According to the New York Times, digital media company RealNetworks is introducing RealDVD, a $30 software package for Windows PCs that allows users to make legal copies of entire DVDs.
According to a company press release, RealDVD allows users to rip a DVD (Blu-ray is not supported) to a computer’s hard drive without any degradation in quality while preserving all bonus features and on-screen menus. The release states that most DVDs will occupy 4GB–9GB of hard drive space.
The company insists that ripping the DVD is totally legal because, according to gizmodo.com, the software not only preserves all CSS (Content Scrambling System) encryption but adds an extra layer of RealNetwork’s DRM, which prevents a burned copy from being playable on any computer other than the one on which it was made. The burned DVD will thereby be unable to be played on a DVD player. Additionally, ripped versions will be unplayable on iPods and other external devices.
According to the Times, however, additional software licenses can be purchased for $20 a piece that will allow the video files to be played on other computers.
The Times adds that despite RealNetworks’s efforts to hinder the user’s ability to infringe upon copyright laws (by preserving CSS encryption), some studio executives predict staunch resistance to the product, fearing any trend that could possibly create flagrant illegal sharing and downloading of copyright material—as is the case in the music industry.
The Times notes that DVD sales have reached $16 billion annually.