The chance to legally rip your DVDs to your computer's hard drive has finally arrived after years of frustration, with Real, of Real Player fame, releasing Real DVD.

Although a plethora of illegitimate options exist for ripping DVDs into digital files for playback, Real DVD should take all the metadata, menus and the existing CSS protection and make it available on your hard disk.

However, aside from the hefty 4GB file size, there are a few downsides to Real's latest product – not least the fact that the files will not only keep their CSS protection, but also have Real's DRM as well.

DRM it

The upshot of this is that the files will not be transferable to your portable media player, and will be locked to five PCs and an individual user. Of course, that means that a laptop is the only way to watch these legitimate files on the go.

Real's Eric Fox told Ars Technica: "We don't modify or change the files in any way. We basically make a 'carbon copy' from the disc to disk. We never modify, compress, or change the content."

"We licensed the DVD technology for a legal right to play back DVD content," Fox adds when asked how Real got away from the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). "Our second layer of DRM doesn't hurt, either."

Of course, this utility – which is going into beta and will apparently be priced at around $30 (c£15) – is a long way from being able to treat your DVDs like you do your CDs, where burning them to your device of choice for playback is perfectly acceptable practice.

Indeed, it all seems a little bit late, given the other non-sanctioned but unrestrictive programs, but maybe it's a sign that the film industry is coming around to the idea that people don't just want hard copies of their media.