Yesterday at the "D" conference, RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser unveiled a new video player that allows users to "rip" online videos in various formats. At the demonstration, Glaser showed how easy it is to rip a Dow Jones video from a Brightcove player. Jeremy Allaire, one of the key developers of Flash video and now head of Boston-based Brightcove, is not too pleased. He shares his views with Beet.TV. Here is his unedited e-mail to me:
"RealPlayer 11’s new download/rip feature is a useful tool for end-users, though certainly something that will concern content owners who explicitly choose to stream video so that it is available in controlled environment and where they can monetize it. For example, in Rob Glaser’s demo at the ‘D’ conference he showed how an end-user could just go to the Dow Jones Brightcove Player and just grab the FLV video and save it. This means Dow Jones has lost the opportunity to present their brand, track and audit the use of the content, and it no longer delivers advertising for Dow Jones. Technically, that act is a form of illegal piracy.
Also, while it is interesting that Real Networks has made this feature available through their desktop player, there are many open and freely available web services that will accomplish this task and more. Take Keepvid.com as an example (http://www.keepvid.com), which takes any FLV video URL and offers you a download, an online conversion, etc.
Ultimately, offering end-users an option to download, go portable or burn media will be compelling, but until we have security models in Flash as well as offline advertising and tracking systems this will likely remain mostly a tool for pirates."
Seriously, now, check out this really good article in Information Week about the legal implications of the new player.
— Andy Plesser