Legal DVD copy software

Question

What is the best software to use for copying DVDs?

- Mike

Answer

This question was answered on March 29, 2006. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

The popularity of DVD burners has driven many users to want to make copies of DVDs There are two primary types of copies that come into play; copying of home-made DVDs and copying of commercial, copyrighted DVDs (movies, games, software, etc.)

The “which software should I use” is greatly impacted by what is being copied If you want to make copies of DVDs that you created or any DVD that does not have copy protection on it, any program that copies DVDs including the very popular Nero (which comes with many DVD burners), is fine

As soon as the intent is to copy commercial copy-protected DVDs, the process gets a lot more complicated (and most likely illegal).

Unlike commercial music CDs, DVD movies come with a copy protection scheme known as CSS (Content Scrambling System) which prevents simple disk to disk copying.

Any software program that circumvents this copy protection is by U.S law, illegal, so any software that claims that it can make an exact copy of any DVD movie (including all of the special features and extras) is illegal

Most try to hide behind the “fair use” argument, but the law is pretty clear on direct circumvention of copy protection.

As a parent of a couple of ‘less than attentive’ DVD users, making copies of a newly acquired DVD and shelving the original has real appeal, but you need to understand all the parts involved before you get too involved in trying to copy all your DVDs.

First of all, virtually every commercial DVD movie on the market today is larger (roughly 8 GB of content) than the low cost DVD disks (a.k.a single layer – 4.7 GB) disks, so in order to squeeze everything onto the low cost disks, you must compress the video.

This compression will likely lower the quality of the video, unless you buy the more expensive Dual Layer blank DVDs The difference in price can go from 30-50 cents for single layer disks to $3-$5 for dual layer disks.

Next, be sure that you have lots of free hard drive space (I recommend at least 15 GB) so there is room to transfer the movie from the DVD to your computer’s hard drive as this is the most common legal method of making copies.

By playing back the movie and capturing that playback on your computer’s hard drive, you have not circumvented the copy protection and now fall under the “fair use” copy standards.

Think of it as the electronic equivalent of playing a DVD movie and recording it onto a VHS tape (or your computer’s hard drive) This also means that there is a 1:1 ratio for transferring the movie (a 2 hour movie will take 2 hours to transfer to your hard drive) and none of the special features will be transferred.

Once you have created this movie file on your computer’s hard drive, you can burn it to a DVD and it will all be completely legal as long as you don’t distribute the copy.

Illegal methods abound on the Internet, but a system from ADS Tech called DVDXpress DX2 which is designed to capture any video stream (camcorder, DVD, VHS, etc.) is a legal way of getting the job done (but requires the connection of a standard DVD player to the system).

Not only can you make DVDs from the captured video, it also supports the video standards for Sony’s PSP and Apple’s iPod video, so it (legally) fills many needs of today’s hi-tech households.

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on March 29, 2006