Real Relevant?
September 30, 2008 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Considering DVDs seem a bit long in the tooth, this recent foray into the world of DVD ripping seemed a thinly veiled attempt to pick a fight with the MPAA. After invoking the Glaser Doctrine this morning, guess they got what they wanted.

Hate, hate, HATE or tolerate the company, they've pulled a couple interesting stunts.

Of course the widely-used, DMCA-breaking DeCSS method of ripping has been around for years, but was apparently made possible by RealNetworks itself in 1999.

Their new, (purportedly) legal route was inspired by this suit won against the DVD CCA last year.
Talk about a 10-year plan!
posted by shunshine (32 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This (buffering) sounds like another (buffering) bad product from (buffering) Real.
posted by porn in the woods at 3:01 PM on September 30, 2008 [9 favorites]

Glaser Doctrine? Eh?
posted by jmhodges at 3:02 PM on September 30, 2008

lockpicks = perfectly legal.
dvd rippers = too much potential for illegal activity.
posted by shmegegge at 3:10 PM on September 30, 2008

Glaser Doctrine? Eh?

Was intended as a humorous description of their strategy of preemptive litigation
posted by shunshine at 3:13 PM on September 30, 2008

I couldn't read the articles... it said something about a RealPlayer plugin.
posted by clearly at 3:17 PM on September 30, 2008

You can appeal this decision by upgrading to Real Pro*.

Or for an extra $20** you can upgrade to have this heard in a real court with Real Judgment Pro Silver Deluxe pass!

alternately, simply accept this decision for reduced ram, increased popup windows, bonus product alerts and new Real launch accelerator - because you only use your computer to run Real, right?

* $30 per month subscription for a minimum of one million years. Cancel anytime by [BUFFERING]
** Including a promotional surcharge of only $20 per week. Uninstaller is available for the low price of [BUFFERING] from http://[BUFFERING]/

for the free real player basic, squint here and kiss control of your registry goodbye.

posted by davemee at 3:19 PM on September 30, 2008 [8 favorites]

I hope Real wins. And that their product doesn't suck.

I think the former is more likely than the latter.
posted by SirOmega at 3:19 PM on September 30, 2008

This (buffering) sounds like another (buffering) bad product from (buffering) Real.

Real (buffering)
posted by clearly at 3:19 PM on September 30, 2008 [7 favorites]

Real argues that its $49 RealDVD application does not break a DVD's CSS encryption in the process of copying a DVD, and further, that it "also adds another layer of digital rights management encryption that effectively locks the DVD copy to the owner's computer to ensure that the content can not be improperly copied or shared."

WTF? The benefit to this is what, exactly?

Real doesn't hate the MPAA, they want to be the MPAA.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:22 PM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Win or lose, it's not going to make a big difference. Ripping DVDs is trivial. As an anarchist, I support pointless laws which destroy the government's credibility in the eyes of the populace.
posted by mullingitover at 3:24 PM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Real(tm) question is how Real stays in business? Who the hell pays for their shit software?
posted by GuyZero at 3:27 PM on September 30, 2008

Who the hell pays for their shit software?

The same people who fall for spam.
posted by porpoise at 3:29 PM on September 30, 2008 [2 favorites] should adopt the "Fair and Balanced" tagline.
posted by BeerFilter at 3:30 PM on September 30, 2008

From the NYT article: This has not happened nearly as much with DVDs, for both practical and legal reasons.

So all those cheap terabyte harddrives are being used for, what exactly? Porn?

posted by WolfDaddy at 3:32 PM on September 30, 2008

“Real doesn't hate the MPAA, they want to be the MPAA.”

Or worse - be the middleman for the MPAA.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:33 PM on September 30, 2008

Or more worse - be SEEN as the middleman for the MPAA, *and* get sued by the MPAA.

From most of the reaction I've seen (admittedly, engadget and /. are probably not the target audience), no one is really clamoring for this, especially with the extra restrictions they've added in order to tiptoe the line of legality. And it's still going to get them sued.

Maybe the plan is to focus on core competencies: probably got a lot of bored lawyers after that Microsoft litigation ended.
posted by shunshine at 3:44 PM on September 30, 2008

According to the NYT article, I'm a "sophisticated Internet aficionado."

Man, that is so cool.
posted by merelyglib at 4:02 PM on September 30, 2008

"Real doesn't hate the MPAA, they want to be the MPAA."

No, they want to be able to sell this product legally. And DRM is probably the only way they can manage that.
posted by litlnemo at 4:18 PM on September 30, 2008

In other entertainment tech news from Companies That Don't Fucking Get It, Dell throws down the gauntlet to iTunes, Amazon Unbox, etc., by offering customers a bundled pre-loaded copy of Iron Man with newly purchased computers.
posted by porn in the woods at 4:43 PM on September 30, 2008

I'm going to switch my DVD collection over to glowing memory cubes just as soon as they are invented.
posted by DU at 4:47 PM on September 30, 2008

Win or lose, it's not going to make a big difference. Ripping DVDs is trivial.
Less than a week ago I had a friend asking me way she couldn't just stick a DVD into her computer and have iTunes rip it so that she could watch it on her new ipod, the same as she can do for CDs.

This particular case might make no difference, but the current laws are certainly holding back the average consumer in various ways.
posted by markr at 5:05 PM on September 30, 2008

"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."

