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Judge Opens Hearing On RealDVD Legal Battle 164

FP writes "On Friday morning, lawyers urged a federal judge to bar RealNetworks from selling software that allows consumers to copy their DVDs to computer hard drives, arguing that the Seattle-based company's product is an illegal pirating tool. RealNetworks' lawyers countered later in the morning that its RealDVD product is equipped with piracy protections that limits a DVD owner to making a single copy and is a legitimate way to back up copies of movies legally purchased. This legal battle began with a restraining order last October which stopped the sale of RealDVD. More coverage is available at NPR. The same judge who shut down Napster is presiding over the three-day trial." Reader IonOtter points out that later in the day, Judge Patel sealed the court after DVD Copy Control Association lawyers "argued that public testimony of aspects of the CSS copy-control technology would violate trade secrets."
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Judge Opens Hearing On RealDVD Legal Battle

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  • Useless (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JackieBrown (987087) <> on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:31PM (#27708581)

    I really don't understand why they are still bothering.

    It's a waste of their money and taxpayer's money

    • Re:Useless (Score:4, Insightful)

      by techno-vampire (666512) on Friday April 24, 2009 @11:04PM (#27709763) Homepage
      I really don't understand why they are still bothering.

      Yes, especially when you consider how many FOSS programs there are out there to do exactly that.

    • by lpq (583377) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @11:37PM (#27718657) Homepage Journal

      You really don't get why they bother? If it became legal to move DVD images around -- even if restricted by CSS licenses, $30K jukeboxes that was introduced as new, high-end consumer "tech" and [] discussed, here, on /. [] OVER 4 years ago.

      If the content-control mafia doesn't go on the warpath against every possible consumer aid, then consumers might get "convenient" access to the videos they purchase. It has nothing to do with piracy -- since that's done on a massive scale across the world where DVD's are duplicated and sold for a few-bucks -- it has everything with consumer control -- especially control of the lucrative US-consumer market. If they don't keep up the legal pressure to block all technical progress, you'd start seeing low-end, non-Windows (or non-Vista) based jukeboxes selling at Walmart for $200. The content industry didn't invest millions in getting Vista to have all their layers of protection and licensing only to let stupid consumers get devices that actually allow them to DO things with their purchased videos. The only way the content-mafia can continue to make higher and higher profits off of fewer and fewer hits, is by changing the way they do business -- instead of selling DVD's, they really would prefer to sell pay-per-view-per-viewer. That would be their "ideal", though to get there, they have to move very slowly and indirectly. If they bring the consumers to a boil too quickly then the consumers get upset and balk (DIVX), or complain to congress-critters who occasionally threaten to do things [] when these content-kings try step up their charges for content viewing too quickly [].

      Just like Kaleidescape got nailed because they were a bunch of engineers and not part of the 'content-mafia', and thought consumers (even though they'd pay dearly for the cutting edge) might enjoy increased convenience. It's very likely, that Real Networks, being a competitor of Microsoft, hasn't been given the green light to develop a sufficiently onerous DRM (their RealDVD product probably isn't restricted to Vista) that's tied in with the OS, and designed to work with content-controlled hardware on the user's PC (the TPM chip being installed in every consumer computer that will be able to hold appropriately blessed, time limited, or location limited, or view-limited licenses that can be easily 'lost', or remotely deactivated over the network connection that's required for these devices to 'verify' your 'license' every time you view content.

      Of course knowing what you are watching, where and how many times you watch an old DVD will given them useful marketing and taste information about the consumers who will be monitored.

      Allowing a 'rogue' program that just lets consumers 'view' their own video (DVD/BluRay) without all the content-restriction and obfuscation software might allow a user to view a video through a unlicensed or non-approved video playback device. Recently I needed to replace a simple DVD player in my bedroom -- only needed an inexpensive playback device, but the device, of course has up-sampling and high-end digital-output for digital screens (LCD/plasma, virtually all modern viewers) that is only available through the HDMI connector. The instruction book tells you that unless your HDMI monitor is also HDCP-secure, that 'snow' or 'noise' in the output picture is "normal".

      If the content-mafia allowed even the smallest bit of 'freedom' in video viewing, it could undo all their plans to shift to a completely controlled digital experience.

