In the U.S., the movie and video industries continue to search for what they feel to be acceptable ways to let consumers copy and watch DVD content on their computers. But the end result of their efforts are often clumsy and painfully unusable -- and always laden with warnings, restrictions and Digital Rights Management software that is intended to protect the rights of the copyright holders.
The latest product to "hit the shelves" is RealDVD from RealNetworks, the software company responsible for the RealPlayer streaming audio and video player that all but ruled streaming media presentation around the turn of the century. (Incedentally RealPlayer is one of PC Fixer's top ten worst software programs.) RealDVD, a $30 product, lets users copy a DVD to their hard drive while keeping the menus, options, special features -- and the encryption -- intact (commercial DVDs use the CSS encryption standard to prevent copying). But if you have RealDVD, once you put that DVD on your hard drive, you won't be able to burn a back-up or watch your ripped copy on any other machines. It's stuck on your computer, and you're still handcuffed by numerous restrictions.
There are better programs on the market for around the same price. PC Fixer recommends DVDFab5.