RealDVDs, surreal lawsuits

Well, that didn't take long. One day after RealNetworks releases its DVD copying software, lawsuits are filed. Who's right, who's wrong, and where do movie fans fit in? Cringely has some thoughts.

The movie studios claim Real's software violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act because it circumvents copy protection technology built into DVDs. Actually, Real Networks licensed the software that lets them legally de-crypt and re-encrypt DVD content. If they're guilty of violating the DMCA, so are the manufacturers of every US$50 DVD player out there.

Essentially, Real's software allows you to take a DVD you own and make a legal copy of it on up to five machines. Unless you've got the hacking skills of a Jon lech Johansen, you can't share these copies with anybody else without handing them the drive you copied the movie to. And if you really wanted to swap movies illegally, there are, oh, about a gajillion easier ways to do it than by abusing RealDVD.

The MPAA's other argument: Customers will "rent, rip, and return" DVDs from Blockbuster or Netflix. So instead of spending $10 to $20 for the movie at Wal-Mart, you drop $5 at Blockbuster and make copies you can watch on your computer. Real admits that's possible (and illegal under the terms of its license). But doesn't that sound like an awful lot of trouble? If I really want to watch a movie over and over and over, I'll just keep putting it back in my Netflix queue (or simply not return it after I get it the first time). The people who still go to Blockbuster are probably the least likely to have heard of RealDVD, let alone use it.

You can argue legalities all day long (and, if you're a copyright attorney, make hundreds of dollars an hour doing it). But the fact is that the recording and film industries have been trying to kill off the concepts of fair use and the creative commons for decades. Today's copyright laws are written by industry lobbyists and handed over to friendly members of Congress for a rubber stamp. They do not represent the will of the people.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert X. Cringely

InfoWorld
Topics: notes from the field
Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Compare & Save

Deals powered by WhistleOut
WhistleOut

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?