According to the MPAA and other entities, you violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) when you copy a movie and get around the copy protection measures and region codes placed on DVD and Blu-ray discs. This part of the act conflicts with another act, which has been interpreted by the courts to authorize a single archive copy of any recording, not just an audio recording. In the eyes of the movie industry, if you want an archive copy of a movie, you should buy another copy. There’s nothing like squeezing the consumer for every penny they can get, is there? Regardless of what they think, the DMCA doesn’t cancel or override the Home Audio Recording Act and therefore, you can’t be penalized if you copy a movie for home use only (a single copy). Besides, unless you’re making copies for someone else (or unless they see a blank disc with the title written on it), no one will ever know you’re making any copies at all.
To Copy a Movie, a Computer is Recommended
I’m sure if you look hard enough (think of China), you’ll find an appliance or two that will make exact duplicates of DVD or Blu-ray discs, removing or not removing the codes or protection. The easiest way is to use a computer with a DVD or Blu-ray drive attached. Of course, to copy a Blu-ray disc means you must have a Blu-ray drive.
A Blu-ray drive can read DVD discs but not vice-versa. It’s not because of the firmware; it’s because of the hardware. Blu-ray uses a “blue” laser, hence the reason for the naming convention, while a DVD uses a red laser. I could be wrong – it’s been a few years since I’ve messed with any hardware. You have to remember one thing when you begin to copy a movie: The target disc (or drive) has to be big enough to hold the copy.
Copy a Movie – The Right Software for “Ripping”
There are a lot of software packages out there that will rip (extract the digital media) unprotected DVD and Blu-ray discs, but how many of that kind of disc have you come across? As far as I know, there are no software packages that will rip a disc the right way sold in the United States. There used to be a few, but the movie studios have done a good job of putting them out of business. They don’t want you to have the ability to copy a movie of any kind, not just those with copy protection on them.
A friend of mine in the US uses one of the software packages you can buy at dvdfab.com – I don’t (and I won’t) because I can’t be bothered to spend the time required to rip them. Anyway, he swears by it. He also buys a bunch of blank discs every month to put the unprotected copies on. He doesn’t do any further encoding because he’s fine with an exact, yet unprotected copy, of any movie he cares to copy.
Copy a Movie – The Right Software for “Encoding”
The files ripped from a DVD or Blu-ray disc can be encoded to make it into a much smaller, single file. There are some DVD or Blu-ray players (the kind you connect to TVs) that will read the resulting files. It’s just a matter of making sure the player you buy can read your preferred formats (avi, mp4, mkv, etc.). Of course, software media players can read them from any media storage type.
I’m not familiar with the latest and the greatest software packages out there, but I used to use Auto Gordian Knot (or just AutoGK). I would compress my movies into AVI files, many of which I still have stored on external hard drives (and never watch).
Although the terms “ripping” and “encoding” don’t sound the same as copying, it is. If you go through the steps, you’re going to copy a movie, even if it isn’t an “exact” copy.
Who Cares about Copyrights?
Most consumers don’t care about copyrights. You just want to be able to watch what you want to watch, when you want to watch it and on the device you want to watch it on. The companies that care about copyrights are the people who are doing things to prevent consumers from consuming the way they want to consume.
The media companies haven’t figured out how to compete with free yet. Every movie ever made can be located somewhere on the Internet, and in many cases, completely free of any cost except your bandwidth. Caution: If you’re going to go after free movies, make sure you use a torrent privacy service. If you’re an ordinary consumer, you can’t afford to be sued.
The companies that offer streaming services prove my point. For less than $10 a month, people in the US and Canada (and maybe some other places) can have anything in the companies’ libraries streamed to them on a variety of devices. Those companies are making money hand over fist. The problem with streaming is the same problem with physical discs. It relies on someone else controlling the stream. It’s so much easier to have a copy on hand and the quality is usually better than what’s streamed. Of course, I left out the most important part: It isn’t available everywhere due to some stupid licensing agreements.
In other words, streaming isn’t available where I live in the Philippines unless I do some funky proxying maneuvers to get around the country restrictions. I would subscribe to one or more streaming services in a heartbeat if I could do it legally – and I would toss every copy of every movie I have stored that they already have in their libraries.
Why Copy a Movie in the First Place?
As good as the streaming services are, they don’t carry every movie in their libraries. While I’m sure they’ll eventually get there, it isn’t going to be anytime soon. Some of the people who decide to copy a movie are those who refuse to buy the same movie over and over. Physical media doesn’t last, no matter how hard we try to make it last. Any number of things can go wrong.
Other people decide to copy a movie to become a part of their own personal library, which doesn’t need an Internet connection to view. It’s not about robbing the entertainment industry of any revenue they feel they’re entitled to – it’s about convenience and reliability.