On the topic of encoding DVDs there is so much ambiguity about what you can legally do, but basically if you live in the UK or US, it’s illegal – nice! But people still rip DVDs and CDs regardless, you can’t throw us all in jail! The way I see it, I bought it, I own it, it’s for my own use, as long as I don’t file share it, what’s the problem? What possible threat am I doing to the poor, strapped for cash, beleaguered film industry? It physically doesn’t affect them in any monetary way, there is no financial hit to them, and that’s what it all boils down to anyway – money. I think the law should be officially changed to stop all this ambiguity as to whether it’s legal or not to encode your own DVDs for private use, especially concerning UK and US residents.
The Tide is Turning!
It’s inevitable, it will only be a matter of time and the laws will be changed to allow you to legally ‘format-shift’ your DVDs to hard disk or whatever format you like. What has started the ball rolling is a landmark case in 2007 – where the DVD Copy Control Association (a body you must get a license from if you intend to decode DVDs and play them in your technology, say if you were a manufacturer of DVD players) lost its breach-of-contract case from Kaleidoscope Systems, a maker of media servers.
Of course, it seems you can’t have a court case ruling without an appeal, and so DVD CCA are trying to overturn the ruling, BUT if they fail it will have huge ramifications – basically, it will mean that consumers will be able to format-shift DVDs – hooray!! Well thats for those in the US, but I expect that will influence legislation in other countries, especially the UK, who seem to follow closely in the steps of US. However format-shifting is happening in countries like Sweden, Germany and New Zealand despite the US stance and in Spain its legal to distribute your own media as well as pirated media, it only gets illegal if you try and do it for profit. Anyway I just hope, from a British standpoint, we don’t have to wait eons before format-shifting is legal here in the UK.
As an aside – why am I so keen on ripping DVDs….
Ripping DVDs is becoming more common because technology has advanced – its dictating how we, the consumer want our media. For the first time we have the power and technology and most importantly the storage capacity to rip DVDs. A couple of years ago this simply wasn’t the case, hard drives were too small and computers were too slow. Today you can have all your films streamed to Windows Media Centre or a PS3 etc, via your home network, and enjoy any of the movies you own, at the click of the button. This takes out the hassle of finding storage for a sizable collection, trying to locate a particular DVD, avoiding damage to the original discs, and lastly an overwhelming smug/warm feeling inside that you have all your film collection neatly stored on disk to access on a moments whim!
Software recommendations for format-shifting
- DVD Shrink – encodes your DVD to VOB format.
- Handbrake – converts VOB files to MP4 and loads of other stuff too.
- PS3 Video 9 – more emphasis on PS3 but can be used for other devices
Also look at Lifehacker blog for some good info on DVD ripping software.