Legally Ripping DVDs


Remember when you could go to jail for discussing the circumvention of copyright protections? Good times, courtesy of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, one of the most boneheaded pieces of legislation to come down the pike. (And whose legacy of restraining individual rights is still strong.)

Well those days are over, more or less, with the release of RealNetworks' RealDVD program, which lets you legally rip DVDs. Early reviews of the program are not good, but what's more important is the salvo this shoots across the bow of the big entertainment companies (spoiler alert: you just read a horrible metaphor), who have been determined not to let happen to prerecorded DVDs what they think happened to prerecorded CDs. That is, not let anybody make copies of anything, even for personal use, because it will lead to reduced sales. What the entertainment companies fail to grasp is that, as Metallica could tell you, it never pays in the long run to make it tougher for the audience to get its favored material.

According to The New York Times, RealNetworks is ready to duke it out with Hollywood. Or, perhaps the same thing, give it a way of moving from an increasingly less effective, old-style model to a newer one that actually reflects how people consume video. From the Times' account:

In March 2007, the DVD Copy Control Association, an alliance that licenses the encryption for DVDs, 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.

The DVD association has appealed the ruling. But Mr. Glaser thinks the decision has created the framework for a legal DVD copying product with built-in restrictions to prevent piracy.

The software, which will go on sale on Real.com and Amazon.com this month, will allow buyers to make one copy of a DVD, playable only on the computer where it was made. The user can transfer that copy to up to five other Windows computers, but only by buying additional copies of the software for $20 each. The software does not work on high-definition Blu-ray discs, which the movie industry has even more aggressively sought to protect from illicit copying.

More here.

reason Contributing Editor and Digeratum Mike Godwin looked forward to the fight between the Tech Faction and the Content Faction years ago here