There is a plethora of DVD-ripping software out there already that allows the user to copy the content of a DVD to their hard drive – even though the copyright owners are not so happy about this – but these programs are not legal and not verified, and more often than not require a little technical expertise to get going.
But RealNetworks, one of the first firms to bring multimedia players to the web, is bringing out a product called RealDVD that will let us rip content, right down to the extras and artwork, right onto our hard drives. It will also organise our movies and TV shows into genres and actors.
Is this the end of the road for the movie industry’s DVD revenue in the same way that the ability to rip CDs changed the nature of the music game? Hardly. RealNetworks has built in a few restrictions that will make sure you cannot go on a rent, rip and return spree and share your entire back catalogue with the wider world via p2p networks and bit torrents.
While you can conveniently have an exact copy of your DVD on your hard drive, it is protected in a few key ways that may satisfy contentowners from the point of view of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
First off, RealDVD allows only one copy to be ripped from the DVD, which can only be stored on and played from the designated hard drive it is installed upon – unless you pay for additional licences on other Windows computers, then up to five computers can share and play the content.
If you decide to rip the DVD to an external hard drive or a USB key you can, but it will only play on a machine with a RealDVD licence key. So far, RealDVD only works with machines running on Windows XP or Vista.
The new program will be unveiled today by RealNetworks at DemoFall http://www.demo.com/ in San Diego.
By Marie Boran
Pictured: A soon-to-be rip-roaring success? RealNetwork’s RealDVD software will allow you to rip DVD content right onto your hard drive