DVD copying has been in the news a lot as of late. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) continues to make noise about internet downloading of movies and the usage of DVD backup tools. The latter can remove the encryption from DVD’s protected with CSS encoding and subsequently re-encode the video so that you can burn the movie on a standard DVD-R. Of course the MPAA is worried about piracy (after all, what’s stopping you from borrowing discs from all of your mates and “returning” them in a few hours?), which contributed to the estimated $6.1 billion of revenue lost to piracy in 2005.
While the MPAA’s concerns about intellectual property theft are understandable, the question must be asked: what exactly is wrong with making a personal backup of one’s own purchased movies? There are two very good reasons why a law abiding citizen would copy or encode a DVD disc:
- Insurance. DVD’s get scratched rather easily – especially if you have children. MGM certainly isn’t going to mail you new discs if you scratch your originals, so why not protect your investment by making and using a backup?
- Format change. Portable video players like the Ipod Video and the Creative Zen Vison:M are gaining popularity among consumers. These hard-drive based players have no DVD drive but can read computer-based files like DivX and MPEG2. Many software tools exist to convert DVD’s into these formats allowing you to watch your movies in the library, on the bus (or waiting for the bus, if you live in Toronto), etc
If you’ve ever considered dabbling, you will be pleased to know that the best backup tools tend to be free. In particular, DVD Shrink is an excellent “1 click dvd copy” tool that allows even the novice to make backups with ease. The MPAA has prevented many sites from making this software available for download so finding it might be tough. However, the Blink7 DVD Shrink Tutorial offers a clue on how to obtain the software. This tutorial is also good for beginners, as it covers DVD copying from first principles.