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.