      Nightmare scenario for them. Customer could buy their video *once*, DVD/BluRay, then load it on their home media center. But that same media center could show the vid

  • Sounds familiar. (Score:2, Informative)

    by madsci1016 (1111233)
    Sounds like a repeat of DVDXCopy. That tool only let you make one copy i believe; and it lost the legal battle.
    • by Frosty Piss (770223) on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:53PM (#27709063)

      That tool only let you make one copy i believe; and it lost the legal battle.

      Yes, but the DVDXCopy folks didn't have deep-pockets RealNetworks paying their legal bills. Real may be harder to take down.

    • If they lose, I hope it shows normal people how wrong the law is and that it should be changed.

      • If they lose, I hope someone launches a class-action lawsuit against every store that claims to sell films on DVDs, as opposed to provide (very) limited licenses to them. I've bought a lot of DVDs, and I don't remember ever signing a contract which said that I waived my right to make a backup copy before I bought any of them.
        • The essential problem is, it's entirely legal to make such a backup copy.

          It is, however, illegal to reverse engineer and crack the DRM measures that would prevent you from making such a copy.

          Grpuavpnyyl fcrnxvat, vg'f vyyrtny sbe lbh gb ernq guvf grkg, vs V vagraqrq guvf EBG13 "rapelcgvba" gb cerirag lbh sebz cvengvat vg.

  • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:34PM (#27708607) Homepage
    I can count how many times I've rooted for Real on a one-bit integer. Yesterday, I didn't even need that.
    • by wowbagger (69688) on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:59PM (#27708747) Homepage Journal

      "I can count how many times I've rooted for Real on a one-bit integer. "

      Signed, or unsigned?

      • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Friday April 24, 2009 @09:19PM (#27709207) Homepage
        I guess I should have known better to say that here. A one-bit unsigned, 2's complement integer as represented in Big Endian bit order.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Azh Nazg (826118)
          Except that twos complement is meaningless with unsigned integers, and big endian and little endian are exactly the same. ;)
          • by gandhi_2 (1108023)
          • It depends on whether you are talking about byte order or bit order. Bit order is opaque on most modern architectures for most cases, but there were quite a few older ones with bit manipulation instructions where it was relevant (and some had really weird bit ordering). Two's complement is not entirely irrelevant either, since it defines the overflow behaviour. With a two's complement unsigned integer, you known that 0 - 1 + 1 = 0. Otherwise, it is undefined.

            Now, who wants to be even more pedantic?

        • My mother was a one-bit unsigned integer, you insensitive clod!

          Un-signed: Mr. Roboto

  • by stox (131684) on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:34PM (#27708609) Homepage

    It is not a trade secret anymore.

    • by dgatwood (11270) on Friday April 24, 2009 @09:22PM (#27709229) Homepage Journal

      I'm glad you pointed that out. This decision is legally indefensible and utterly inexcusable. One of the key requirements for something being a trade secret is that it must, in fact, still be a secret. Once knowledge enters into public knowledge through reverse engineering, it is no longer secret, and is no longer legally eligible for trade secret protection.

      The disturbing thing is that this is a critical case as far as defining the boundaries for the DMCA and reverse engineering, fair use rights, etc., but because those devious lawyers from the DVD CCA got their way, a significant portion of this important case will be stricken from the public record. This is, of course, what they want. This has nothing to do with protecting any trade secrets and everything to do with hiding their smoke and mirrors from licensees in the hope that they'll keep buying the snake oil^W^WDRM.

      Unfortunately, sealing a case like this also does a very serious disservice to the public in this case, and I hope that the EFF and other organizations are taking steps to get this case unsealed again. It is the American people's right to know what is going on behind closed doors in cases dealing with our fundamental fair use rights.

  • Betamax Redux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:34PM (#27708611) Homepage

    Had the VCR been invented in a copyright climate like today's, would it ever have survived the legal attack [] against it?

    I'm trying to figure out what's different, other than the fact we now have the DMCA.

    • Re:Betamax Redux (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:53PM (#27708719)

      Had the VCR been invented in a copyright climate like today's, would it ever have survived the legal attack [] against it?

      I'm trying to figure out what's different, other than the fact we now have the DMCA.

      The same could be said of the automobile, the airplane, and the internet. Imagine carriage, railroad, and telephone industries with today's level of lobbying and corruption opposing these industry-wrecking technologies.

      • Re:Betamax Redux (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:58PM (#27709083)

        The same could be said of the automobile, the airplane, and the internet. Imagine carriage, railroad, and telephone industries with today's level of lobbying and corruption opposing these industry-wrecking technologies.

