Rent. Rip. Return.
RealNetworks Inc. (RNWK) CEO Rob Glaser calls RealDVD, the company’s new “legal” DVD ripper, “a compelling and very responsible product that gives consumers a way to do something they have always wanted to do.” But really, what it’s giving them is a more cumbersome way of doing something that they’ve already been doing for years now with DVD Decrypter, AnyDVD, Handbrake, MacTheRipper, RipIt and the like.
Like other DVD rippers, the $30 software program easily copies entire DVDs–right down to the menus, bonus features and cover art. But unlike those rippers, RealDVD does so in an ostensibly legal way. It copies them without breaking their digital rights management schemes by installing a second layer of DRM on the ripped files that prevents users from sharing the DVDs online.
What it doesn’t do, though, is prohibit users from ripping DVDs that they rent. Effectively, users are on the honor system. And last I checked, the honor system isn’t a Hollywood-approved DRM scheme.