Recent RealNetwork's RealPlayer media software has been labeled badware or spyware by Stopbadware.org, an industry-academia group which raise awareness over software that violates privacy terms and fair information.
The group claimed that RealPlayer 10.5 fails to accurately and completely disclose the fact that it installs advertising software on the user's computer. And RealPlayer 11, it claims, does not disclose the fact that it installs Rhapsody Player Engine software, and fails to remove this software when RealPlayer is uninstalled.
In addition, when the user uninstalls RealPlayer, the Rhapsody player is left behind. The term Badware is used to define software which fails to respect the user's choice. Other terms such as; Malware, deceptive adware, and spyware also qualify as badware, although those terms suggest an illegal action from the software creator.
A RealNetworks spokesman disputed the group's assessment of the software.
We're really transparent about what we're installing on someone's machine, said Ryan Luckin, public relations manager for RealNetwork.
He also noted that RealPlayer 11 addresses some of the issues StopBadware has with RealPlayer 10.5 because it requires the user to opt-in to advertising rather than opt-out. Lukin also said any failure to uninstall RealPlayer 11's Rhapsody Player Engine will be addressed in a future update.
In the meantime, StopBadware recommends users to not install either versions of RealPlayer, unless the user is comfortable with the software behaviors we identify or until the application is updated to be consistent with the recommendations in this report.
Stopbadware is backed up by Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society and Oxford University's Oxford Internet Institute, along with companies including Google, Lenovo, and Sun Microsystems.