“You wouldn’t steal a car,you wouldn’t steal a handbag, you wouldn’t steal a DVD.” This message pervades the beginning of nearly every DVD that we consumers watch nowadays, warning us that copying DVDs is illegal no matter how easy it is to do. What they usually don’t tell the consumer is that, legally, you can make back up copies of your DVDs for personal use, as well as put them on your iPod/mobile viewing device.
Remember, you can only copy DVDs that you own, and it has to be for your personal use. That being said, these steps apply to any DVD you might own, even copyrighted ones. Humans of lesser integrity may have other motives for DVD copying, but these people should, of course, be put before a firing squad.
While there are currently dozens of freeware programs out there that allow you to make a back-up copy of your DVD, we have chosen Handbrake — a reliable program for both the Mac and PC that converts an encrypted DVD into a file format that can be copied by the computer. Take note that Mac users can start on step three.
From DVD to iPod
1. Download the program DVD Decrypter (Google it), this freeware will strip the DVD of its copy-write protection and allow Handbrake to convert it to a file format that your iPod understands.
2. Open DVD Decrypter and set the mode to “ISO-Read,” set your file destination to ‘Desktop’ and press ‘Play.’ The decryption generally takes no more than 30 minutes, depending on the computer. This file should be deleted when you have completed all the steps; the file is an intermediate and takes up a lot of space on your hard drive.
3. While your DVD is copying to your computer, or for the Mac users who are just now joining us you should visit the Web site http://handbrake.fr and download the Handbrake application (another freeware application).
4. Upon opening Handbrake, select either the file you saved in Step 2 as the ‘Source,’ or the DVD that’s in your Mac disk drive.
5. In the Presets column on the right hand side, select “iPod” (or the appropriate setting for your device, i.e. PSP, PS3). Then select a destination; the desktop is the easiest spot.
6. Start encoding — this can take more than two hours, so be patient.
7. When it’s done, open iTunes. From the file menu select “add file to library.” Then find the file that you just created in Handbrake.
8. Your movie should now appear in iTunes and can be placed on your iPod-or other portable media device-during the next sync.
This process was put in as simple terms as possible, so any questions can be directed back to us through e-mail. For further information on copyrights, visit http://www.mpaa.org/piracy.asp
Columnists Glen Pfeiffer and Ryan Gibbons can be reached at email@example.com.