Collect the Web with Ript | The Download Blog - CNET Download.com

Collect the Web with Ript

A new, free software program lets you collect the bits of digital ephemera you see on the Web every day. You can then combine those bits of text, images, and links to create printable or shareable collages.

Ript (Credit: Oxygen Media)

Ript is a new, free software application in beta development that lets you collect images and text from the Web, then compile and arrange them into pages you can print or share with friends and family. It's a simple freeware idea that makes sense...and it's from Oprah? Well, sort of. The publisher is the Oprah Winfrey-founded Oxygen Media, recently acquired by Universal.

Ript works via an overlay "Pile"--representing by a stack of documents--that sits on a layer on top of all your applications. You can work with your programs as you normally would, and drag any images, text, or links to the Pile that you want to save. Each of the specific saved Web data is called a "scrap."

Once you've saved a few scraps, you can access them by double-clicking the Pile, which opens the Table interface. In the Table interface you can then rotate, enlarge, and otherwise arrange those scraps on pages, similar to a scrapbook. You can't add links directly to scraps, but you can store certain metadata such as where an item comes from, where it links to, and any notes you want to include about an item. You can save links, but they're stored as simple text URLs, and not clickable in the RIPT files.

You can work on several pages at once using the Table interface, and save your final, single-page creations as JPGs or proprietary RIPT files, which can be edited or enhanced with more scaps. Printing worked fine, as did the e-mail feature, but do we really need to be printing or e-mailing more bits of digitial ephemera? Aside from creating by collage, you can can add your own text to any Ript file, but there's only one font. Voila!

This Ript collage isn't very cool, but it doesn't violate the terms (as far as I can tell).

Did I mention it's a beta version?

Unfortunately, there are a few major problems with the image capturing process, or maybe the Pile is just out of luck when it comes to background images or images displayed via CSS. I especially had a bit of trouble capturing images from Oxygen Media's own site using Internet Explorer. Worse, it doesn't seem to work well with large images. Even when I did manage to grab the background image of Husband for Hire, half of the image was black. That happened frequently with other large images.

The software seems still very much in development, so it's impossible to rip on Ript too much, and I hope I don't sound too critical. It's a great idea, but it needs to work more effectively with all Web images (and why not video too?) and/or launch a online sharing service--which obviously brings its own set of issues...

When reading the pre-install license agreement (which you should always do, by the way), I noticed a variety of unusual restrictions for sharing content using Ript:

You may not use the Service to post, upload, share or transmit any message or Content which:
•infringes or violates any copyright, trademark, service mark, patent, trade secret, confidentiality rights or other proprietary rights of any third party
•is abusive, hateful, inflammatory, harmful, tortuous, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable
•is obscene, vulgar or pornographic
•you do not have a right to transmit under any law or contractual or other obligation
•is being used to harass, stalk or otherwise threaten a person
•is libelous, defamatory or invades any privacy or publicity rights of any third party
•impersonates any other person or otherwise falsely states or otherwise misrepresents an affiliation with a person or entity
•contains or promotes violence, drug use, illegal gambling or other criminal activity
•contains any virus, Trojan Horse, time bomb or any other harmful or disabling software code
•is harmful to minors or
•contains or promotes any materials or information which may violate any law, rule, regulation, ordinance or requirement to which you are subject.

Wow, that's a lot of stuff. Don't even think about creating an adult-version adapation of Fight Club (I won't even dare to venture a possible title), and specifically don't use it to harass or libel me, because I'll sue!

Ript Pile

The Pile, on this very page--spooky!

(Credit: CNET Networks)

As for my Ript file above, I used the Oxygen Media original art piece as an editorial example from the software publisher's site of the program's inability to capture large images well; the text blurbs are from Google Search, but obviously repurposed from other sites. (If Google can use it, can I?) The picture of Ken Mehlman is covered by well over 50%. It is infringement? Libel? I don't think so. I removed a delightful picture of Queen Latifah and Steve Martin from Bringing Down the House. I left a blank white text space in their honor.

Most of these content restrictions are reasonable for an all-ages online service, although "vulgar" (does sex education qualify?) and "harmful to minors" (pictures with people smoking cigarettes?) seem awfully broad. Also...Ript doesn't have an online sharing service. It's clear they must be considering one, or else particularly sensitive to liability issues.

If it's the former, I agree with them. With the Ript software alone, you're e-mailing JPGs to friends without any interactivity. A Web site that let you upload the proprietary RIPT format files and provides tools for you and your friends to collaborate (and destroy) each other's creations--that would be cool. Until then, I'll likely rip Ript out of my Add and Remove Programs panel shortly.

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