Kara Swisher

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Rob Glaser Talks About Steal–Oops–RealDVD

When he debuted his company’s new DVD copier at DEMOfall recently, called RealDVD, RealNetworks’ Rob Glaser did a video interview with BoomTown about it.

And now that RealNetworks (RNWK) and Hollywood are cross-suing each other over RealDVD–in the latest clash over the still-contentious copyright issue that separates the tech and entertainment industries–it’s time for a replay!

The RealDVD software allows a user to rip all the parts of a DVD, including cover art, onto a computer. It costs about $30.

Hollywood studios, which filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday, maintain that RealDVD is illegal, and one of their reps called it “StealDVD.”

Haw, haw. This is what apparently passes for clever in Hollywood these days.

But before the entertainment giants’ lawsuit, RealNetworks filed its own suit, claiming it was protecting the fair-use rights of consumers to make copies of content they had purchased.

To avoid violating digital rights management schemes, RealDVD has added its own DRM layer, preventing ripped DVDs from being copied and shared and imposing further barriers to piracy.

But there are still possibilities for illegal ripping, of course, because RealDVD users must promise not to copy videos they don’t own.

No surprise–an honor-system product that makes it even easier to copy DVDs was not exactly welcome by Hollywood, which has been trying to protect its movie revenues from suffering the same fate as the music industry via rampant CD-ripping.

Thus, the typical mainstream media reaction to the inevitability of consumers wanting to digitize content: More lawsuits!

In any case, here’s the video of Glaser talking about RealDVD:

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik