When RealNetworks introduced RealDVD in the fall of 2008, I hoped that the movie studios would act sensibly for once and let consumers have a simple tool to make hard-drive copies of their own DVDs. Even though Real went out of its way to squeeze RealDVD through what it felt was a tiny crack in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, I thought it was unlikely to survive a legal assault. But there was always a chance that the MPAA would not unleash the hounds.
Of course, the hounds were set on Real at the earliest opportunity and today the studios won their final, crushing victory: Judge Marilyn Hall Patel issued a permanent injunction against RealDVD’s sale and Real agreed not to sell it or any similar product and to pay the studios’ legal fees.
Most techies never thought much of RealDVD, which never quite made it to market, and didn’t waste much time mourning its demise. And it’s true that there are lot of tools out there that can accomplish what RealDVD did without wrapping the copied movie files in DRM. But RealDVD was a tool that could easily be used by folks who had never heard of HandBrake and didn’t know MPEG-2 from h.263.
Unfortunately, RealDVD was probably doomed from the moment the MPAA decided to go after it, DMCA may be a very bad law, but it’s the law we have and there is very little prospect of it being changed for the better any time soon.