'Rent, rip, return': RealNetworks' RealDVD trial continues

The same judge who oversaw the Napster case is now overseeing the ongoing case against RealNetworks and that company's RealDVD software. As previously reported on Neowin, the software allows users to make back-ups of their DVDs, either to their hard drives or to writeable DVD media. The six largest film studios in Hollywood have united in an effort to have RealDVD banned, arguing that people will stop paying the full amount for movies and TV shows on DVD if they can simply rent them, rip them, and return them.

According to the RealDVD homepage, the RealDVD software itself is sold as providing consumers with the following benefits:

  • Take your DVDs with you and leave your discs behind
  • Save and play movies at the same time - with a single click
  • Browse by title, genres, and actor
  • Find and play movies and TV shows instantly
  • Protect your discs from scratches and damage
  • Save your movies legally, and with confidence
It is perhaps ironic, in light of that last listed benefit, that RealNetworks announces on the very same webpage, "Due to recent legal action taken by the Hollywood movie studios against us, RealDVD is temporarily unavailable."

Defending RealDVD, RealNetworks states, "The bottom line is that Hollywood does not want you to have the same 'fair use rights' to make a backup copy of your DVDs in the same way that you have had with your music CDs for more than a decade. Hollywood argues that RealDVD circumvents the technology that prevents illegal copying; RealDVD does not compromise any such protections. In fact, RealDVD adds more stringent protections to prevent piracy or other illegal copying. Real respects the rights of content creators and legitimate rights holders, and we want to work with them to continue delivering innovative digital entertainment technology (like RealDVD) that ultimately benefit you."

According to MSNBC, Hollywood considers RealDVD a real threat to the $20 billion it rakes in annually from DVD sales, noting that the software encourages "rent, rip and return".

It is not, however, as if RealDVD offers any benefits that cannot be had already. All manner of software has long existed to provide users with the features noted, and much of that software is available free.

One problem for Hollywood is that RealNetworks is a major player and that RealDVD would likely have a significant impact among consumers. Another problem, and perhaps a more important problem, is that RealDVD may actually be 100% legal under current US copyright law.

RealNetworks is claiming in their 24 April Response to Motion for Preliminary Injunction, as the company has always maintained, that RealDVD works well within the rules of American copyright law, including the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, to help consumers take advantage of their fair-use rights with regard to copy-protected DVDs.

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37 Comments

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HalcyonX12 said,
People were doing this with VHS tapes, but they didn't sue those who made VCRs.


That was tried (Walt Disney Pictures vs. Sony Corporation of America; the infamous *Betamax case*), and Disney got waxed in a Supreme Court decision that is pretty much THE precedent for video recording rights for non-commercial use in the United States.

The six largest film studios in Hollywood have united in an effort to have RealDVD banned, arguing that people will stop paying the full amount for movies and TV shows on DVD if they can simply rent them, rip them, and return them.
As opposed to ..downloading them for free.

They should simply ban eyes.

They would get money but you would not be able to actually watch the movie because you can tell the story of the movie to friends or tell them the movie ***** so they wont pay to see it which is a bad thing. Bad or good all movies should make tons of money.

I think 5% of what the workers earn should go directly to the RIAA and MPAA.

medium_pimpin said,
How is this different that DVD Fab or Handbrake?

Exactly what I been saying. I see no difference in this compared to all the other cd/dvd ripping programs. If they really want to be dicks about it why not just go after cd/dvd media companies.

I rip all my DVDs and CDs to my desktops as soon as I get them. It is just a whole lot easier to go to a folder and click play, rather than search for the disk. Also allows me to play it on my xbox or laptop over my LAN, rather than searching for disks again.

It is just crazy the companies are trying to stop users being able to do this sort of thing.

This is stupid! I mean god i work as an IT Tech, if we never made backup copys or ripped copys of our cd's we would be so far up the river without a paddle it would not be funny!
CD's get lost and damaged, and i dont know about you guys but i hate paying to get a new CD.

I normaly RIP my cd's and play the ripped versions (goes for software as well), why i hear you ask, because i dont want to loose my original cd or get it damaged! In the UK it's not exactly cheap to get a new disc, when DVD movies retail for between £13 and £18 depending on the movie! And well music cd's aint exactly cheap! Some range from £8-£12.

Agree 100%. I been buying and collecting music since 1956 (showing my age). If I hadn't backed up over three-thousand records (45 & 33s), 1500 reel to reel tapes to mp3's over the past fifteen years those could have been lost to me forever. Oh, the reason for so many reel to reel's is that is what I used to back up my records with.

