Legal DVD Ripping Now A Real Option

Dennis Faas's picture

RealNetworks, the company behind the RealPlayer software, has produced a DVD-ripping package which it claims does not break copyright laws.

Unlike most ripping software, much of which has faced distribution problems after legal threats, RealDVD copies the entire contents of discs including the copy protection itself. It appears the contents will be copied in a specific format which can only be played back through the RealDVD software rather than, for example, Windows Media Player.

The copied files will also be set-up in such a way that they only play on the original hard drive and can't be recopied. A copy made on a portable hard drive will work on up to five different computers. (Source:

The real problem with Real's package is that it seems unlikely that consumers will pay the $30 retail price for something that gives them less options than other ripping software available without charge. Indeed, even those who have no intention of 'stealing' content will find it easier and cheaper to use the free CSS-Decryptor which, while illegal to distribute, can be found online with very little effort.

There are also plenty of packages which are set-up for use in countries that don't share American laws that ban the removal of the CSS protection system found on commercial DVDs. Many of these packages make it easy for US users to copy discs simply by claiming to be from other countries. (Source:

And while RealDVD is far from ideal for consumers, it's also unlikely to make movie companies all that happy. It does nothing to block the 'rip and return' pattern where members of movie rental sites can copy discs to their computers and send them back unwatched so they can get more movies from each month's subscription.

RealNetworks' response to this is pretty weak. Spokesperson Lacy Kemp wrote on a company blog: "What about movies from say, Netflix or Blockbuster? Call us crazy, but we are putting YOU on the honor system. If you do not own the movie, we do not want you to copy it. We're trusting our users to respect the movie studios and not abuse this technology." (Source:

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