Authored by Geoff Vaughan in Computer Software
Published on 12-26-2008
With the advent of the Digital Video Disc (DVD), movie watching and storing was changed forever. No longer would the contents of personal movie collections become degraded like they eventually did on VHS tapes, at least not for a long time. Sure, recordable DVD’s eventually lose their magnetism just like most other media of this nature. But the beauty of digital recordings is that you can keep making copies of them forever without any loss in picture or sound quality, due to their nature as digital data.
Many music collectors do just that with their CD collections, thanks to freely available software such as Windows Media Player that will “rip” songs off of a CD onto a person’s hard drive. He can then make a backup copy of his CD in case the original is lost or damaged, or even copy the songs to a different device such as an iPod a type of MP3 player so he can listen to his collection on the go. This capability has been around for years and is very well known, although not without controversy. Some maintain that even making backup copies of songs violates copyright law and should not be done, but that hasn’t stopped millions from doing it.
Much less well known is the ability to copy DVD’s the same way. It is not quite as easy to rip a movie from a DVD, however, as it is to copy a song from a CD. To begin with, movie producers long ago found a way to introduce “copy protection” onto their recordings. This technology dates back even to the VHS days, and makes it difficult to copy a movie from one tape or disc to another, as the end product will often come out scrambled without somehow circumventing the encryption.
Software makers have indeed figured out how to get around the copy protection, but users should be cautioned that “there is no free lunch,” to use the old adage. There are many websites out there that advertise free DVD copy software, but from reading the comments posted by people who have tried to use these programs, many will surreptitiously install spyware onto your computer. Still others do not work as well as advertised.
I tried one such example after seeing a posting on YouTube by a user who demonstrated how to use the software. I installed the program onto my computer, and it did not install any malware onto my computer that I noticed. The problem was that after three days of trying, I was no closer to copying a DVD than before I downloaded it. The software simply did not work. I went online and researched it further, and found out that many other users were having the same problem I was, and there didn’t seem to be any solution.
My only recourse was to spend $30 on a commercial version, and it worked like a charm from the moment I installed it onto my computer. So, my advice is that if you want to avoid a lot of aggravation and maybe some spyware to boot, spend a little bit on commercial DVD copying software and avoid the free ones. There’s still a chance you could get something for nothing in this arena, but odds are you’ll just end up with a big headache.