An occasional outlet for my thoughts on life, technology, motorcycles, backpacking, kayaking, skydiving...

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Copying DVDs on the Mac. Finally!

Well, I've complained for years about the increasing arrogance of the movie industry, specifically the DVD design studios. Not only have they decided that you should watch the FBI warnings, Corporate Logo Animation, and Movie Previews every time you insert the disk, but they even disable the Menu, Fast Forward, and Chapter Skip buttons. I have been searching for a DVD player that would allow you to use the buttons when they were supposed to be "Not Permitted." But then I discovered that the Automotive DVD Entertainment Systems also fell victim to this abuse. The whole point of having a DVD system in your vehicle is to pacify your 3 year old while you drive. Now, those of you who know me, know that I do not have any children. I do, however, have a 3 year old nephew whom I treat as my own. So when he decides that he wants to watch Spider-Man half way through watching Cat in The Hat I am forced to try to navigate the system using the goofy touch screen controls without killing us all. I must also explain to a 3 year old why it takes more than 8 minutes to get the movie started. This is a pretentious negotiation since I don't even understand why it must be this way.

This is when I decided to take matters into my own hands. The movie industry has pressed for legislation like the DMCA that will force consumers to give up the power to use their purchased media in the ways they choose. For instance, I choose to make a duplicate of the DVD with the fore-mentioned annoyances removed. Also, I'd like to have the DVD work like a VHS tape รข€“ Just insert it and the movie starts. No navigating. No pushing buttons. This will also protect my investment, since the movies were purchased for a 3 year old. I can also make multiple copies, so that I never have to explain, "I'm sorry but that movie isn't in the car right now. Remember you took it inside to watch it last night, and I forgot it." Oh, but wait. That's now ILLEGAL! Not just making multiple copies, but making a single copy to prevent your original from being destroyed is even illegal. The kicker of it all is that the DVD format was originally designed to have a protective casing to avoid damage. And "yes" the reader/writers for these disks were backwards compatible with the CD format and form factor. But the Movie industry thought, "Why protect movies from being destroyed? Many families with young children have bought 3 or more copies of The Lion King due to damage. We don't want to loose these extra sales." Well, I for one am not going to stand by and let myself be treated this way.

I have finally found a solution that is Macintosh easy. Although it is a little time consuming, since you usually have to re-encode the DVD. I use a combination of 2 programs. First is DVD backup which simply copies an encrypted (which all commercial DVDs are) DVD to your harddisk in an un-encrypted, non-region protected format. It is an exact copy, menus, features, etc. Then I use Roxio Popcorn to re-encode the disk removing the menu and extra features to get it to fit onto a DVD-R (4.7GB vs. the 9GB of most commercial DVDs). The result is exactly what I had hoped for years ago. Of course the first step of decrypting the DVD is illegal, but I am doing this for my own use of my own property. If I where mass producing these things to sell on ebay, I wouldn't be writing an article on why I should be sent to prison.


  1. Dear Mister Bronosky:

    I am glad you have published a site like this one. The reason why I am writing this is because I would like to learn how to solve my DVDs backing-up problems. I recently purchased a few computer animation movies, which I hoped to back-up. I copied such files to my computer and then inserted a DVD-R and burned it with such files. I am only able to play the audio and not the visuals. Is the cause of my problem related to codes of DVDs ? Or is it the fact that I am using DVD Player 4.0 and not 4.6 the problem ? I am using a brand new Macintosh G5 computer. Please let me know how to solve my problem. Thank you.


    Dario Bonilla

    P.S. The DVD files played well on my G5 from the original DVDs and not so from such files that were copied to my hard-drive. For instance, I was only able to play the audio and not the visuals from such files that were copied to my hard-drive and to a subsequent DVD-R the same problem happened.

  2. . I do not write such articles anymore.