Is Real's DVD Ripper A DRM Too Far?

Submitted by Andy Marken on Tue, 10/14/2008 - 16:00

RealNetworks' RealDVD allows you to rip your DVDs to HD, but also adds more DRM argues one commentatorRob Glaser, RealNetworks CEO, hasn't had a lot of winners lately so we bet the idea of helping you copy your Hollywood DVD sounded like a great way to strike it rich...again.

And to ensure you hear about his offer he chose to sue Hollywood before they sue him for his RealDVD copying, backup, archiving, ripping, whatever software.

Nice quiet way to deliver the message!

Sounds great. The $30 software lets you rip a DVD movie to your computer hard drive.

Background to the Offer

The difference between RealDVD and the 30-40 such products you can find on the Web is that:

Real went and bought a DVD-CCA (DVD-Copy Control Assn) license

Real proudly says they don't hack the CSS (Content Scrambling System)

Real in fact adds another layer (uniquely theirs) of DRM (digital rights management) security

Real didn't just introduce RealDVD, Rob paid to toot his horn about it at DEMOFall

Rob knows that the only thing to prove real credibility is a good lawsuit. He sued 'em!

RealNetworks used to be the go-to place back in the Web 1.0 days for content.


Rhapsody is way down the music subscription service food chain well behind Jobs' iTunes money machine and struggling Napster.

Online movie distribution?

Who knew?

Way behind Apple, Netflix, Amazon and darn near everyone!

Glaser has helped a lot of lawyers put their kids through college and buy new exotic cars.

He took on his Seattle neighbor Microsoft and received a nice $760 million settlement.

He ticked off Jobs for his engineering work-around iTunes DRM (digital rights management) security solution.

Oh heck at least a half dozen others over the past 10 years.

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Real isn't the first with a "DVD" backup solution. Nor the first to brazenly tell the world it was available.

321 Software had X Copy a few years ago but the MPAA sued them out of business.

SlySoft loves to quietly promote their AnyDVD that handles both DVD and BD discs but they're down in Aruba.

The islanders sorta blow off outside lawyers or lawsuits.

Kaliedescape was one of the first home servers that enabled you to store DVD content.

It was a great battle but the MPAA lost that one ...they're appealing. They don't like the courts in Silicon Valley so they're going to a better playground.

The idea of a home entertainment network - centrally store, play anywhere - is what home owners want.

Up until this year people had to either bring in a home networking specialist to do it (overlooking how the movies got on the hard drive) or be really good (and patient) techs to do it themselves.

But now there server solutions from firms such as Control14, Crestron, Fuse, Axonix, AMX, Escient, ReQuest that are "more or less" legal. A few pay the DVD-CCA license fees.

Most say they're legal because they only backup (archive) your content once you have it off the disc (wink,wink,wink).

Glaser's Approach

RealNetworks went to the DVD-CCA and signed their CSS player agreement.

Proving how security minded he is, Glaser says their RealDVD makes a bit by bit copy of the complete DVD (including the CSS encryption).

Sorta feels like the Star Trek transporter...disassembling your particles here and reassembling them there.

Glaser emphasizes they even add another layer of encryption so that once the content - including artwork, extras, the whole works - is on your internal or external storage device it's there to stay!

Want copies on multiple PCs?

Buy more RealDVD licenses at $20 apiece (up to 5 systems).

They are so true to their DVD-CCA agreement they emphasize that RealDVD may only be used to copy DVDs you own (wink, wink, wink).

Glaser has said that RealDVD allows consumers to securely store, manage, play their DVDs on their computers. He says the software provides consumers with a great solution for the playback (as long as the player key is on the system) and management of their DVD collections and gives them another layer of security that is better than CSS.

Who voted for two locks?

People we know who have tested RealDVD say it is like most ripping packages out there...very user unfriendly!

We wouldn't know.

We've never ripped a DVD.

We've got a son.

Hollywood's Script

Of course the MPAA (Motion Picture Assn of America) has a different view of RealNetworks safe-n-sure software.

They emphasize that RealNetworks has a player license. You know like the ones Corel and Cyberlink sell to manufacturers.

That's all!

They note that the license stipulates that the disc has to be present in the player.

Third Hollywood's lawyers say that RealDVD "circumvents" the encryption technology something that is prohibited by DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act).

Another really cool thing Congress felt was in our interest.

Not too sure but if you have a work around the DVD-CCA security to make a "more secure" copy and never touch their code you're a really cool magician !!!!

Finally Hollywood's lawyers are positive that RealDVD can (will) be used by folks who subscribe to NetFlix, Blockbuster or your local rent-rip-return video store.

This would obviously wipe out last year's industry DVD sales of $16 billion and $7.5 billion in rentals .


Picture Perfect Landing

Glaser says he sued the Hollywood crowd because they threatened him.

Frankly, we would have called them names and run home. Heck of a lot cheaper!

Of course flying in silently instead of broadcasting his landing might not have been exactly what they had in mind...

RealNetworks says they're taking this legal action to "protect consumers' ability to exercise their fair-use rights for their purchased DVDs."

Kinda makes you all warm and fuzzy doesn't it?

Better position might have been the need for consumer "fair use."

You know, buy a product and use it when you want...where you you want.

That's what people expect.

That's what consumers deserve!

That's something the CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) and EFF (Electronic Freedom Foundation) would get behind.

With two layers of DRM that obviously isn't what RealNetworks had in mind. They wanted their own version of a walled know like Steve's.

As it is RealNetworks showed red ink last quarter and hasn't had a winner for a long, long time.

Hollywood has deeper pockets, more lawyers, more friends in D.C.

Smooth Landing

Some of RealNetworks claims to fame for DVD copying are shaky at best. Adding another layer of security on top of CSS isn't what Hollywood had in mind. Having any layers at all isn't exactly what the consumers had in mind. Sure hope Glaser can guide RealDVD into a smooth landing.

Signing an agreement and then knowingly stepping outside the lines doesn't seem right.

Another layer of DRM is moving in the wrong direction!