Even for the most law-abiding entertainment consumer, copyright law is a frustration that’s impossible to avoid. If you want to watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones on your Android tablet, for example, it’s impossible to buy a digital version legally. Your only alternatives are to buy an iPad and download the show through iTunes in standard definition, or wait until the season is released on DVD and rip it from there.
But even ripping your own DVDs or Blu-rays is a legal quagmire. While it is technically legal to backup a DVD for personal use under Australian Copyright law, it is technically illegal to break the encryption found on commercial DVDs – something you need to do in order to backup the disc.
While a review of that particular bit of nonsense is currently underway, the truth of the matter is that the federal police aren’t going to knock down your door for ripping your DVD copy of Avatar to watch on your tablet, even if you do end up breaking the encryption.
But how do you transfer your content from one format to another? While the details depend on your setup – whether you’re using a PC or Mac, or an iPad or an Android tablet – the process is pretty similar across the board.
Stage one: Ripping
The first stage for getting entertainment from disc to drive is ripping the video and audio. Obviously, you’ll need a DVD or Blu-ray drive to make it happen which is pretty standard fare for anyone other than netbook or Ultrabook owners.
The next thing you’ll need is some AV ripping software. There are plenty of options on the market, but the best would have to be Handbrake (handbrake.fr), mostly because it’s open source and free for all PC, Mac and Linux users.
Alternatively, you could try a program like WinX DVD Ripper or DVD Cloner for PC or Roxio’s Toast Titanium for Mac, especially as Handbrake won’t break DVD copy protection. That fact hasn’t posed a problem yet while ripping dozens of DVDs.
Handbrake also offers plenty of custom controls over the ripped video, as well as presets for lots of different devices you might be ripping the file for, including the iPhone, Android devices or the Apple TV.
When you first launch Handbrake, it will ask you to pick a source. Simply find your DVD drive and click OK and the software will begin analysing the contents of your disc.
Because DVDs are full of lots of different files – things like the anti-piracy warning at the start of your movie, trailers and menus – Handbrake automatically scans to find the main file you probably want to rip. In the case of movies it should be the longest file on the disc, but in the case of TV shows, it may be a bit harder to discern which episode is which until after you’ve ripped the files.
The good news is that if you want to rip multiple episodes of a show from a single disc, you can set them up in a queue and have them all rip at once.