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RealNetworks thinks it has given content owners adequate protection from piracy using its application

The dominant application for copying DVDs circa 2004 was DVD X Copy. The company behind the software was sued into oblivion by several major motion picture studios and the Motion Picture Association of America. In the eyes of the DVD content owners, the software was nothing more than a method of allowing DVD renters to pirate copies of their films.

RealNetworks announced today that it would offer a new application called RealDVD to users for $30 that will allow the users to make copies of an entire DVD including extras and artwork digitally. RealNetworks says that the application will allow DVD owners to make a digital copy for archival and to be able to take with them on a computer when they travel.

Robert Glaser of RealNetworks told the New York Times, "[RealDVD is] a compelling and very responsible product that gives consumers a way to do something they have always wanted to do [copy DVDs]." Many will hear what RealNetworks has in mind and assume the software's days to be numbers before it ever hit store shelves.

The New York Times reports that RealNetworks feels the DVD industry footing on DVD copying is not as strong as it was back in 2004. The DVD Copy Control Association -- a group licensing DVD encryption to prevent piracy -- lost a lawsuit against a firm called Kaleidescape. Kaleidescape makes and sells a computer that can copy and store digital versions of up to 500 movies. The decision in the suit is under appeal.

Glaser told the New York Times, "If you look at the functionality of the product, we have put in significant barriers so people don’t just take this and put it on peer-to-peer networks. I think we’ve been really respectful of the legitimate interests of rights holders."

If the Kaleidescape ruling is over turned, RealNetworks is leaving itself in a very vulnerable position. It would likely have to remove the application from availability and could be sued itself for allowing users to make copies of DVDs.

RealNetworks says that its application has safe guards built-in to prevent it from being used as a method to pirate movies and post them online. The buyer of the RealDVD application would be able to make one copy of a DVD that could be played on only one computer. The digital copy could be transferred to up to five additional computers.

However, to transfer the film to a new computer would require each computer to have its own copy of the RealDVD application. The application is unable to copy HD films at this time.

Back in May 2007, DailyTech reported that the Advanced Access Content Licensing Administration was working to implement a feature called "managed copy" that would allow disc owners to make a digital copy of the film. The now defunct HD DVD also had plans to implement managed copy as part of its features.

The fear form Hollywood with software like RealDVD that allows for copies of movies to be made is that the film industry will end up like the recording industry. In the recording industry, the studios blame lagging sales of music on pirated copies of their works being freely offered on the internet.

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RE: Someone educate me...
By Solandri on 9/8/2008 2:41:05 PM , Rating: 3
It is perfectly legal for you to make a backup copy of your DVD/software/CD.

But it is illegal (in the U.S.) for someone to give you the tools necessary to bypass the DRM/encryption on the DVD/software to create a working backup (CDs don't have encryption).

The way they've managed to craft the laws, you have the right to make backups, but it's illegal for anyone to give/sell you the tools you need to make those backups. Some of the lawsuits and court decisions also seem to be saying it's illegal for someone to direct you to where you can get these tools, or to even tell you that such tools exist.

RE: Someone educate me...
By Ratinator on 9/8/2008 3:27:58 PM , Rating: 2
You sure about that?

"Gabriel asked if it was wrong for consumers to make copies of music which they have purchased, even just one copy. Pariser replied, "When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." Making "a copy" of a purchased song is just "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy'," she said. "

RE: Someone educate me...
By Solandri on 9/8/2008 4:50:00 PM , Rating: 3
The RIAA has got this weird licensed/sold concept where on any issue, they will take whichever stance (licensed or sold) favors them the most. If you want to back up the music, they will say it's sold so you can't make a copy. Back when selling used CDs was an issue, they claimed it was licensed and so First Sale doctrine didn't apply and you didn't have a right to resell it.

The Betamax decision hinged on non-commercial, non-infringing uses. Making a backup copy is not commercial (does not gain you any profit), and is non-infringing (you aren't distributing it).

The Grokster case relied on inducement to infringement. Making a backup copy does not induce someone else to infringe.

In fact if you look at fair use doctrine, a backup copy is just about the most benign form of copying you can come up with. In fact, if the work is licensed and you're not allowed to make a backup of it, then I would argue that if you happen to destroy the original, the record company must provide you with a replacement for the cost of the media. Otherwise they are violating the terms of the license. You paid them money for the right to listen to the music at will. They still have your money, but you have lost the ability to listen to the music, so they must remedy the situation. (To be fair, some companies, mostly software, do do this.)

RE: Someone educate me...
By tastyratz on 9/9/2008 8:37:38 AM , Rating: 2
I actually have seen this.

I had a copy of the xmen dvd when I first purchased it eons ago get scratched beyond usability. I made a phone call and they said they would replace it for something along the lines of 10 bux if I mailed the original to them. Wasn't worth it to me but at least it was an offered service.

RE: Someone educate me...
By FITCamaro on 9/9/2008 7:49:00 AM , Rating: 2
Many CDs have had DRM on them.

RE: Someone educate me...
By Sulphademus on 9/9/2008 9:40:18 AM , Rating: 2
Well, some of the newer ones (2005 on, I believe). And Sony had their ass handed to them by several state attourny generals on their DRM rootkit. Though 2$mil or whatever it was just ended up being a slap on the wrist.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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