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Hot on the heels of the Pirate Bay trial, which just recently ended (not without considerable controversy), another trial is just now getting started. This one, however, involves RealNetworks and its RealDVD ripping program, a $30 piece of software that has drawn the ire of the Movie Picture Association of America (MPAA).
At the heart of the issue is RealDVD's ability to make digital copies of DVDs to a user's hard drive while still retaining the DVD-copy protection. The process even adds a further layer of DRM to the files it rips, so as far as RealNetworks is concerned, the program doesn't run afoul of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Naturally, the MPAA vehemently disagrees, even going so far as to say the software should be called StealDVD instead of RealDVD. Even more troubling for the MPAA is the RealNetworks' plan to develop DVD-saving software for manufacturers of DVD players. Facet, as it's being called, would allow Toshiba, Sony, and other companies to sell players capable of copying DVDs and save them internally. A prototype capable of storing about 70 movies has already been made, and it's expected that similar devices would sell for around $300 or less.
"The movie industry wants people to buy DVDs an so do we," said Bill Way, VP and general counsel of RealNetworks. "They have a real problem with piracy, and we are not that problem. I don't think our product will make the problem one iota bigger. I think it gives people an opportunity to make digital copies of their movies in a legal way."
Right or wrong, it will now be up to the courts to decide.