Tag Archives | RealDVD

Real Loses RealDVD Case

RealDVD, the DVD-copying software which I reviewed and sort of liked during the five minutes in 2008 it was actually for sale, is dead. Real has settled with the Motion Picture Association of America and a permanent injunction bars it from ever selling the software again.

Bad news for Real, and equally bad news for consumers. Bad news for copyright laws that aren’t kind of a joke, too: Real tried to make Hollywood happy and its product was sued into extinction, but with Handbrake alive and well, bootleg movies are at least as commonplace as bootleg hooch during Prohibition…


Kaleidescape Loses in DVD-Copying Battle, Too

KaleidescapeFor years, the high-end consumer-electronics device known as Kaleidescape has provided good reason to  wish you were filthy rich. Starting at around $8,000 but mostly going way, way up from there, the systems let you store DVDs to hard disks and browse and watch them from multiple TVs around your house. But the DVD-copying aspect–which can be approximated with free software and a cheap network drive–was only part of the product’s appeal. What really made it interesting was the software, which sported one of the slickest, most thoughtful user interfaces this side of Cupertino. It’s like what Apple TV might be on an unlimited budget, if it let you enjoy the DVD movies you’d already bought rather than making you pay to download them again.

Now Kaleidescape has suffered a court defeat to Hollywood, just a day after RealDVD (which is a sort of poor man’s Kaleidescape in software form) did. Two years ago, Kaleidescape won a rare victory relating to DVD-copying in the digital age, but a California state appellate judge has overturned that decision. As I understand it, the Kaleidescape case doesn’t involve questions of fair use but whether Kaleidescape abused the license it obtained from the DVD Copy Control Association for CSS, the encryption standard used to lock up DVDs. But I’d still rather see products like RealDVD and Kaleidescape win in court than lose. The ruling won’t force Kaleidescape to pull products off the market immediately, and could be overturned.

Greg Sandoval’s piece on Kaleidescape and RealDVD at Cnet has one shred of sort-of-good news: Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, who ruled in the RealDVD case, said that she wasn’t saying that consumers definitely don’t have the right to back up their DVDs under certain circumstances. But here’s a bit of big-picture optimism: The Betamax case which established fair-use ground rules for copied movies in the first place got all the way to the Supreme Court before Sony (and, indirectly, consumers) scored definitive victory over the studios. Let’s hope that both Kaleidescape and Real have plenty of fight left in them.


RealDepressing: RealDVD Loses a Round in Court

RealDVD logoThe New York Times’ Brad Stone is reporting that U.S. Federal District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel has ruled against RealNetworks in the lawsuit filed by the movie studios against RealDVD, its software for copying DVDs to your hard drive. Judge Patel granted the studios a preliminary injunction against Real selling the software, which seems like kind of a formality given that she stopped Real from selling it almost as soon as it went on sale last September.

RealDVD isn’t a tool for pirates. Actually, it adds an extra layer of copy protection to prevent you from doing anything except copying a movie to one hard drive for viewing on one computer at a time. (You can’t even put the movies on a shared drive to watch them from multiple computers on one network.) The court is apparently inclined to look askance at even a fundamentally hobbled (albeit easy-to-use) DVD copier.

Meanwhile, tools like Handbrake let large numbers of people copy DVDs without any of RealDVD’s measures against sharing the digital copies with friends or tossing them onto BitTorrent for the world to download. I also remain unclear on why Telestream’s Drive-in–which is, basically, a Mac version of RealDVD except that it also comes in a multi-user version–is still around when RealDVD is apparently too dangerous to be let onto the market while Real waits for a final ruling. Maybe it has something to do with RealNetworks being a relatively large company that might actually succeed in getting ordinary folks to use its software?

Meanwhile, the RealDVD site lives on in forlorn limbo, complete with a woman gamely smiling on the home page and a guided tour of the product. The site says the app is “temporarily unavailable” and that Real “will continue to work diligently to provide you with software that allows you to make a legal copy of your DVDs for your own use.” I hope that means that the company will soldier on with both this case and the countersuit it filed against six Hollywood studios on antitrust grounds. Whether or not you ever use RealDVD–or even if its limitations would drive you a little bonkers–any victories it scored in court would be great news for consumers. And if it loses, the message will be that there are absolutely no circumstances under which law-abiding consumers can make a copy of a DVD they’ve paid for in order to enjoy it in a new way.

RealDVD limbo


RealDVD on Trial

RealDVD logoRealDVD, the DVD-copying application from Real which I reviewed back in September during the brief period it was available before Hollywood stepped in and convinced a court to yank it, is fighting for its life in a San Francisco court. Wired has a good report on the proceedings so far. Maybe I’m just being pessimistic, but reading it leaves me thinking that U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel is inclined to side with Hollywood, not with Real and with the notion that consumers have the right to duplicates DVDs in a way that preserves copy protection, puts extreme limitations on what they can do with the copies, and makes it impossible for them to distribute them via file-sharing networks.

If RealDVD is ruled to be illegal, it’ll be sad. It’ll also be kind of silly.  Kaleidescape makes a neat home entertainment system that does something very similar to what RealDVD does–for thousands of dollars. Telestream’s $39 Drive-In is also much like RealDVD–but it runs only on Macs. And we seem to be nowhere near any scenario that involves users of DVD rippers such as Handbrake–which override copy protection altogether–being thrown in jail.

Basically, the only thing that prohibiting release of RealDVD does is to prevent Windows users who aren’t all that well-heeled–and who bend over backwards to respect copy protection–from creating digital copies of their DVDs for personal use. Everybody else can go on merrily copying their movies. Remind me again just what purpose would be served by eliminating it from the market?


RealDVD: Still in Limbo

Here’s a ZDNet story which nicely summarizes what’s up with RealNetworks’ RealDVD DVD-copy software, which was released last week only to instantly become the subject of legal warfare between Real and Hollywood. The basic question: Does RealDVD’s copying, which duplicates a DVD’s contents to a PC’s hard drive while maintaining all copy protection and adding an additional layer to prevent piracy, violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act?

RealDVD has been unavailable since Friday, when the studios won an emergency restraining order which forced Real to stop sales. A Federal judge is hearing arguments on RealDVD’s fate today. I hope the restraining order is lifted; more important, I hope that RealDVD’s legal status is cleared up quickly, and in Real’s favor. The manner of copying it provides is fundamentally limited: You can’t put a movie onto an iPod or a home network, let alone release it to BitTorrent. It’s designed to let consumers get a little more out of the entertainment they’ve already paid for. And if even that runs afoul of current copyright law, it’s pretty darn depressing.

So I’m hoping for the best today. But for the moment, the RealDVD site‘s smiling lady is still the bearer of bad news:

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The T-List: RIP, iPhone NDA

Last week was one of comings and goings. iPhone NDA? Gone! Windows Cloud? On its way! RealDVD? Here, then gone! Windows XP? Six more months before it might be gone! And iTunes? Still here, thank heavens!
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