RealNetworks Launching DVD Ripping Service; Will It Make Any Ripples?

DVD ripping software have been around for the longest of times, but this is a more mainstream attempt at it, and continues RealNetworks’ (NSDQ: RNWK) efforts to stir up the pot a bit: later this month it is launching a new software called RealDVD, which will allow Windows users to easily make a digital copy of an entire DVD, along with all the extras on it. It will cost $30, which will probably be a big barrier in adoption. The idea is to allow users to make backup copies for their personal use on laptops.

I imagine *Netflix*, *Blockbuster* and indeed the movie studios may not be the happiest about this, but Real is touting that this is licensed DVD software that saves a secure copy of the DVD to user’s hard drive, with the CSS encryption intact, which means normal piracy/sharing of this video will not be easy. Users will be able to view the ripped DVD on one computer and four others, as long as they download and pay for the software (less money: $20 for those four licenses) on those five others and have the same login. It does not work on Blu-Ray or HD DVD.

It also believes the legal stranglehold of studios on personal user DVD copying is loosening. As NYT (FRB: 066570) mentions in its story, in March 2007, the DVD Copy Control Association lost a lawsuit against Kaleidescape, a Silicon Valley start-up company that sells a $10,000 computer server that makes and stores digital copies of up to 500 films. RNWK CEO Rob Glaser thinks the decision has created the framework for a legal DVD copying product with built-in piracy restrictions, the story says.

Also, Real started notifying the studios last week of the product; still to be seen how they react. According to the NYT story, Bill Rosenblatt, editor of DRM Watch, said the future for RealDVD probably depends on the outcome of the Kaleidescape appeal. If a higher court reverses the decision and hands the movie industry a decisive victory over DVD copying technology,