The Whole DVD Burning Thing

There’s this guy at my office who isn’t very technologically savvy, and when he walked into my office yesterday to check out what I was doing, he saw that I was reading Engadget’s review of the new AppleTV. He was planning on buying a new Blu-Ray player with Netflix built in, but now he’s leaning towards the AppleTV for its cheaper price point. But as we continued talking, he asked me why we can’t just import our DVDs into iTunes the way we did with our CDs. What was the problem with that?

This is a very complicated answer to give someone who isn’t very techy, but that’s ultimately what brought it home to me. He says, “I own this. Why can’t I do what I want with it?”

Good question. It’s been asked before by many people much smarter than me, and answered thousands of times beyond that, so I won’t bore you by rehashing the deets. Regardless, what always bothers me about this scenario is that big media is so afraid that what I’m really going to do is take my DVDs, burn them, then upload them to a torrent site. But really, all I want to do is view them on my iPad, iPod, or iPhone. I always wonder if they think that I’m going to make another purchase of the same movie because it’s in a different format like things were in the HD-DVD/Blu-Ray wars, or VHS/Beta before that. No, I’ve already got a digital version of the movie, I just want to watch it again.

This is never going to change. It’s always going to be illegal to take your own property and transfer it to another device as long as the media companies stay greedy. It sucks, but unfortunately, it’s just the way it is.

Comments

  1. It’s called ripping, not burning.

    Also, it’s not “your own property.” You own the physical media, not the contents.

  2. “It’s always going to be illegal to take your own property and transfer it to another device as long as the media companies stay greedy.”

    I’m pretty sure it’s not illegal–even with the DMCA–to do this. The issue before the media companies is that you could upload it to some torrent site or share it with friends or whatever. They want to prevent this, so they come up with various copy-protection schemes.

    Apple doesn’t rip DVDs because (a) they might offend their potential iTunes Store suppliers and (b) breaking these schemes can be really hard. Some of the companies (yes, there are real commercial companies that sell software for this) will have a steady stream of updates to defeat this scheme or another scheme. Apple wants it to “just work”–if you bring home the latest movie with some new copy protection scheme and it doesn’t rip, Apple will get blamed. So it’s better for Apple to not get into this.

    That said, one reason I don’t have an Apple TV is that I’d really like a Blu-Ray player built in.

  3. But what is the point of the article? I get what your are saying but….

  4. There is a solution to the problem, which is implicit in the graphic with which you open your blog: the Handbrake logo! Why be coy? Just tell people to Handbrake their videos.

  5. In addition to what Cliff said, it was ruled 4 weeks ago* that DVD Ripping is exempt from the DMCA

    http://www.copyright.gov/1201/2010/Librarian-of-Congress-1201-Statement.html

    It’s legal to rip your DVDs for personal use. My tool of choice is RipIt! I still use Handbrake to transcode it into Apple-friendly formats, but Handbrake/VLC takes WAAAY too long to rip from the disc.

    If you’re looking for a free alternative, look into Fairmount.

    *Also ruled on the same day: the iPhone is now on the “exception to the rule” list and can legally be jailbroken/unlocked.

  6. @Gerald

    The article you link to states that DVD ripping, specifically circumventing CSS, is legal when “circumvention is accomplished solely in order to accomplish the incorporation of short portions of motion pictures into new works for the purpose of criticism or comment.” That does not include ripping your movie collection to a hard drive for personal use.

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