Burning DVDs
February 27, 2004 9:54 AM   Subscribe

A computer illiterate question about DvD burn: got a new top-o-line computer with a dvd burner and a dvd-rom. I have blank dvds. I go to Blockbuster and rent _____. Is it possible to simply copy the Blockbuster DVD and then have my own useable copy? It seems to me that there would be a problem with the menus or something. Is there software which I need to copy DvDs so that they play in my TV-DvD player? Is there a copyright protection issue?
posted by Seth to Computers & Internet (17 answers total)
No. The copy protection will prevent you, in a rather effective manner, from simply copying the DVD. And copying the DVD is illegal under any circumstances. Legally you can't even copy DVDs you bought outright.

DVD X Copy software will do what you want, but it was declared illegal this week. Seriously.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:05 AM on February 27, 2004

But, if you really want to copy DVDs, or make backups of DVDs you own, even though you now know both are illegal, DVD X Copy does a great job.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:08 AM on February 27, 2004

This was bascially discussed in the blue recently. But even reasonable activities like backing up your own DVDs is, as mentioned previously, illegal, so we shouldn't discuss it here. However, feel free to email me if you have any questions about DVD authoring-- it's my favorite hobby right now.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:28 AM on February 27, 2004

DVD Shrink is excellent for backing up your personal DVD collection.

After squeezing the disc down, you can then use your favourite DVD-R software in DVD-Video mode to burn the results. Enjoy.

I'll ignore that you mentioned Blockbuster (just like I do when customers ask about modchips... :fume:). Also, I'll assume that you're talking about Blockbuster Canada, as in the US the DMCA-Nazis will shoot you or something. But I can't, do both, can I? ARGH. That sucks. ;-)
posted by shepd at 10:37 AM on February 27, 2004

Response by poster: I was asking in a merely hypothetical way.

Of course things that are illegal shouldn't be done.

I was just curious if it was possible, and how it would be.

That way I can analyze the policy better about the recent case law saying it is a "no-no."

... or something.
posted by Seth at 11:06 AM on February 27, 2004

But even reasonable activities like backing up your own DVDs is, as mentioned previously, illegal, so we shouldn't discuss it here.

That's arguable. Providing a tool to facilitate the backup process is illegal under (a potentially unconstitutional provision of) the DMCA. The actual act of backing up media you own is (arguably) not covered, and there is significant caselaw supporting the right to make backups.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:23 AM on February 27, 2004

Can you just nibble copy a DVD and play the dupe? No. But the alternatives are just as easy and generally not much slower:

For Windows, DVDXCopy is a really rickety, dodgy piece of shovelware that happens to do precisely as you're asking, sometimes, if you can get it to run. It's got a slapdash feel to it and in my limited experiments has a very high failure rate.

For Windows, DVD Shrink is a really high quality piece of software that happens to do precisely as you're asking with very little trouble at all.

For Linux, there are, ahem, other options. Presumably OSX has some as well, given that Apple was one of the initial major resellers of DVD burners in the first place.

From a technical perspective, you are not going to experience any sort of copy protection issues whatsoever. Copy protection techniques on DVD-Video are still laughably primitive and ineffective. The CSS "encryption" scheme, for example, isn't even intended to prevent copying but to prevent playing. It's chiefly there to prevent "unauthorized" DVD players from being manufactured outside of the electronics hardware cabal's purview.

Menus and other non-MPEG-stream features can be copied just as easily as the rest of the DVD.

In most copyright-respecting countries, making duplicates of rented media is frowned on. In a growing handful of DMCA-like countries, primarily the English-speaking nations, doing so even with media you own is potentially illegal as well.
posted by majick at 11:36 AM on February 27, 2004

DVD Shrink. Free. Quick. Reliable. Very soon: illegal.

You don't mention what burner mechanism you have, whether it is DVD+R, DVD-R, or a dual format, nor what kind of media you are using, nor what kind of console DVD player is hooked up to your TV, but all of these things will have an impact on your success rate. I'd suggest doing the homework on your console player now. If it's older than a year or two, chances are it might not like home-burned discs very much. These days, it's not hard to find one that will play VCDs, DVD+RWs, etc. But I find that older models didn't bother include this support most of the time.

Remember, every disc you copy illegally kills a kitten.
posted by scarabic at 12:44 PM on February 27, 2004

Many cheap apex dvd players will take svcds, which is a format you can burn onto blank cds.

Weren't eight track tape producers sued for producing a product that was intentionally designed to quit working? Tell me again why we can't make a scratch resistant cd?
posted by mecran01 at 12:44 PM on February 27, 2004

I believe EasyDivX (freeware) can also copy a DVD successfully. Although the test I saw it run was on a "Meet the Feebles" DVD, which may not have had any sort of copy protection.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:54 PM on February 27, 2004

>Tell me again why we can't make a scratch resistant cd?

We tried that one. Nobody wants to pay for the caddies.
posted by shepd at 1:07 PM on February 27, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for the all excellent explanations.

Here is another "hypothetical:"

Suppose a guy has a wife who loves a TV show, such as.... say, Sex in the City. Suppose this wife really wants to keep the show for posterity.

Now the guy has a new computer with some sort of GigaPocket thing that works like TiVo to save programs onto the hard-drive. So he saves all the Sex and the City episodes on the hard drive. Could these be simply burned on to a DVD then watched on any DVD-R compliant player?

Obviously there wouldn't be menus or chapters, so would the disc just start playing epidsodes like if you saved it on a VHS cassette?

(This hypothetical guy doesn't want to get involved with menu authoring).

You guys are great. Thanks.
posted by Seth at 1:34 PM on February 27, 2004

Response by poster: And since scarabic asked, perhaps this will matter-
This hypothetical guy may or may not have this system.

Which has the following DVD set-up:
-RW (8X max. write / 4X max. rewrite / 8X max. read)
+RW (8X max. write / 4X max. rewrite / 8X max. read)
CD-RW (24X max. write / 24X max. rewrite / 32X max. read)

16X max. DVD-ROM Read / 40X max. CD-ROM read
posted by Seth at 1:40 PM on February 27, 2004

"Could these be simply burned on to a DVD then watched on any DVD-R compliant player?"

Yes. Sort of. Maybe.

As far as I know this is an open legal issue. Obviously if you were to do this with VHS, and you only had it for your own use, it would be legal. But big media wants to make a big deal of how DVDs are digital, so perfect copies are possible, so people shouldn't be allowed to do it. So you can record shows, but only on obsolete technology.

That's the logic. It's working it's way through the courts as we speak.

But of course this is ridiculous. TIVO records in a format that would allow perfect copies. As do all other PVR solutions. Down the road all new computers will have Microsoft's DRM chip which will disable your DVD player/burner if you try something like this.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:43 PM on February 27, 2004

The gal that loves Sex in the City might want to check out suprnova.org.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:31 AM on February 28, 2004

what software would one use to get one's VIDEO_TS folder back onto a DVD-R for viewing?
posted by erebora at 9:01 PM on February 28, 2004

Seconded fff's proposal: BitTorrent is way neato.
posted by Asparagirl at 11:47 PM on February 28, 2004

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