Intellectual Property

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 and 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

NEXT: Designing Women Get Lawyers

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Nick,

    Spoilers should come in advance.

  2. a $10,000 computer server that makes and stores digital copies of up to 500 films.

    If you just rip straight DVDs, each film is at most 4.7gb. Searching google once for “500 gb hard drive” gives me prices under $80. So this server has $400 or so of hard disk space. My ~$1000 computer is capable of ripping dvds, and the software to do so is freely available. So why would anyone pay $10,000 for this server? At that cost, it should be able to store at least tens of thousands of movies.

    The DVD copying software makes just as little sense, since free software already exists which lets you rip dvds and doesn’t restrict where you can play the results.

  3. Totally unrelated…

    Your links to Republican and Democratic convention coverage on the home page are crossed. (Dem link goes to Republican coverage, Republican link goes to Dem coverage.)

  4. Fight piracy by selling a guy a very limited copy, and then trying to charge him 100 bucks if he wants to view the thing in 5 different places?

    Yeah, that will work. For reals. I’m sure the Pirate Bay guys are really worried.

    They need to get it through their heads that they will never make headway against piracy if the plan involves people paying more for less. Or even paying the same price for the same thing.

  5. Xmas,

    Might be a libertarian in-joke to indicate they think there is no real difference between the two…

  6. So why would anyone pay $10,000 for this server? At that cost, it should be able to store at least tens of thousands of movies.

    Kaleidescape’s business model, during start up at least, is targeted at extremely high-end buyers. As in, P. Diddy’s crib has a Kaleidescape system.

  7. I hear there is a bill in Congress to charge you a small fee each time you remember a scene from a movie, and a slightly larger fee each time you say to a friend, “You remember in the movie ______, when that guy said ______?”

  8. I regularly convert 3 gig DVD movies to 800 meg DiVX files so I can watch movies on my laptop while traveling. Any laws mandating that I must watch the 3 gig version or risk being singled out as a thief are rubbish.

    Like the man (Robert A. Heinlein) said:

    “I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”

  9. Extispicater,

    That could put a real crimp in the movie and tv quotes everyone is always using here(myself included).

  10. robc | September 9, 2008, 2:03pm

    Spoilers should come in advance.

    It was a rear spoiler

  11. Yeah, the king of screwed media players is going to get someone to pay for a toothless version of a DVD ripper? Good luck with that. I hope they didn’t bet the company on this product.

  12. Speaking of freely available DVD ripping software, anybody have suggestions?

  13. Get a mac, get Mac the Ripper and DVD ReMaster Pro.
    End of all the grief.

    no hugs for thugs,
    Shirley Knott

  14. DVD Shrink – you can watch on your PC or rip .iso files for DVD burning.

    DVD Decrypter – will unlock the encryption that DVD Shrink doesn’t handle.

    Handbrake – will make smaller .mp4 files out of DVDs.

    For burning, I recommend ImgBurn or Active ISO Burner.

  15. I regularly convert 3 gig DVD movies to 800 meg DiVX files so I can watch movies on my laptop while traveling.

    What software do you use?

  16. Oh, yeah, okay.

    *goes back to torrenting*

  17. Hollywood is just plain dumb. First they force you to watch first run movies in over-priced theaters with insanely over-priced concession items. Then they distribute the same content on over-priced, fragile DVDs and now they want you to pay again and again for different digital formats like HD-DVD, Blu-ray, Sony PSP, Aple iPod, iPhone, Zune, etc., etc. Until a fair business model is developed with fair prices AND that protects consumer’s Fair Use rights, there will always be bootlegs and dvd copy software like the ones listed at:

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.