agree that Real's products have slowly slipped towards the term "Badware", I am excited about the prospect of a large corporation, with suficient legal funding, diving headlong into the copyright infrigement battle arena. The technical innovation that has been thrown into copyright protection has been wasted as it can, and has been, cracked/hacked/destroyed repeatedly. The idea of giving someone all the tools they need to use a product at home and then expect that they cannot use those same tools to copy that product is silly.

    Let's face facts, it's not the copying that's illegal, at least by the current statues on file (fair use anyone?), but the sharing of that media. That and the revelation that pressed media (the type bought from store shelves) has a life of about 15 years or less due to oxidation where "burned" media has a lifespan much longer would push a person further into the conclusion that copyright protection on discs is silly. Imagine if parents could copy that game/video that their children watch over and over, that'd be fair use. We are currently not allowed to follow our fair use becuase of the millenium copyright act (spelling?). I'm glad to see someone big, as stated above, fighting in course over the protection of nothing more than data. 0's and 1's people, that's all it is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pro-Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2007 @ 6:36am

    I, for one, fully support the first comment and it's author.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      bizzarefall, 4 Jun 2007 @ 9:05am

      Re:

      eh why not right?
      At least it gives the grumps something to be grumpy about, but hey, I ask again is it all the same guy?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2007 @ 6:48am

    you all suck, I'm the FIRST and I WIN, so whine elsewhere you LOSERS!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Overcast, 1 Jun 2007 @ 6:51am

    ...as it became more focused on tricking its users into installing all sorts of adware they didn't need or want..

    Isn't that the truth. There's NO WAY, I will install real player on my PC anymore. I pay far too much attention to what's going on, on my PC. I'm a performance mad-man, so if another process is running, I'll most likely know it.

    They should have stuck to their original plan of just making a good product. At first, when it was a pretty simple app, I didn't hesitate to install it. Now, I know that it's going to add a buncha' junk to the registry, and install a bunch of junk I don't need. Apple was smart enough with Quicktime to give the option of installing iTunes - which I don't use anyway. Anymore, I think Quicktime has the most potential - we'll see.

    So far, I have only been bummed out once when there was a little documentary only available in real media, mostly - there's another version on sites as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    InkChemist, 1 Jun 2007 @ 7:02am

    unanimous

    I think intelligent people are in unanimous agreement.

    A) Anonymous Coward needs to find more to do with his life than be 'first'.

    B) Real Networks screwed its customers and deserves no support from them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Ajax 4Hire, 1 Jun 2007 @ 7:18am

      Re: unanimous; first and Anonymous Coward

      I agree, there is no way I will allow RealMedia/Player to show up on any machine I support. I put "Real" in the same category as KaZaA and Napster. They start out ok but then degenerate to a simple virus/malware/trojan infection vector.

      I became so tired of removing crapware loaded by these (Real, KaZaA, Napster, et al) that I finally gave up.

      I declared Real Player a Trojan and kicked it off the farm.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        dazcon5, 1 Jun 2007 @ 7:33am

        Re: Re: unanimous; first and Anonymous Coward

        Dear Anonymous Coward please do society a favor and remove yourself from the gene pool.

        I'll wait and see for RealPlayer. If they clean up their act and produce malware free software that is actually usefull, I'll give it a shot. If it's biz as usual I'll keep it on the malware list and 50 lashes with a wet noodle to my users that install it.

        ATTENTION: grammar and spelling trolls BITE ME!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Steve French, 1 Jun 2007 @ 8:37am

    How long will it take

    For lawyers to tell us that since we can remember something we've seen, heard, or touched that we are in violation of some copyright law and we must immediately forget it until the authors presents it to us again.

    While Real is not a product I would use much, they shouldn't be held accountable for making a product useful and someone using it for illegal practices. Now if the product only recorded and saved copyrighted material, that would be a different story.

    Have a nice day!
    Steve

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bravo Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2007 @ 9:27am

    re:Anonymous Coward

    I agree with Anonymous Coward whole-heartedly. How many times has Realnetworks "Cleaned up their act". They lie. They cannot be trusted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, 1 Jun 2007 @ 9:30am

    StreamRipper

    This sounds like the Stream Ripper plug-in for Winamp, but in a video version. Now if I had that, I would probalby use it, but a real Player I will avoid until someone has shown that it is clean.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Brian, 1 Jun 2007 @ 10:17am

    Sad

    Sad to see Real fade into irrelevance. Much like Palm, only the older geeks appreciate the innovation they brought us once, long long ago.

    In case anyone doesn't know WMRecorder has been saving streams for years. 10.2 works better for me than 11.x for some reason... Mix in Fairplay and you have a copyright-violation machine.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2007 @ 10:26am

    I have heard that Real has been cleaning up their act; I don't know, because I'm still too paranoid to install anything from them.

    But I think this is a smart move on their part. Assuming they have moved away from their suicidal malware model, this is a possible method to reclaim some market share. I have Firefox plug-ins that save streaming video, but they're kind of hacky and unreliable. If somebody can vouch that Real has turned over a new leaf, I might consider trying it.

    Can't be any worse than the monstrosity Quicktime has turned into.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Cixelsid, 1 Jun 2007 @ 1:23pm

    Huh?

    "RealNetworks has become something of an also ran online."

    o_O

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jun 2007 @ 10:08am

    2: "I wouldn't put anything from RealNetworks on my computer if you paid me."
    exactally


    8(Curious Guy): "Even though I'd agree that Real's products have slowly slipped towards the term "Badware""
    Real's products have been crapware for many years.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    GoblinJuice, 4 Jun 2007 @ 10:36am

    Real Media files are a hassle to deal with, but... a lot of the sites I frequent use ONLY their format.(Surprisingly, not pr0n!)

    As for saving / transcoding / burning, I've been doing that for ages. ;-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bill Hartzer, 11 Jun 2007 @ 2:17pm

    Not necessarily

    I don't think this necessarily bring a lot of lawsuits and legal troubles. With so many people generating content (heck, I can even create a small video with my cell phone), saving and burning it will definitely help me out.

    Just because you have the tools to commit a copyright offense doesn't mean that you're going to do it. It's intended for a good purpose, so just downloading the streaming video won't necessarily mean that you're going to start saving it and redistributing it out to the whole world. I don't have a problem downloading a streaming video feed if I'm going to use it for my own purposes later: to view it at a later time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.