        Let's not forget that book publishers (whom we all revere, right?) long ago lobbied against the idea of public libraries because "pirates" would read their wares without paying for them. Even Ben Franklin, deemed the father of the American public library system, established a "subscription library" where you had to pay something to play.

        Then there's the famous Jack "The Asshole" Valenti, who, when the idea of movies on TV was first proposed, shrieked, "But ... but ... but what if a television set owner invites a neighbor over to view the movie for free !?!?!?!"

        • The difference is that book publishers actually learned from their mistake.
          • Baen did. The Pragmatic Programmers did.

            Most of them still attempt to sell DRM-locked formats, like the Kindle or various PDF / MSreader abominations. PDF by itself is a fine format, but PDF + DRM is just annoying.

        • Jack "The Asshole" Valenti

          Wow, the mafia can think of names for *everybody*.

      • Re:Betamax Redux (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Gonarat (177568) * on Saturday April 25, 2009 @12:42AM (#27710209)

        But for the wisdom of a few Supremes back in the 1980's, the VCR could have been made illegal. Fortunately, fair use prevailed that time.

        This is so stupid, it is time for the Entertainment Industry to grow up and accept that people want equipment like this. Make Real's implementation illegal, and the "illegal" versions will get that much more popular. They already are easier to use and have more (and better) functionality. The MPAA (and RIAA) want total control, but end up losing more control every time they win one of these cases.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by OnlyHalfEvil (1112299)

      The other day I was thinking the same thing about radio. "They can listen to our songs for free!?!"
      Of course the way the RIAA is talking now, radio isn't getting a pass for much longer.

      • While the RIAA member corporations still keep trying new ways around the payola laws...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pcolaman (1208838)
        Research how radio works. Unless you are talking about someone broadcasting on their own, any radio station that wants to broadcast music has to pay royalties to the owner of the songs (Generally paid through a PRO or Performance Rights Organization such as BMI). Many factors are taken into account when they determine how much is paid, but yeah, this establishment has been around for a while and makes the RIAA member companies a good chunk of change.
        • by kdemetter (965669)

          Funny , isn't it , that radios have to pay artists , to advertise their songs.

          Image all radio stations no longer played any copyrighted music. Who would know a certain song existed , if they never heard it play ?

          Radio stations play a big role in making people addicted enough to a certain song , to actually buy it.

    • by Jerry (6400) on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:02PM (#27708765)

      Nothing is different. The corporations own the courts which enforce the laws they bribed Congress to get passed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Had the VCR been invented in a copyright climate like today's, would it ever have survived the legal attack against it? I'm trying to figure out what's different, other than the fact we now have the DMCA.

      The VCR didn't have any copy protection built in, so there would be no "circumvention" to trip the DMCA. Of course, if they were inventing the VCR today they'd include copy protection, so the answer becomes no, no recording technology would survive.

      It's unfortunate that no defendant has the balls/money

      • by Rycross (836649)

        You're forgetting about Macrovision. They had a copy protection system for VHS that messed with the automatic gain control, so that if you tried to copy between two VCRs the picture would fluctuate and make the copy unwatchable.

        • by hedwards (940851)

          That wasn't added for quite a while. I remember duplicating VHS tapes that way during the 80s, I don't recall ever having had problems with the quality beyond the natural degradation of the technology. And even that was pretty minor, just a little bit of fuzz, certainly less than on most channels at that time.

    • I'm trying to figure out what's different, other than the fact we now have the DMCA.

      In the 80s, the media distribution industry was thriving.

      In the meantime, they missed the opportunity to use the Internet as a distribution medium, and they're still trying to get us to go to shops and buy packaged disks of transparent plastic.

      They're a dying industry, trying to survive by any means.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:40PM (#27708633)

    Yeah, it would really be terrible if de-CSS code were included in court filings [], now, wouldn't it? I just have to wonder: doesn't a trade secret have to be secret? Or are they hiding something else these days?

    • by jonwil (467024)

      It may be that they want to disclose things related to CSS that are not in the existing public information.

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:46PM (#27708673) Journal
    I honestly don't understand. What do they hope to gain by stopping Real?

    CSS is broken, in the face, with extreme prejudice. Game over, no victory possible. Free ripping tools are everywhere, if you know(or have that geek guy who knows) where to look. Pirate rips are similarly common. Real's software, by contrast, is insanely restrictive. It is probably harder to pirate a rip made with it than it is to just re-rip the DVD with something civilized. Why would they attack it?

