GameHouse–the casual gaming arm of RealNetworks that’s been around under one name or another for a decade–is trying to respond in a big way to the rise of social games, virtual gifts, the Facebook platform, and other trends reflected in wildly popular games such as FarmVille. At the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, it’s launching a platform of its own it calls GameHouse Fusion–a set of services designed to help game developers bake social features into their products. They include everything from simple social stuff like leaderboards to special trophies gamers can create themselves; virtual goods; hosting and ad-sales services; and more. And they’re designed for browser-based games (including ones built for both the Facebook and OpenSocial platforms), downloadable ones, and ones for the iPhone and other mobile phones.
Tag Archives | RealNetworks
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…
RealNetworks’ Rhapsody is a very nicely done music service. But like all subscription music offerings it’s been profoundly hobbled by the fact that it’s incompatible with iPods, the devices that dominate portable digital music. That’s about to change. Sort of. Maybe.
Over at its corporate blog, RealNetworks its reporting that it’s submitted a Rhapsody application to the iPhone App Store. The app would bring Rhapsody to the iPhone and iPod Touch, letting owners of those devices pay a monthly fee ($14.99, apparently–the price of a Rhapsody to Go account) for unlimited access to the millions of tracks in Real’s catalog.
Here’s a video from Real showing the app in action:
Rhapsody for iPhone is missing one key feature offered by Rhapsody to Go on other devices: It can stream music (over both 3G and Wi-Fi) but can’t store it locally. That means it only works when you have an Internet connection. Real says it may add local music storage later, and that an upcoming Android version of Rhapsody will store music locally.
The 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.
Want a reason to check out RealPlayer SP, the new beta of the next version of RealPlayer, a media player that most of us have used at one time or another but which is no longer omnipresent? It’s got a new feature that’s pretty cool: the ability to easily download video from YouTube and other sites, convert it, and then get it onto a bevy of devices.
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:
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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Why is the woman in the above image from RealNetworks RealDVD site smiling? You’d think she’d look just a tad glum given that the software, launched just last week, has been pulled off the market. According to NewTeeVee, a court has told Real to stop distributing the company’s DVD copying software until Tuesday while it reviews the case. That’s the latest development in the legal tussle that has Real suing Hollywood, Hollywood suing Real, and most consumers, I suspect, rooting for Real–except for those who think that the company is a bad guy itself for selling software that not only preserves DVD’s encryption on the copies it makes but adds additional DRM.
I sure hope that Real prevails, and quickly; RealDVD is a small but real positive development for consumers who want to get more out of media they’ve paid for, and it doesn’t let anyone put copies on BitTorrent or otherwise engage in mass piracy. If even its limited functionality is forbidden or stuck in legal limbo, it’s going to be really depressing.
I’m not a lawyer, though, so I’m not going to make any predictions about RealDVD’s fate. You’d think that Real wouldn’t have gone to the expense and bother of developing it if it wasn’t reasonably confident that it could sell the darn application, but perhaps it gambled and gambled badly. (I do regret declaring that the software was “clearly legal” in my review: I was…clearly wrong. Or at least not clearly right.)
Oh, and Technologizer gave away ten license codes for RealDVD yesterday to members of our community, so I’m rooting for the current RealDVD takedown to indeed end on Tuesday so those winners can make use of their codes.
We have winners! Our giveaway of ten copies of Real’s RealDVD software is now complete. The software was released earlier this week and has already inspired legal warfare between Real and Hollywood–I know who I’m rooting for–so it’ll probably stay in the news for awhile, and its fate remains unknown. But the following lucky Technologizer Community members get the application for free, and license codes are in their inboxes as we speak:
Congrats to the winners–and thanks to everyone who took the time to enter.