Real Launches DVD Copying, Files Suit

RealNetworks announced the availability of its RealDVD DVD “storage” software, and doubled-down on the sure-to-be controversial product by pre-emptively announcing a lawsuit against the major Hollywood studios. From the press release:

“In response to threats made by the major movie studios, RealNetworks this morning plans to file an action for a declaratory judgment against DVD Copy Control Association, Inc., Disney Enterprises, Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp., Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., NBC Universal, Inc., Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., and Viacom, Inc., in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The lawsuit asks the court to rule that RealNetworks Home Entertainment, Inc.’s RealDVD software, made available to consumers today at www.realdvd.com, fully complies with the DVD Copy Control Association’s license agreement.”

Announced at DEMO earlier this month, the RealDVD software allows users to copy entire movies from DVDs onto an PC (no Mac support until next year), external storage drive or flash drive. The company believes that the RealDVD service is legal because it does not alter the original file (no compression, no DRM cracking), plus an added encryption layer that only allows you to play back the movies on licensed computers (you have to pay for a separate license for each PC). The court has previously sided with a similar DVD storage product called Kaleidascape.

RealDVD is only supposed to be used with DVDs you own (good luck with that), and the company is trying to cover its derriere by adding a disclaimer “RealDVD is for saving a DVD you own. If you do not own this DVD, select play” before you copy a DVD. Perhaps sensing that a flimsy statement might not be enough, RealNetworks filed suit to protect itself.

At DEMO, Real told us that Hollywood studios were aware of RealDVD and the two sides were continuing talks. We have contacted Real to find out specifically which studios and which threats the press release is referring to, and the company has said it will provide further details later this morning.

Honestly, this seems more like a marketing ploy than Real drawing a line in the sand to protect consumer’s rights. While Real was a pioneer in the new media space with its RealPlayer more than a decade a ago, the online video revolution passed the company by, and it must now create controversy to maintain the appearance of relevancy.

For those interested in checking out RealDVD, we have 20 free invites for you to check it out. If you want one, leave a message with your real email address and we’ll send you the information. First come, first served.

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