    No actual pirate would use it, so taking it off the market is wholly irrelevant to that. Further, by virtue of existing, being under the brand of a company with significant brand awareness, pagerank, etc. it is likely to be the first thing a n00b who wants to put some DVDs on his laptop is going to find. In that respect, it likely serves as a damper to further piracy. If the first thing that comes up when you google "transfer DVD computer" is Real's easy to use, legitimate(to the n00b) looking, and highly restrictive program, the unskilled will probably stop there. This will keep them, in at least some cases, from digging further and coming up with proper techniques.

    So that is why I don't understand. This software is of zero use to pirates, who already have better, and might well actually stop n00bs from becoming pirates, by virtue of being easier and almost good enough. Is this just stupidity? A matter of principle? A concern over precedent? Are they trying to maintain the illusion among the public that DVDs cannot be ripped?
    • by grenthar (1488647)

      I honestly don't understand. What do they hope to gain by stopping Real?

      They get to take more money from suckers who don't know better. Sure anyone here knows there is ripping software on the interwebs, but Joe Blow doesn't. If it was sold on shelves then Joe might figure it out.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AnotherBlackHat (265897) on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:17PM (#27708843) Homepage

      No actual pirate would use it...

      Maybe what they want is to stop people from being able to play their DVDs without restrictions.
      In other words, it's about controlling what you watch, and how you watch it.

      • by jhol13 (1087781)

        You mean they try to make Cable Ready HD[1], Bly-Ray, HDCP, etc. look almost bearable (compared to the ease of DVD)?

        [1] In Finland this means that the TV can decipher HD content. The smart card is "paired" with the TV's serial number so you cannot look the content in another TV set (with the card).

      • by toriver (11308)

        Yeah, I used MacTheRipper to make region-free copies of my region 1 DVDs, since at a point I did not use a region-free player. Now that I do have one I have stopped ripping them.

        (I have also stopped buying them, but that is just because I have a stack of 200 DVDs that have accumulated as I have been too busy with World of Warcraft. Now that is a culprit if the industry is looking for a reason for lower sales.)

      • In other words, it's about controlling what you watch, and how you watch it.

        In which case, they should be applauding Real's effort. Unlike, say, AnyDVD, Real is actually re-DRM-ing the rip, thus taking back that control.

        They should be looking to partner with Real, not sue them.

        Of course, in a saner world, they should just give up...

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by davester666 (731373) on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:21PM (#27708873) Journal

      Right now, most 'regular' people [that is, people who have never heard of slashdot], still believe DVD's are one-shot deals. If they are lost, scratched, broken, whatever, they believe their only remedy is to purchase another disc. They believe that the only legitimate way to view a DVD is to have the physical disk available and inserted into a hardware device that will read it and output the contents on a display. That if the display they want to view a movie they have on DVD can't be connected to a DVD player, they need to purchase another copy of the movie, in a format that is locked to a small range of devices that includes the desired display.

      This makes the big media companies lots of profit through repurchase of DVD's (due to loss or damage) and people repurchasing the same movie in new formats (vhs&dvd, now dvd&blu-ray&a whole variety of DRM'ed formats over the internet, UMD, etc).

      If Real wins, then they get to advertise widely that consumers don't have to keep repurchasing the same movie over and over again, just because Sally happened to scratch the DVD, or because you want to watch the movie during a airline flight on your iPhone.

      And consumers will expect to be able to do the same thing with their new, more expensive BluRay discs as well.

      Right now, most consumers aren't asking "why can't we do all these things with the discs we purchased".
      If Real can crack the dam, the big media companies know that it won't be too long before consumers do, because it will become plain to consumers that they have the right to do these things, but that the big media companies are contractually preventing them from being able to exercise that right (the contracts being between the format/movie licensing company's owned by the big media companies and the format-playing hardware and software companies licensing the formats/movies.

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by vic-traill (1038742) on Friday April 24, 2009 @09:44PM (#27709339)

        They believe that the only legitimate way to view a DVD is to have the physical disk available and inserted into a hardware device that will read it and output the contents on a display.

        I think you're still right here, but only just - the tipping point is not that far out. I'm surprised by how many Just Plain Folks ask me, or people around me, about watching television on-line, or about 'DVD' players that will let them play 'computer movies' (e.g. avi's), and other questions about getting/watching movies outside the mainstream 'Buy it at Blockbuster' approach.

