Tag Archives | Real Networks

RealPlayer SP Reaches the Mac

Last June, I wrote about RealPlayer SP, a cool new version of the venerable, not-universally-beloved media player that shifted its emphasis. Instead of primarily being about playback, it served as a hub for easy conversion of Web video for playback on a bevy of devices–MP3 players like the iPod, smartphones, gaming consoles, and more. At the time, RealPlayer SP was a Windows-only product, but Real said it would bring it to Mac users by the end of 2009.

It took a little longer than the company thought, but a beta version of RealPlayer SP for OS X is available for download now–Real gave me a sneak peek last week–and is largely similar to the Windows version. A utility runs in the background and watches as you view videos at YouTube, DailyMotion, MetaCafe, and others that offer DRM-free content. As in RealPlayer 11, SP’s predecessor, you can download video files to your Mac for later playback in Real itself. But now you can also transfer them to forty-plus gadgets with a couple of clicks. RealPlayer chooses a format and settings, does the conversion, and even places the resulting video in the proper location for syncing when possible. For instance, it dumps video destined for an iPod or iPhone into iTunes, so it’s transferred the next time you sync.

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Labels Plan to Sue Real over RealDVD, But Real Strikes First

The Associated Press and CNET are both seperately reporting that the major movie studios are set to file suit against Real over its DVD copying software, apparently ready to ask for a temporary restraining order to prevent distribution of RealDVD.

But as Harry pointed out bright and early this morning, Real has landed the first punch. The company is filing an action for declaratory judgement (see here for a definition) that asks the court to find that Real’s software is in compliance with the DVD Copy Control Association’s license agreement.

Real points out that it maintains some type of digital rights management when ripping the discs. Ripped files can only be played on computers owned by the copier. This would effectively prevent the file from being usable for those wishing to share it over P2P networks.

In its statement, Real points out the Kaleidescape case, where the DVD Copy Control Association sued the company for its ripping software, which allows entertainment enthusiasts to store their media content on a central home media server. Kaleidescape prevailed in that case.

Real argues that the legal action is intended to protect consumers.

“RealNetworks took this legal action to protect consumers’ ability to exercise their fair-use rights for their purchased DVDs … we are disappointed that the movie industry is following in the footsteps of the music industry and trying to shut down advances in technology rather than embracing changes that provide consumers with more value and flexibility for their purchases.”

For those of us who don’t care much for the strong-arm tactics of the entertainment industry when it comes to copyright, this can be seen as nothing but good news. I give the early edge to Real on this, who is obviously taking every reasonable step to prevent illicit use of its software. What more does the MPAA expect?

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RealDVD Now Available; Ten Free Copies for Technologizer Community Members

[UPDATE: RealDVD is already the subject of legal wrangling–Real announced today that it’s suing the Hollywood studios to protect the product against charges that it’s illegal. Press release here.]

RealNetworks is announcing that its RealDVD software is available for download and purchase today. It is, for the moment at least, unique: It’s the first software for DVD copying that goes about it in a way designed to sidestep problems with U.S. copyright law, and it’s also the easiest application I’ve seen for PC-based DVD copying and playback.

I review the application here, and do so reasonably favorably–it’s fast and simple, and you wind up with a library of saved DVDs that’s a snap to browse through. (Limitations: You can’t move copies to portable devices, and options for sharing them among PCs are limited to external drives.) Folks who are already hardcore users of DVD rippers such as Handbrake probably won’t be drawn to RealDVD, but I think it stands a good chance of becoming popular with the larger group of PC users who have never dealt with the complexities–both technical and legal–of using existing DVD copiers.

You can download a thirty-day trial version of RealDVD before you plunk down your $29.99. But how’d you like to get it for free, period? Real has supplied Technologizer with ten license codes, and we’ll give ’em away to members of the community. Here’s how to get a chance at snagging one:

1) Make sure you’re a registered member of the Technologizer Community. If you already are, great; if not, it just takes a moment to sign up, which you can do here.

2) Make sure you’re signed into the community, then visit my profile page.

3) Use the “Send a message” link on the left-hand side of the page (under my smiling face) to send me a message saying you’d like a chance at a license code. “Please enter me for a RealDVD code” is all I need to know.

That’s it. Ping me by 12pm noon PT on Thursday, October 2nd–later that day, we’ll choose ten winners at random, and alert them by e-mail with the codes by midnight on Friday. And we’ll report back in a post on who won the free copies, just so the world knows we did indeed give them away.

Good luck! And if you try RealDVD, let us know what you think of it.

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Real DVDs Ripped to Your PC. Legally. Really?

Have you ever ripped a commercial DVD to your PC? If so, you’ve probably used a product like Handbrake whose legality is at best sketchy, since it breaks copy protection and therefore violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Chances of the copyright police breaking down your door and hauling you away are slim. But starting later this month, you might be able to copy all the DVDs you want without fear of legal consequences.

The New York Times is reporting that Real Networks will announce RealDVD tomorrow at the DEMO conference in San Francisco. (Which is where I am–I’ll be in the audience when it does.) Real is presumably betting that it’s figured out a way to make a DVD copying program that won’t be sued into oblivion in a nanosecond. And even if they bet wrong, it’s going to be fascinating to watch it come to market.

RealDVD doesn’t sound like total DVD-copying nirvana: It won’t produce DRM-free copies of DVDs that you can copy at will, download to your iPod, or upload to BitTorrent, according to the Times. Rather, its copies will retain copy protection; you can play them on only up to five PCs, and only if you’ve paid for the $30 software on each of those machines. That’s a significant set of limitations, but it would still allow you to store a library of movies on your hard drive for playback. (I’m not sure offhand whether you’d be able to keep them on a networked hard drive for playback via multiple computers around the house, but I sure hope so–it would be nifty.)

The Times quotes a technology exec at a studio who sounds skeptical about RealDVD, which isn’t surprising; it’s hard to imagine anyone in Hollywood speaking positively about it, at least for the record. But the real question isn’t whether Hollywood is thrilled with the idea of RealDVD–it’s whether it’s legal. If it is, this is great news, and other companies will presumably jump into the market with similar products once Real has tested the legal waters.

I’m looking forward to learning more at DEMO tomorrow, and even more so to trying RealDVD once I can get my hands on it. Keep your fingers crossed: If it is indeed a real way to put DVDs on your PC easily and legally, it’ll be very good news for consumers with DVD collections that they don’t want to be forced to repuchase as digital downloads…