Ever have a really bad day?
Well, it seems RealNetworks is having one. There's a pair of stories on Wired.com detailing even further troubles for the company. First is an article on a class-action suit filed in Pennsylvania charging that RealNetworks violated both state and federal law in collecting and using personal information about users of its RealJukebox software. This is actually the second such suit; another was filed in California last week.
As if that weren't enough, here's another article discussing a new product called Streambox ripper that can decrypt files stored in RealNetworks' RealAudio format and convert them to an alternate format such as MP3. One of the primary attractions of the RealAudio format for content providers was that it allowed them to determine whether content could be saved to disk by the user for later playback or only streamed to the user for one-time listening. With the Streamworks ripper, users can store downloaded audio to disk even if the content provider doesn't enable that capability. That can't be making content providers happy. [Update - A reader wrote in to inform me that the Ripper program itself cannot save to disk files designated by the content provider as "do not save". A trip to the Streambox web site confirmed this; a different program, Streambox VCR, is necessary to save the stream to disk. According to the reader other programs, such as X-FileGet and cURL, will do this as well.]
Oh yeah, and Xing Technologies, the company that pissed off every other company in the DVD consortium by forgetting to encrypt their DVD decryption key, leading to the crack of the DVD encryption? They're a subsidiary of RealNetworks. I imagine that in the last couple of weeks, every time it hit the fan at RealNetworks, somebody said "Can it get any worse than this?" They've probably stopped asking by now.