        An individual - who has heretofore, to the best of my knowledge, just used her home desktop for surfing, webmail, and playing some mp3's- asked me this week how she could use her big-ass LCD TV as a computer monitor. When I asked why she thought they wanted to do that, she said that she'd been watching movies on her computer, but wanted to be able to sit on the couch w/ her husband/boyfriend and watch it from there instead of sitting in front of her 19" LCD monitor.

        This next part, I *swear* is the truth ... absolutely no BS or writer's embellishment. My mother - in her 70's, friends - has been given a few burned DVD's with avi's on them (it started with An Inconvenient Truth). I'm guessing that someone's grandson or granddaughter is hooking someone up, and now mine has got me burning Oprah stuff for her friends without broadband. I tell you that once my Mom and her cronies start trading media outside the Hollywood model, it's *got* to be the beginning of the end.

        I suppose that some actuary has figured out that it is still worthwhile to litigate against DVD copying, but I think it is a fast-shrinking piece of the pie. Or the denial just runs way too deep.

    • WHY? because it is apparently against the law. If you don't like it, then maybe the law should be changed.

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851) on Friday April 24, 2009 @11:02PM (#27709753)

        No, the law's just fine it just needs to be properly interpreted. DVDs do not contain copyprotection, end of story. CSS does not in any way shape or form deter people from copying.

        What DVDs do contain is technology that prevents them from being run on devices that are not authorized to do so. That is _not_ copy protection unless the authorization is on a per device basis.

        Removing CSS is not a violation of law anyways, because it isn't effective and one has the right to circumvent copyprotection under the DMCA.

    • by countach (534280)

      I think the issue is, if Real wins, Apple will put DVD ripping into iTunes and that could greatly expand the amount of ripping going on, from just geeks to mainstream. Then sharing will increase, not just over P2P, but casually between friends.

    • by asparagus (29121)

      They don't want to allow a precedent. Compare:

      A) You go to the store, you buy a cd, you come home, you put it into your computer, click import in iTunes, you listen to it on your iPod. Legal.
      B) You go to the store, you buy a dvd, you come home, you put it into your computer, click import in iTunes, you watch it on your Apple TV. Illegal.

      Should Real win this case the next day there will be a hundred companies looking to license the technology. That scares a number of people.

    • by Patch86 (1465427)

      I honestly don't understand. What do they hope to gain by stopping Real?

      A large out-of-court settlement?

  • iTunes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by patternmatch (951637) on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:53PM (#27708721)
    If RealDVD is a piracy tool, then so is iTunes (or anything else that allows you to rip CDs).
    • Re:iTunes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by corsec67 (627446) on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:58PM (#27708737) Homepage Journal

      CDs aren't encrypted, which changes the legal meaning significantly.

      It doesn't matter if that encryption is pathetic, it just matters that it exists.

      • by msimm (580077)
        Their probably worried that this might signify the mainstreaming of DVD (media) ripping. Which, if it was to be considered common place, could wreck all sorts of havoc on their game-plan as people began to take interest in their right to media they (presumably) own.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)

        The DMCA doesn't specify encryption, it specifies 'effective copy protection'. Contrary to popular belief, CDs do have copy protection. Every CD has two flags. One indicates that it is a copyrighted work, the other indicates that it is a copy. A conforming implementation may only make digital[1] copies of works which are either not copyrighted or are copyrighted by are not themselves copies (to allow you to make mix-CDs, but not copies of them), and must set the copy flag on any copy they make. It is f

      • CDs aren't encrypted

        Sure they are! Ever heard of ROT-26?

  • Pay? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:01PM (#27708761)

    Do they really think people who pirate DVDs are going to pay for ripping software? I am guessing most people who would buy this software would not be that savvy and only use it to back up the Dora the Explorer DVDs that their kids somehow keep breaking. I'm pretty sure these aren't the people they should be focusing on. With a teeny bit of research on the internet you can find lots of free rippers with none of the restrictions this Real one has.

  • by InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:10PM (#27708799)

    Judge Patel sealed the court after DVD Copy Control Association lawyers "argued that public testimony of aspects of the CSS copy-control technology would violate trade secrets."

