What is ripping?
DVD and Blu-ray ripping is the process of extracting content off a physical disk and converting it to a virtual disk file or to one/several self-contained video file/s. Simply put it’s a process of back up a DVD or Blu-ray to a completely different storage medium. This process is also sometimes referred to as format shifting.
Is ripping for the purpose of:
- backing up the DVD’s and Blu-rays that you own (archival)
- playing content from DVD’s and Blu-rays (that you own) on devices that don’t have disk drives (personal use) is legal in several countries. Although there are still many countries with copyright acts that have legislation that makes it Illegal to back up a DVD or Blu-ray for any purpose.
From what I have read the most recent revision of Australia Copy Right Act supports the backing up of DVD and Blu-ray but only for archival or personal use. Having said this Australia’s copyright law is a web of old, new and wildly outdated legislation. May websites contradict each other on this topic however the newer ones appear to all agree it is legal.
What is illegal is the distribution of backups, lending the original or the backup (providing the original has a backup copy made of it) and ripping of rental disks.
Note I’m not a layer so don’t take my word as gospel. It’s always best to check for yourself and obviously if you don’t live in Australia you need to check your own countries laws.
Why might you want to rip a DVD or Blu-ray?
There are many reasons that someone might want to rip a film off a physical disk. Many people want to watch things on their tablets and thin laptops which don’t have disk drives and thus ripping allows them to do so.
Others like myself want to back up their physical connection before it degrades and won’t play back. DVDs mad around 2006 tend to suffer from a phenomenon called disk rot. Disk rot is a process where the metal layer that responsible for storing the data; on the disk, oxidise and is no longer readable. DVD also tend to have a life time of about 10 years before they start to degraded. If you’re a DVD living where the climate is hot and humid like it is in Australia than your life span is even shorter.
Blu-rays have been designed to last for around 50 years. Although Blu-ray standard hasn’t been around that long, so no one knows how long a Blu-rays will last in real world conditions.
Convince might also be another factor. For instance, is much more convenient to find one file out of 200+ episode series than it is to dig through multiple disk cases to find the one episode you want to watch.
Play back of Blu-rays on any computer is a massive pain because it requires clunky and specialised video play back software to handle the DRM. Most these programs are expensive and don’t provide the users with many options. Backups of Blu-rays don’t have the unassay DRM and can be played on the user choice of video program.
What software to use to rip physical media?
There is an abundance of software that will rip DVD for you. Some cost money and others are free. With Blu-ray there aren’t as many options and there are currently no free software options. The DRM on Blu-rays is much more complex which has resulted in fewer ripping and back up applications. Most of the Blu-ray ripping applications available today also need to connect to a decryption key database as well. As of the time writing this this article there aren’t any ripping or back up tools that allow the copying of UHD Blu-rays. This is mainly because PC UHD Blu-ray drives aren’t widely available yet (thus there isn’t any software either).
Many of the websites that sell the ripping or back up software also look a little sketchy; which can make choosing and buying the software a harder choice.
Personally, I use DVD Fabs as it works well, is easy to use and there is a decent amount of community and first party support. However, the life time licence is a little pricy. The feature I’m the happiest with is the de-interlacing feature which is wonderful at restoring DVD with video that is encoded in 480i. DVD Fab also have tools that allow the disk region of a disk drive to be dynamically changed; which is handy if you import films and series from places like Amazon.
Appendix and Further Reading
- Blu-ray - http://www.ebay.com.au/gds/Blu-Ray-Region-Code-Information-/10000000007380407/g.html
- DVD - http://www.ebay.com.au/gds/DVD-REGION-CODES-EXPLAINED-What-is-a-REGION-CODE-/10000000004641793/g.html
DVD and Blu-Ray DRM
Zach Radloff lives on the Gold Coast. He is studding IT and Multimedia at university and is a qualified Live Production, Theatre and Events Technician.
Zach Radloff's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/zach-radloff.html