Why The RealDVD Trial Might Actually Matter

Yes, OK, we called the software lame and poked fun when it earned that inevitable injunction, but that was just too predictable to get all earnest about. Well, RealNetworks might've been playing a long game.

If you don't recall, RealDVD was a late, unusual addition to the DVD copying field. By late, I mean the latter half of 2008, and by strange, I mean not free. Surprise! The MPAA is outraged, and the product is pulled from shelves literally days after launch. Now the controversy is making its way to a federal court, where Real attorneys will square off against whatever reptilian law-creatures the movie industry is employing these days, and the fate of RealDVD will be decided.

But the NYT thinks they've uncovered RealNetworks', ehh, Real™ intentions: to build ripping capabilities into mainstream DVD players. It's all part of a project called Facet that actually predate RealDVD, at least internally, by some time. Real wants to license this software on the cheap to major DVD player manufacturers, who could then produce reasonably priced (sub-$300) DVD-saving players.

Fun, right? Well, the underlying technology is pretty much RealDVD on Linux, so it—and pretty much any other integrated DVD player backup solutions—is depending on courtroom victory this week. If this is really their strategy, then RealDVD was might have never even a serious product—just a sad, legal, sacrificial lamb. [NYT]