RealNetworks announced a software program Monday that for the first time gives consumers a simple and legal way to copy movies and TV shows from DVDs onto their computers.

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SAN FRANCISCO — RealNetworks announced a software program Monday that for the first time gives consumers a simple and legal way to copy movies and TV shows from DVDs onto their computers.

Called RealDVD, the software will target professionals who want to take their video libraries on the road to watch on their laptops. It goes on sale in a month.

Although the Seattle company says its product is for copying movies one owns, nothing stops someone from using it to copy rented DVDs.

For the past decade, copying — also known as ripping — music from CDs to computer hard drives has become a regular habit for millions of people, because the discs include no anti-copying technology to protect copyrighted songs.

The lack of copyright protections has enabled people to transfer songs to their iPods and make compilations of their favorite music, but it also made possible mass piracy of music via the Internet.

Making personal copies of a movie or TV show on a commercial DVD has proved elusive for most consumers, because of encryption software built into the discs.

There are software programs for copying commercial DVDs, but analysts say they are complicated, often break the DVD’s copyright protection and the sites that distribute them are frequently shut down by legal threats.

Kaleidescape, which designs multiroom home-entertainment systems, sells a server allowing users to copy and store DVDs then stream content across a home network.

It was sued by the DVD Copy Control Association, a consortium of movie studios, other content companies and consumer-electronics companies that oversees the DVD copy-protection system.

Kaleidescape won the case in 2007. The DVD association is appealing.

That ruling cleared the way for RealDVD, says Eric Fox, a senior product manager at RealNetworks, which operates the Rhapsody subscription-music service. RealDVD preserves the DVD copyright protections, Fox said, so the movies can’t be sent over the Internet.

“What people get worried about is shipping files,” Fox said. “That won’t work here.”

The DVD association and the Motion Picture Association of America declined to comment. RealNetworks says it has showed the product to executives at seven TV networks and movie studios.

RealDVD, which eventually will be available for a 30-day free trial at RealDVD.com, was to go on sale Monday, but during the weekend the company decided to delay the launch.