At yesterday’s D: All Things Digital conference Real announced a new version of their streaming video player ‘RealPlayer’, which aims to be like ‘TiVo’ for the web. The new version which will be out in Beta later in the month (PC only, with a Mac version to follow “later in the year”) will enable users to download or ‘record’ any video on a website where the content isn’t copy protected.
When a user visits a website with embedded video (Real, Flash, QuickTime or Windows Media), a floating tab appears giving them the option to download the file or ‘record’ it in the case of a live stream. Users can then burn the video onto a VideoCD or if they upgrade to the paid version (RealPlayer Plus) they can create a DVD. The legality of this new feature is bound to be tested once it’s released, as downloading and storing video from sites like YouTube may actually break their Terms of Service.
As well as downloading the video, the option to share the video link via email is also available, in a thinly disguised attempt to win over content producers by helping send traffic back to the originating site.
During a rather rushed and frantic demo of the software given by RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser (see video below), conference host Walt Mossberg interrupted on a number of occasions to raise the potential concerns of copyright holders.
Positioning the new RealPlayer as like a VCR, Glaser said “We’re like a video recorder, we are a piece of utility software that has no specific knowledge of anything to do with copyright.” Unless copy protection in the form of DRM was detected it was fair game to download any video for personal use, he argued. Additionally, any advertising that is served up as part of the content would also be respected. “We support the business model. So if the video is authored with an ad in it, we include both the ad and the video.”
In an earlier briefing with NewTeeVee, Jeff Chasen, Real VP of RealPlayer and Horizontal Products, was quoted as saying “When something is streaming it’s in the clear. It’s like TiVo.”