When Will Apple Decide Ripping DVDs Is Cool Too?

by James R. Stoup Dec 10, 2007

I distinctly remember the weekend I discovered how much iTunes could do for me. I recall being thrilled at the prospect of ripping all of my CDs, playing that music on my computer (and later my iPod), and finally being able to sell my dusty collection of CDs. (In fact, they were all sold, oddly enough, to a middle-aged lesbian couple at a yard sale several years ago. And no, I’m not making that up.) It was truly a joyous day because not only could I now listen to my entire library on my computer, I had reclaimed tons of wasted shelf space that went to more important things like books and cat toys. So, perhaps you can understand, if not share, my frustration as yesterday I stared at my rack of DVDs and desperately wished there was something I could do with them.

The large rack that contains my DVDs is full. It is so full that it has DVDs stacked on top of other DVDs. There are cases leaning against it and more piled at its base. In fact, it has gotten so bad that I’ve finally reached the point where I’m going to have to digitize them just to get them out of my way. The clutter simply has to go. The sad part is that by 2007 I had seriously expected to do this with Apple’s help. Much like they helped me clear out my CDs and move on to a world of digital music, I really thought that by now they would have helped me clear out my DVDs so I could move on to digital videos. Only it hasn’t quite happened like that.

If I decided to put on some pants and drive to Target and buy the White album, then the following would occur when I got home:

1. take off pants (completely optional)
2. put CD in computer
3. open iTunes and rip CD

All fairly easy, wouldn’t you say? But what if instead I picked up a copy of The Matrix while I was at Target? What would be the process for ripping it?

1. go download HandBrake
2. go read the instructions because, let’s face it, you have no idea how to use HandBrake
3. figure out which settings you want to use (frame-rates, compression types, PAL vs NTSC, iPod format, etc.)
4. go reread the documentation because you aren’t really sure you got everything right and you don’t want to waste all this time only to find out you only ripped the first chapter (‘cause then you’d feel stupid)
5. put in your favorite DVD, click rip, and wait a couple hours

However, once you are done ripping you still have a problem. There really isn’t an application designed to handle, archive, rate, sort, and view movie files. Oh, I know iTunes can do it, but I think I’m being generous when I say the experience is less than optimal. It its perhaps more accurate to say that the experience sucks diseased moose wang. (Readers of the Dresden Files will appreciate the moose reference.)

I have been waiting now for a while in hopes that Apple would get its act together and create an iTunes-like application designed for video. Instead they opted to start bolting on video features to iTunes at random and call it good enough. Furthermore, it is an added insult that while Apple is quite enthusiastic about allowing one to rip music, they seem quite hesitant to do the same for movies, thus requiring one to search for a 3rd party alternative like HandBrake. I have nothing against HandBrake mind you, I think it is a wonderful application that fills a vital need. However, it shouldn’t even exist because this functionality should have been added by Apple years ago.

And that kind of brings me back to the title of this post. Just so we are clear, Apple now allows its customers to watch movies on laptops, iPods, and now cellphones. You can make homemade movies in HD! You can wirelessly stream movies to your TV using AppleTV. And there are even rumors of a portable tablet which will no doubt have video playing capabilities. And yet in spite of all that, Apple still refuses to allow its users an easy way to fully use the content they already own. Am I the only one who has a problem with this?


  • and not a word from the author of the article….
    this site has developed some serious credibility issues in the last few months…..seriously

    serveblunted had this to say on Dec 11, 2007 Posts: 8
  • The idea that we will all do the same with DVD’s is the reason it is illegal.

    Cough.  Bullshit.  Cough.

    DRM on either music or movies has nothing to do with piracy…well, almost nothing.  DRM is about controlling the medium.  One of the reasons the studios and labels look so forward to digital distribution is so that they can do what they always wanted to do, rape you every time you want to watch a movie or listen to a song.

    The labels and studios are trying to get legislation passed that would essentially get rid of fair use.  They don’t want you ripping your CDs just like they don’t want you ripping DVDs (Sony tried to implement this with disastrous results).  They want you to BUY digital versions of the songs, not get them for free.  That is what DRM is all about.  Without it, you get to exercise your fair use rights.  And the studios and labels don’t like it.

