Sunday, April 03, 2005

Why DVD encryption sucks

I bought the new Here Come the ABCs CD/DVD combo from They Might Be Giants back in February for David. He loves it. In fact, he loves it so much that if it's not in the DVD player already, he goes out, finds it, and gives it to us to put in for him.

Unfortunately, he hasn't yet mastered the nuances of handling optical media. So it's gotten all smudged, scuffed, and skip-prone, in only about two months. This is not good.

Well, since it's a DVD, it features both CSS scrambling and Macrovision copy protection, just to prevent us lawless consumers from making copies. Fortunately, though, DVD protection is actually a thing of the past. Because there's all kinds of utilities available to bypass said protection.

In my case, I used a freeware product called Mac The Ripper to read the original disc (after cleaning it as best as I could), and that wrote the VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS folders on the DVD to my iMac G4's hard drive. That left me with what was essentially an unencumbered copy of the DVD that was otherwise indistinguishable from the original material.

Then, I used another program called DVD Imager (also free) to drop the folders I wanted copied to a ISO image suitable for burning back to a DVD blank. My only glitch came in burning - for some reason my iMac doesn't like the Memorex DVDs I stocked up on a while back, so I burned two coasters before giving up and transferring the 3.2 GB .IMG file to my PowerBook, where the burn not only worked fine, but worked at 4x. The iMac has a Sony 4x drive, the PowerBook has a Matsushita 4x - but the Memorex media only likes the latter. Who knows why. Anyhow, the disc worked perfectly, so all I have to do now is carefully file away the original DVD and write the title on the one I made with a handy Sharpie. Problem solved, at a cost of about $.50 (not counting the two coasters).

And for this (bypassing copy protection to make a backup for personal use), the Powers That Be would probably like to string me up a pole.

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