The problem is a lot of people use technology like this for legitimate reasons. I rent movies on DVD and if I like them I buy them. But if I am shelling out $25-30 on a movie you can bet I will also pick up a blank disc and copy it before I play it. It is my right to do so as long as I'm not distributing it and I have paid for it.

Most people I know who have children do the same because kids go through DVDs almsot as fast as they go through pop tarts. It only makes sense to back up your media.

It is unfortunate that people with an entitlement attitude disability abuse the system to copy movies illegally but that shouldn't prevent the honest consumers like myself from exercising our right to a media backup. It's bad enough we have to pay a levy on our media in Canada. Another example of the honest footing the bill for the criminals.

There's many reason a DVD can break. Children is one of them.

The DVD reader itselft can break the disc too. I had to replace my Halo 3 disc once because for an unkown reason the DVD drive of the 360 went crazy and the disc stabilizator failed. The disc had a big dent in the middle. Luckily i called MS and they exchanged the disc for free. But i'm sure not all companies do that.

I too always backup all my CD and DVD. Can't backup my comsole games though

I don't know why they think this program is a real problem. Their a few
programs floating around that can rip the DVD to your PC right now.
I think they are over reacting about RealDVD ... Most likely it's going
to be bloated and very buggy ...

The point the MPAA is attempting is to bring down just one, and with that one down then they have set a presedent. Now if they win this they can go after the others who offer the same style applications. Think Napster (though in today's world there are bittorrents). To answer your question; yes you should have the right to backup any form of media you purchase at retail.

US copyright laws allow for a "backup" copy to be made (and yes I mean ONLY for backup)... it's kind of hard to do that with DRM and encrypted content... so really the movie studios and their publishers are infringing on customer rights

The problem is the law. The way the DMCA is written, the consumer has few rights, and the industry has many rights. The DMCA needs to be revised.

neufuse said,
US copyright laws allow for a "backup" copy to be made (and yes I mean ONLY for backup)... it's kind of hard to do that with DRM and encrypted content... so really the movie studios and their publishers are infringing on customer rights

US Copyright law does NOT let you make a backup of a movie you have only rented!

rob.derosa said,
US Copyright law does NOT let you make a backup of a movie you have only rented!

so that makes the software illegal? Why are they not taking all the other companies to court or even the ones that make free software? Just because some people use it illegally, doesn't mean you have to take everyones rights away

rob.derosa said,
US Copyright law does NOT let you make a backup of a movie you have only rented!


the fact that something can be used for illegal purposes doesn't make the product itself illegal. You can use a baseball bat to smash a head in and go to jail for murder. That doesn't make baseball illegal

Next they will try to sue people for keeping copies of movies and songs in their memories.
In a side note, I have always hated RealNetworks. At least back in the day, their software/codec was really awefull. It fooled some of my noob friends into thinking they HAD to buy their software. I still remember all the ads and crap in it. Although the apple quicktime isn't much better.

They are trying to ban the product with their mind on 'how bad is it for piracy'. What about people that actually buy movies? They want that software too. MPAA sucks big time.

They can try banning it all they want, who uses Real's bloatware anyways. As long as US doesn't introduce China's alike firewall onto its citizens, there is plenty of tools to backup your movies which you can download freely from the Internet.

For example:
DVD Shrink - DVD Ripping and Backup
Latest Version - 3.2.0.15
License - Freeware

RealDVD is not for backuping, it's actually a DVD media library, from what I've heard.

It's very important that they win, because if they do, other less-bloated DVD libraries will show up.

The problem with these idiots at MPAA is the fact that you own a license to this product that you have purchased. If the media goes bad or it is scratched, then legally they should ship you a replacement disc free of charge, but that would be too normal in their own mind and make you pay for a second copy. You could record stuff from TV to VCR that is fair use and you could make a backup of a VCR tape why not your own DVD or CD?

gnuman said,
The problem with these idiots at MPAA is the fact that you own a license to this product that you have purchased. If the media goes bad or it is scratched, then legally they should ship you a replacement disc free of charge, but that would be too normal in their own mind and make you pay for a second copy. You could record stuff from TV to VCR that is fair use and you could make a backup of a VCR tape why not your own DVD or CD?


Not to mention... dvd's with mastering defects.. sometimes go away on a backup copy. Knight Rider season discs were notorious for this. And mom got sick of it that like me we don't use dvd cases anymore. Who wants to buy a $50 set of North & South again. This might be comparable to old CFL lights, they used to be made to last, but today's CFL lights, your lucky if you get them to last 1/2 a year. Same thing will happen to LED lights I'm sure. Interestingly I think incadescent bulbs were built to last, but companies couldn't afford to make a bulb no one would replace so they aren't built to last. :P