    Let’s say you want Spider-man 3 on Blu-ray, but you also want a copy to tote around with you on your iPod.  Without DRM, you’d be able to rip it, downsize it, and load it into iTunes.  There’s be third-party software that made this process simple and quick.

    But why would the studios let you do this when they could charge you twice to own the same movie?  They’d much rather charge you for the Blu-ray disc and charge you again for the iTunes version of the movie.

    And Apple, as the exclusive carrier of the iPod DRM, benefits as well.

    Of course, DRM makes that all possible.  And that’s exactly how Apple, Sony, Microsoft, Warner Music, Universal, et al, want it.  DRM means that they get to dictate how you listen to music and watch movies, not you.  And they want to get as close to a pay-per-view model as they possibly can.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Dec 11, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • Tod,  in regards to why he remarked that he sold his music to lesbians is to distract from the fact that his previous writings have shown him to be a bigot towards homosexuals.  The fact that he bothered to mention it here just goes to reinforce that fact.

    I didn’t want to mention it because Hadley set things right, but I’m afraid this hate will creep back into the site.

    foofa had this to say on Dec 11, 2007 Posts: 7
  • I personally would rather see the removal of region encoding on DVD in Apple computers. How ridiculous it is that I can transport my MacBook to Hong Kong, but not play a Region 3 DVD bought there legally on my region-locked DVD drive. A region free drive with a bunch of external hard disks is the solution. Especially now that Front Row will see ripped VIDEO_TS folders.

    I guessing the author of this piece is a little too dim to work this out, and really wants to see his DVDs in a sub-par quality, otherwise he would just get MacTheRipper, rip the main feature from each DVD and play it in Apple’s own DVD Player.app.

    Seeing he ripped then sold his CDs, I bet they were at a quality below 320kbps too!

    evilcat had this to say on Dec 12, 2007 Posts: 66
  • I’m sure that Apple will think it’s cool to rip DVDs when it is no longer illegal to do so.  It is a shame that consumers are not allowed to legally make copies for personal use of their DVDs as they are with their CDs, but those are the laws at the moment. Don’t like it? Write your congressman, not Steve Jobs.

    lgbtech had this to say on Dec 24, 2007 Posts: 2
  • It is a shame that consumers are not allowed to legally make copies for personal use of their DVDs as they are with their CDs, but those are the laws at the moment.

    It is not the law that Apple include DRM with its video files, preventing you from making legit backup copies or burning a DVD from them - but they do it anyway.  Steve Jobs is hardly blameless.  He is as guilty of propagating DRM and of eroding consumer rights as anyone.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Dec 24, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • Hidden deeply within the briefs of Virgin Records et. al, v. Jammie Thomas, you discover how the recording industry really feels about people ripping CDs.

    As reported by Marc Fisher of the Washington Post:

    At the Thomas trial in Minnesota, Sony BMG’s chief of litigation, Jennifer Pariser, testified that “when an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song.” Copying a song you bought is “a nice way of saying ‘steals just one copy,’ ” she said.

    The media companies have long dreamed of overturning the Betamax ruling, but they have discovered that DRM works even better.

    Now, the tragedy of this article written by Stoup is that his article gives ammunition to the RIAA, MPAA, et. al, to argue that they’re losing vast amounts of money to people who, like James, casually infringes copyright, and that everybody must be punished by removing various fair uses and conveniences. Do you really want to lose the ability to watch videos on PCs and iPods w/out paying an additional fee?

    SterlingNorth had this to say on Dec 31, 2007 Posts: 121
  • I misread the article above… the briefing referred to above was in a different case. It was Atlantic Records et. al. v. Jeffrey Howell, but the contours are the same. He was brought up on charges of copyright infringement by using Kazaa, but in the brief, the RIAA is trying to argue that the mere fact of ripping a CD is illegal.

    SterlingNorth had this to say on Jan 01, 2008 Posts: 121
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