    They almost let the cat out of the bag! []

  • Not a piracy tool? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Step 1 rent DVD. Step 2 save movie to hard drive. There is nothing to restrict you to movies you own. If you have an unlimited Blockbuster or Netflicks account you could "back up" dozens of movies a month for less than a $1 a piece. The potential is a massive loss to the filmmakers, not all filmmakers are big studios. I'm an independent filmmaker and I have a last film coming out this Fall. Due to the current climate I've decided to retire rather than make more films. I have 20 or 30 good years left in me b

    • Actually, the potential loss is to the rental industry. There is no profit sharing system between blockbuster and hollywood. Rental places buy copies of the movie, rent them till they reach a certain usage level, and then sell them as previously viewed.

      Technically, you could rip every movie in blockbuster and not have any effect on hollywood what so ever.

      In the long run you'll put the rental industry on the ropes, but then, it already is. Netflix, on demand and web based services like HULU have
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by /dev/trash (182850)

      Retiring means you have enough money already. Sorry I have no pity.

    • by zippthorne (748122) on Friday April 24, 2009 @10:57PM (#27709733) Journal

      If you really did have an unlimited blockbuster or netflix account, you'd have long since realized that even at $1 apiece, it's just not worth it to "back up" your rentals.

      $17 per month, (which fluctuates, but the deal keeps getting better so far), you can watch 3 films at a time, and reasonably expect to get 3 per week. If you're super diligent, you could watch more, but let's just go with about 14 films per month for the sake of argument.

      Are you really going to watch all 14 multiple times?

      Further, keep in mind that your media costs would be almost as much as your monthly netflix cost. Every month of "backups" could be spent instead on nearly an additional month of netflix service. And it would be more than an month when you factor in opportunity cost over the long-term.

      An additional month where you could re-watch any of the films you've already watched, or any of the films offered that you haven't yet watched. Or the same films, but in a more advanced format than you had the first time around.

      • "Further, keep in mind that your media costs would be almost as much as your monthly netflix cost."

        Micro Center. WinData DVD-R/DVD+R.

        Spindle of 50 4.7GB blank DVDs, US$9.95. Box of 50 Slimline Jewel Cases, US$9.95.

        50 divided by 14 = 3.57.

        So, for that US$20.00 spent on DVDs and storage, you get 3 and a half months of Netflix DVDs ripped.

        More if you use Handbrake to rip just the movie to something like 800-900MB avi files.

        But you didn't hear this from me, understand?

        • You can get a 1 TB drive for about 80 bucks (, so it is even cheaper these days.

          • Indeed! The last hard drive I bought was earlier this year.

            Approx. US$50.00 for 160GB. Next month, I'm buying a 1TB drive and enclosure and using it as the Time Machine drive on the Mac. I'll also be replacing the 2 sub-100GB drives with 160GB drives.

            So, 640GB in the Mac, a Terabyte as the Time Machine drive, with a few hundred GB left on the Time Machine drive should give me enough space for data until I can get more TB drives and set up a bigass Time Machine box or a RAID of some kind.

            By the way, my very

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)
        I don't really understand the motivation for 'backing up' rented DVDs. How many of them are you ever likely to watch again? I pay a rental subscription for access to new films (well, new to me - ones I haven't seen before, not necessarily ones that were released recently). Watching a film again is something I only do when the film is exceptional, or I have no new things to watch and not enough spare brain power to do something more productive.
        • It's interesting point. At first I was sort of peeved that I couldn't purchase movies on Xbox Live. That I had to pay every time to watch them... but then it occured to me. I've NEVER watched a movie I rented on Xbox live again. Ever. The number of movies which I do find myself wanting to watch again are so few that multiple rentals would still make financial sense instead of 'gambling' that I would watch every DVD inmy collection more than once.

          I have a pile of HD-DVDs. Just because they were pretty mu

          • The movie industry HAS TO OFFER AN AFFORDABLE ON DEMAND SYSTEM. Then they get to control the content and prevent saving it to the hard drive.

            They don't need to control saving, that's rather my point. Saving only makes sense from a pack-rat mentality. The value of a movie drops dramatically each time you watch it. If you offer a fixed number of downloads per month with no DRM, people will still pay because they want access to new material. This is exactly how cable and satellite TV works. They do not include DRM - you can record anything that's broadcast easily - but people still subscribe to them because they keep offering new material. Th

            • by yuna49 (905461)

              This is exactly how cable and satellite TV works. They do not include DRM...

