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Real DVD: Upload Movie Discs On Your Computer

Monday, 8 Sep 2008 | 2:23 PM ET
RealNetworks
RealNetworks

Today, Real Networks is announcing "Real DVD", a software application due out later this month, that allows consumers to upload their DVDs onto their computer hard drive. Real Networks says it's obtained all the necessary DVD playback licenses for customers to legally digitize their DVDs.

With this $50 software (the introductory rate is cheaper) users can upload unlimited DVDs onto one hard drive. This allows someone who's constantly on the go to load up all their favorite DVDs onto their laptop for entertainment on those long flights.

What about copyright issues? Do the movie studios get a chunk of these revenues? Well, no, Real Networks says this has little to do with the studios, the company saying there are no copyright issues. Why not? Well this software doesn't change the encryption on the disc, and it also encrypts the digital file so it can't be shared. (It's similar to CDs where you're allowed to upload your CDs into iTunes on your computer.)

But here's the thing; it's based on trust. Each Real DVD application requires users to certify they bought the DVD. (Which means if you rented a DVD from Blockbusteror Netflix and then try to upload it onto your computer, you'd be very easily breaking the law).

So what does Hollywood think? For years, Hollywood has been counting on digital distribution of their movies and TV shows as a source of future revenue growth, and a key way to offset declining DVD sales. And it seems like this would replace digital distribution; why buy a digital version of a movie you already own if you can just permanently put the contents of your disc onto your computer?

    • Who owns Real Networks

But this isn't a sure thing. For one thing, if you own more than one computer you have to buy an application for each, and then you have to upload the movies onto each hard drive. Then there's the fact that this application is only for viewing on your laptop, not your much more appealing big screen TV. So we'll see if this is really a game changer. And we'll see if the studios raise any concerns before then.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.