Legally, maybe. But while AACS was certainly more complicated, it has been broken repeatedly and despite several key revocations, is entirely defeatable. Like DeCSS, it has the fundamental weakness that once a key is found, it can be spread to others. While they added the ability to revoke keys and generate new ones, they have not (and are unlikely to) found a way to prevent key snooping (especially on computer platforms), and thus it's a cat and mouse game the decrypters will always win.
posted by wildcrdj at 5:14 PM on September 30, 2008

"RealNetworks' RealDVD should be called StealDVD," explained Greg Goeckner, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

Thank God the writer's strike is over, eh?
posted by tommasz at 5:47 PM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Puh-leez! Anydvd FTW.
posted by mattholomew at 6:10 PM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Handbrake is nice, too.
posted by mullingitover at 6:44 PM on September 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

Real Networks is the John McCain of Internet-related software. Think about it. It works on many levels.
posted by VulcanMike at 8:16 PM on September 30, 2008

The problem is, if I want a copy of a mainstream DVD I own to take with me on my laptop, it's just as easy for me to torrent it as it is to try and rip/make a copy of my DVD.
posted by graventy at 10:35 PM on September 30, 2008

BoingBoing notes something else as well:
Lawyers for the MPAA, in a teleconference with reporters, said Kaleidesape and RealDVD are circumventing "technology designed to prevent copying."

The lawyers, who asked that their names not be published, said they were concerned "Consumers will think this is a legal product...when in fact it is totally illegal."
These lawyers aren't deep-throat whistle-blowers sneaking information out of their employers' filing cabinets: they're the official spokespeople for the firm. And they get anonymity?
The world will be a better place without both MPAA and Real. May they fight each other into oblivion.
posted by DreamerFi at 11:43 PM on September 30, 2008

It would be great if every mention of the RIAA and MPAA was a link to a page listing their member companies. It's a shame that the member companies don't get to take advantage of the great publicity that their trade organizations are generating for them.
posted by mullingitover at 12:04 AM on October 1, 2008

Crap, I may have helped Real here.

I wrote/signed a declaration in support of motion for summary judgment in the EFF/Bunner v. DVD-CCA case. Later I reaffirmed the declaration for the Kaleidescape case by request of their lawyers. And now that case is being used by Real Networks? I suddenly feel a bit dirty...

(But my small part was basically about the trade secrets part of CSS, so it probably didn't help the Kaleidescape case so much if I understand the details correctly)
posted by rpn at 2:58 AM on October 1, 2008 should adopt the "Fair and Balanced" tagline.

Looks like the story is originally from press release blaster PR Newswire, an organization that apparently exists to overwhelm searches for actual business news with their hired gun crap.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:36 AM on October 1, 2008

Strange I always wondered how Kaleidesape managed to avoid this, I always assumed they had some super-rich white person deal with the MPAA. For those who don't know, Kaleidesape is an amazing system for the well-to-dos home theater. It is fairly complex, but the basic setup is a server somewhere in the house running a large 1TB+ storage array. You put the DVD in the machine and it rips everything, adds the metadata and streams it to all the set top boxes around your house. Not that big of a deal, unless you realize that most people who have a system like this are big time collectors. They aren't your casual NetFlix 3-times a week, but will have literal libraries of thousands of DVDs. Kaleidesape makes it incredibly easy to sort through these films by ratings, director, etc. Think of it as if you had a NetFlix box and it said, "Hey you liked this do you want to watch this?" Only to get around copyright laws they can't do this efficiently by having a few data centers with movies and streaming it over broadband (like Vudu). You have to actually manage and store films yourself. This gets around the technicalities of the laws, but is incredibly expensive. I believe simple Kaleidesape systems start at $10k, so that gives you the idea of the consumer of this. They are not looking to pirate movies, a $15 movie is a drop in the bucket. They just want any movie available at their finger tips, whether it be their vacation home or their yacht or their summer place in Utah, etc. In any case Kaleidesape maintains a strong position on what they're doing being completely legal. I believe them, and it would be stupid of the MPAA to go after these people, their customers control the world ya know. Don't shit on those who don't blink at spending $20k for a movie collection.

In any case if you have any basic understanding of how to setup a home network this is fairly cheap to do. I've documented my own setup on here before but it consists of a rackmount HP DL140 off eBay and a Mac Mini as the head unit (for processing HD movies, plus it looks pretty). The whole thing cost me less than $2k, and it does HD, which Kaleidesape doesn't do. I use Plex, which is very, very nice, but as user friendly as Kaleidesape. That's not really a problem, at least for me, as I don't find it hard to download my movie and then boom, there it is available for me. Plex even adds metadata for posters and IMDB and such. I don't really use that much.

The irony is that I, and everyone I know, would be willing to pay money per mo. to get access to the MPAA's collection. They'd still be making a ton of money charging everyone $60 for all their movies (even if a significant amount of my collection is foreign / hard to get, let's ignore that for now). I pay easily $60/mo. for usenet access, private servers overseas, highspeed internet, etc. Plus I have general Internet access on my Mac Mini. Remember when DFW died? I went to and ran his interviews in full screen to the delight of everyone around.

I don't really know if there's a solution per se, especially considering what they RIAA is doing to iTunes when sales don't match their expectation. For the love of God, team up with Google and digitize all your media, let them deal with the technical side (it really isn't that hard, but google has good experience with a ton of data being delivered). I bet actual operating costs would maybe, maybe be $10-15/mo. per account. If you told them they could have every movie ever made for $100/mo at their fingertips, people would jump on it and they'd be awash with money. Of course you're cutting out the plethora of middle men, but that's good for our economy, more choices + lower costs = good capitalism. What you have now is the equivalent of princes taxing sugar being shipped down the Rhine.
posted by geoff. at 8:57 AM on October 1, 2008 [3 favorites]

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