              Well, most all programming that isn't broadcast over-the-air by television stations is encrypted. So, for instance, I can't record ESPN directly off my FiOS connection with a PC tuner card, though I can record VHF and UHF broadcasts. I can record ESPN on my DVR, but then I have to live with the extremely small disk storage I'm permitted (160 GB). It may not be "DRM," but it certainly restricts what you can record.

              Encryption has b

    • If you have an unlimited Blockbuster or Netflicks account you could "back up" dozens of movies a month for less than a $1 a piece. The potential is a massive loss to the filmmakers,

      What, that I might now have even more of an incentive to keep that Blockbuster or Netflix account?

      And, pray tell, how did video stores ever survive before the invention of DVDs? It certainly wasn't difficult to copy a VHS tape. Then again, maybe you bought Jack Valenti's "Jack the Ripper" line.

      It's already very hard to lock down distribution as an indy.

      Dude. You have BitTorrent. You have YouTube. Distribution is easier now than it ever was. A single person with a little tech savvy can distribute to as many users as he can find.

      Copyright laws should be stronger for the artists and weaker for the corporations.

      They should also be stronger for the co

  • I think the lawyers are the only ones making out on this whole mess. You might as well take away cameras, any kind of audio recording device (answering machines, voice mail included), don't allow artists to paint. The list goes on....
  • Backup? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by skine (1524819)
    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it is the legal right of an individual to create a single (i.e. at most one) backup copy of a DVD once purchased. If not, then I'm going to be in shit for using handbrake to save my own movies to my own hard drive, with no intention of sharing a single one of them.
    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      As far as copyright goes, you are correct. It is legal to copy a DVD.

      What is NOT legal is to circumvent the copy protection on said DVD, thanks to the DMCA. It's a catch-22. You have the legal right to copy it for a personal backup (no distribution), but in order to make that copy you have to break the law.


    • You are wrong (assuming you're referring to US law). A "right to make archival copies" does exist, but it applies only to computer software, not to digital media. (Source [])

  • by TropicalCoder (898500) on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:40PM (#27708987) Homepage Journal
    This may be good. By now, this judge should realize he made a big mistake in the Napster case. When "Statutory Damages in Copyright Law: A Remedy in Need of Reform" by Pamela Samuelson and Tara Wheatland came out, the Napster case was featured as one of the examples of how justice has gone wrong. Courts have strayed far from the intentions of Congress who wrote the laws governing compensation to copyright holders who's IP have been infringed. There is, for example, absolutely no basis in the law for the practise of awarding huge settlements for the purpose of "setting an example to deter other potential infringers". Congress intended for statutory damages to be mainly compensatory in nature and its wishes have not been respected in the case law. "The application of statutory damages has too often strayed from the compensatory impulse underlying statutory damages ... and has focused too heavily on deterrence and punishment, especially given that too many ordinary infringements are treated as willful infringements" concludes the authors of this paper. I first freely accessed this paper via a temporary link on Recording Industry vs People []. Unfortunately, that link has been replaced by a link to where you can buy the paper, but is it no longer available for free, so I will not supply that link.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:56PM (#27709071)

      I doubt he even knows it exists. It's even more doubtful that he has any misgivings about his ruling in the Napster case other than telling his golf buddies recently, "Fuck it, I shoulda added 'Throw dirty little pirate punk in overseas prison for terrorists if we ever build one!" to the sentence."

      Just because we have an orgasm about every obscure paper published that attacks current copyright law, it doesn't mean anybody else ever notices those papers. Even if they did notice, they couldn't care less about them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TropicalCoder (898500)

        This paper wasn't that obscure. "Among other things, the paper concludes that the State Farm/Gore due process test is applicable to statutory damage awards under the Copyright Act, a position which is consistent with the position taken in the amicus curiae brief filed by the Free Software Foundation in SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, and inconsistent with the positions taken by the Department of Justice in Tenenbaum and in SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Cloud"

        However, I believe I may be in error

        • by gknoy (899301)

          It's obscure enough that most of us have never heard of it. Many of us have memory neurons twitch at "Napster vs ..." and the like, but it could very easily be that the judge has never heard of the paper.

          (You could consider filing an amicus curiae sharing the paper and why it's important, though.. not that I think it would help.)

  • DVDs are obsolete (Score:5, Interesting)

    by linebackn (131821) on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:40PM (#27708991)

    Recently I was looking at purchasing DVDs of a long-running TV series. I realized that the DVDs with all of their cases would take up a HUGE amount of space! I always watch DVDs via my computer, I don't even own a regular DVD player. Then I realized I actually DON'T WANT physical DVDs! I have enough storage space I could put this huge pile of DVDs on a single hard drive - without even compressing them further.

