AV Components
$300 Video Server at Crux of RealNetworks Trial
The company's Facet prototype DVD player, which can store copied DVDs, appears to be a central issue in the copyright case against RealNetworks.
realnetworks facet
RealNetworks’ Facet DVD player/storer. Credit: CNET
April 29, 2009 by Arlen Schweiger

Would you buy a $300 video server? Would you copy your own DVD collection for safekeeping and convenient access on it? Would you occasionally rip that Netflix rental to it, if nobody were the wiser?

Sure; sure; and yeah probably, don’t kid yourself.

If you’ve been following the copyright case against RealNetworks over its RealDVD ripping software, you know that it’s the software that got the company in hot water with the DVD CCA (DVD Copyright Control Association), which filed a suit along with the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and some Hollywood studios against Real—colleague Julie Jacobson has been chronicling some of the proceedings over on CE Pro.

And if you’re a tech-savvy media hound, you’ve known that even before Real introduced RealDVD last year there were already plenty of ways to copy DVDs on to your computer (your own collection, of course). Julie herself grabbed a two-year license on a product called AnyDVD based in Antigua, while others have indulged in Mac the Ripper, DVD Shrink and more.

Ah, but the RealDVD software appears to be just one part of the equation in this intriguing case. CNET reports that Real CEO Rob Glaser in court this week demonstrated the company’s DVD player prototype, called Facet. It not only plays DVDs, but, presumably using RealDVD, can copy and store them onto the machine—making it a de facto video jukebox/server.

If it sounds a bit like fancy Kaleidescape systems that can store copies of DVDs and let you search them by title, cover art, genre, director and more, than you’re onto something. And Kaleidescape itself managed to beat legal hassles when its system was challenged by the DVD CCA.

But Real’s product would be a fraction of Kaleidescape’s cost (of course, we know it would probably be a fraction of its functionality, too, but we’d have to wait and see on that), and even Glaser made the comparison in court, as CNET noted:

“Kaleidescapes are like Porsches. They’re very expensive. We thought we could develop Chevys, a $300 product that could replace a person’s DVD player.”

Likely Real’s technology could end up on everyday DVD players from major manufacturers, thereby converting such devices into storage servers for your collections. And that possibility that you’d borrow movies from friends, relatives and services like Netflix, to rip to such players, which has the suing factions up in arms.

While we love the Kaleidescape systems, we’d jump at a $300 video server. Would you? Heh, we know you’re probably already ripping your video collection onto your home theater PC anyway. We’ll continue to follow this case with keen interest.


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Arlen Schweiger - Contributor, Electronic House Magazine
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com and Electronic House magazine.

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