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RealNetwork Brings DVD 'Archiving' to the Masses

In a move that could make content providers cling more tightly to their copyrights, RealNetworks introduced software it calls "the first mainstream PC application" that lets users save DVDs on their hard drives.

Software already exists for ripping DVDs, which have been more difficult than audio CDs for computers to copy, but the RealNetworks offering could provide an ease of use and ubiquity previously unseen.

The company says that unlike other consumer software, RealDVD is licensed and saves a secure copy of a DVD to the hard drive without removing or altering the CSS encryption.

The company touts its legal uses.

"RealDVD gives consumers a great new way to get more out of their DVDs," Chairman and CEO Rob Glaser said.

Like the audio cassette merchants of old, the company says the program "lets consumers create a valuable back-up copy." Great for road trips and improved laptop battery life too, RealNetworks says.

The company says content saved to portable drives can be played on up to five machines licensed to an individual user. Saved DVDs are then encrypted and locked again to make sure they cannot be shared or stolen.

RealNetworks said saving a DVD takes an average of 10 to 40 minutes, and consumes approximately 4-8 GB.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation discusses the legal history of DVD archiving and ripping tools here.