    * All I want is a file I can double click on, sit back, and watch. *

    Where can I pay for a licensed download of this kind of stuff? Oh, pretty much nowhere? And, no to work for me it can't be DRMed and must be in a relatively standard codec.

    Now, if I could buy a plain DVD with such a file that I could drag-and-drop to my hard drive, and then dispose of the DVD or toss the plain DVD on to a spool somewhere that would be fine too. That might save me from tying up my internet connection for a while. I don't want to have to search through a pile of DVDs to find the one I want.

    Technically it is possible to copy DVDs to a hard drive but as everyone here knows that is forbidden by a truckload of laws!!! W... T... F...?!!!!! Not to mention most DVDs are encrypted and many DVDs are damaged in creative ways to try to prevent people from copying them.

    If they are so freaking afraid of piracy, they should drop the price enough and make it so it was actually more convenient and desirable to purchase a DVD, then the MPAA could just sit back and watch the torrents dry up!

    Oh, and should I mention how painful dealing with most regular DVDs are? Put in the DVD and be forced to watch a dozen commercials for crap? Every time I buy a DVD I feel like I am begin fucked up the ass by Micky Mouse!

    So why do I even want a physical MPAA-pressed DVD again? Just sell me what I want dammit!

    • by amiga3D (567632)
      There are maybe 3 or 4 movies a year that I find worth watching. Over 90 percent of what comes out of Hollywood isn't even worth the bandwidth necessary to pirate it from a torrent, much less pay 20 bucks for a DVD.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by biobogonics (513416)

      For me, the point is moot. I'm barely interested in watching TV as it is. By the time this issue is settled, there will not be any content on TV worth watching, let alone recording.

      I don't own any DVDs. I have not bought a music CD in at least 8 years.


    • Not to mention most DVDs are encrypted and many DVDs are damaged in creative ways to try to prevent people from copying them.

      Never had a problem with DVD Decrypter [] (you can download [] from FileHippo). Just take care to turn off 'check for program update' in the settings on DVD Decrypter (MacroVision owns the original domains now so there won't be any more updates anyway). Also, check out Handbrake [] for your format conversion and shrinking needs. You may also find the guides over on Doom9 [] to be useful. Good luck and cheers mate.

    • Now, if I could buy a plain DVD with such a file that I could drag-and-drop to my hard drive, and then dispose of the DVD or toss the plain DVD on to a spool somewhere that would be fine too.

      On OS X: Open up Disk Utility. Click the DVD drive. Then select File -> New -> Disk Image (this may have changed, been awhile since I used a Mac).

      On Linux: cp /dev/dvd movie.img

      If the above fails, or if you're on Windows: Drag and drop all files off the DVD onto a folder in your hard drive.

      VLC and mplayer can both be used to play either a raw image, or a VIDEO_TS folder. The biggest problem you might have are discs that add other "copy protection" in the form of unreadable sectors, designed to prevent

  • OSS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Friday April 24, 2009 @10:10PM (#27709505) Homepage

    Are there any good open-source progs with the same functionality as RealDVD? Let's spread that around and watch the MPAA try to play whack-a-mole.

  • First Sale (Score:4, Funny)

    by Amazing Quantum Man (458715) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @12:30AM (#27710153) Homepage

    I'd love to see Real point out the First Sale. The customer bought it, they can fold, spindle or mutilate it.

    If the studios claim it's licensed, point out the ads that say "Buy it today!" or "Own it today!"

  • its RealDVD product is equipped with piracy protections

    So I can buy one of those, and just paste it to the bulk off my ship while I sail through the Strait of Hormuz?

    Maybe the Somali pirates should sue the RIAA for abusing their trademark?

  • People should protest outside the courthouse. It's time to go through the 42 ways [] to distribute DECSS again. What about a tie [] with the code on it?
  • I bought a copy on the first day and after the restraining order, it didn't work any more. It seems it calls home before operating so it will not function on a machine attached to the Internet. For me that means I can't use it because my machine is always connected. It is a shame because I have always thought that shifting the content to my computer for my own use was a very useful thing. I am a little unhappy that I paid the money and I can't use the software.

To see a need and wait to be asked, is to already refuse.