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September 9, 2008

RealDVD Claims Legitimate DVD Copying

The news is buzzing with reports that Real is set to release (today) a DVD ripper, RealDVD, the company claims is legal.  The legality of Real's software is based on the Kaleidescape case.  That action had a manufacturer of a video server pitted against the DVD copy Control Association (DCCA), the licensor of DVD DRM. 

Kaleidescape manufactured equipment that stored purchased DVDs on a home video server.  The box had a price tag of $10,000, which made it a luxury item for most.  Nonetheless, the DVD copy Control Association (DCCA) took exception and sued on violation of their license for DVD encryption.  Kaleidescape is a member of the DCCA.  A trial judge in Santa Barbara, California, said Kaleidescape did not violate the license.  That decision remains on appeal.

No manufacturer has taken the liberty of creating legal DVD ripping software since the Kaliedescape decision until now.  Actually, that's not quite true.  Software exists that easily pirates encrypted video content, though none of this is legal under copyright regimes.  Studios have been loathe to give up control of their content.  The distribution for online copies of movies is littered with severe copy restrictions and price points that make mainstream online distribution non-competitive with physical distribution.  That may be changing as the studios get more comfortable with the concept.  That comfort level may get a jolt from Real.

Real's software copies a DVD to one computer.  A customer can buy additional copies of the software and share that copy with five other devices.  They can include other portable computers, external drives, or even jump drives.  Now that 16 Gb jump drives are starting to hit the market, that means a portable memory device can hold two full DVDs.  RealDVD copies the DVD with full encryption intact and adds its own layer of DRM on top of that to prevent piracy.  However, it can't tell the difference between purchased and rental copies, so there is somewhat of a loophole in the process.  The software will not work with Blu-Ray discs and, oddly, discs that have no copy protection at all.  For all those hockey moms out there with DVD home videos of the kids, this product is not for you.

This development may have one or two effects on the movie distribution industry.  The studios may see if and how people actually use this software and alter their distribution strategy.  If Real can monetize portability with someone else's content, why can't the studios cut Real out of the equation and sell that functionality themselves?  Real can establish a market for them.  For that to happen, though, the studios have to get over their paranoia of controlling every aspect of the home video experience.  That may hard given what they see on the music side of the business. 

A lot of this depends on how consumers react irrespective of the licensing issues.  It's hard to compete with free as in free, albeit illegal, tools that completely eliminate encryption and regional restrictions on DVDs.  Legitimate software does keep the process server away from the door, and that's what Real is counting on to develop the market, assuming it can keep the process server away from its doors as well.  [MG]

September 9, 2008 | Permalink

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Comments

You know, I find it hard for people to justify DRM they way they do. It is people like this "OMG Its illegal to back up your movies" that tick me off. We used to have the RIGHT to protect what we OWN. I bought it, damnit it is mine. If I want to make a backup so I can ensure the dog doesn't try to eat my only copy then that's my business.

I don't care how much DRM companies put on a product **someone** will find a way around it.If they quit wasting the money you and I spend on a movie trying to keep people from copying it... they might have the money needed to drop the price of the movies some and sell more - or better yet... use that money to make a movie worth owning.

MPAA get over yourself. Those who follow the MPAA blindly - do the same!

Posted by: waldo | Oct 1, 2008 11:17:08 PM

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