.m4v --> DVD
January 5, 2009 1:00 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible / legal to burn .m4v files on to a DVD?

I'm trying to put an iTunes movie purchase onto DVD for standalone viewing. Purchase was made on a mac. I'm used to all kinds of "workarounds" but got stumped on this. Anyone have a solution?
posted by phaedon to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think that's one of the limitations of getting movies through iTunes.

One might consider that if you've paid for the film in question, you shouldn't have any reservations about *ahem* otherwise acquiring it, then burning that file to disc. After all, they got your money.

Also, if this is important to you, many new movies now come with iTunes-compatible "digital download" copies-- you get the normal DVD copy of the movie, plus a DVD-quality copy imported to your hard drive, which you can put on your iPod and such. If you're willing to pay for a movie and want it in both iTunes and physical storage this seems like something you may be interested in.
posted by baphomet at 1:07 PM on January 5, 2009

I can't point you to a specific solution, but there's nothing legal/illegal about any particular filetype, its the content that may be protected by law.
posted by jjb at 1:07 PM on January 5, 2009

jjb, I think he just oddly phrased the question "can I burn this movie I bought on iTunes to disc". The specific file type is superfluous to the question, although to answer that yes, VisualHub will allow you to convert a .m4v into DVD and burn it.
posted by baphomet at 1:10 PM on January 5, 2009

jjb, I think he just oddly phrased the question "can I burn this movie I bought on iTunes to disc". The specific file type is superfluous to the question, although to answer that yes, VisualHub will allow you to convert a .m4v into DVD and burn it.

Actually, the specific file type is not superfluous. I'd like to figure out specifically how to get this .m4v file to play on a standalone DVD. And I just tried to download VisualHub per your suggestion but apparently it is a discontinued product.
posted by phaedon at 1:17 PM on January 5, 2009

m4v files from itunes are DRM-ridden. According to the non-circumvention clause of the DMCA its probably illegal to circumvent the DRM. If you read the license/use agreement, you'll probably find some legalese about being prohibited from using this on non-protected hardware like a DVD player. There might be exceptions to this.

That said, this program claims to break the DRM on those files.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:27 PM on January 5, 2009

DVD Flick?

I don't know if it would work with an M4V file (but M4V and MP4 are basically the same thing), but a friend of mine in Germany uses it to burn movies he downloads from BitTorrent.

Also, I had a movie that I ripped from a DVD and encoded for the PS3 using DVDFab Decrypter. The original DVD got pretty scratched up (I have a 3 year old), so I took the PS3-encoded MP4 file, dropped it into DVD Flick, and had a standard-DVD playable disc when it was all said and done.

Might be worth a try.

One caveat: you need a Windows machine to use it.
posted by Master Gunner at 1:29 PM on January 5, 2009

Use the analog hole. I have a box (an 'Omni DHR2681') which makes this sort of thing trivial. Any dvd recorder with, say, an S-video and optical audio input should work (though I gather it would be illegal in the USA).
posted by pompomtom at 1:39 PM on January 5, 2009

You could also screen-scrape the content in real time using screen video recording software (I use Snapz Pro X with great success).
posted by porn in the woods at 2:02 PM on January 5, 2009

Circumventing the DRM would be illegal due to the DMCA.

If you're in a country where this is legal then I second pompomtom's technique of using the analog hole of dvd recorders because it bypasses all the problems of decryption.
posted by holloway at 2:50 PM on January 5, 2009

Sorry, but it's not really as practical as burning an iTunes track to a CD. This is one area where Apple's store is really lacking. I suspect they may be trying to get people to buy an Apple TV.

Come to think of it, I don't think there are any DRM-free movie stores. Amazon has watermarked MP3s, which are a good compromise for most consumers. I imagine watermarked AVIs could be a similar option, but that's not going to happen any time soon since converting video from one device to another is slow and complicated for the consumer.

For now, it looks like the best option is a real DVD which can be ripped (albeit illegally thanks to CSS) and converted for most devices via Handbrake. For this specific file, try the analog hole, as others suggested, or wait for the inevitable hack to remove the DRM and use a DVD authoring program to make a burnable copy. Analog-hole recording tends to cause a drop in quality, but it's better than nothing. If you're pissed and feel entitled to a copy of the film that you paid money for, see how your moral compass feels about getting a copy of the DVD off of bit torrent, although I get the feeling that's not good, either.

As holloway said, you're more or less at the mercy of Apple's EULA and the DMCA in this case if you want to stay 100% "by the book" legal. Of course, it's hard to keep to that standard online. As I said above, it's just as illegal to remove the encryption on a DVD, even if it's just to convert it to play on your iPhone or to keep a backup in case your child breaks it. The DMCA pretty severely restricts fair use of copyright material, but you've probably heard this soapbox plenty of times.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:23 PM on January 5, 2009

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