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Top 5 Reasons To Rip Your DVD Movies

Question: I'd like to convert my favorite commercial DVD movies into video format, so that I can view them from my laptop or desktop computer. Preferably in a format that I can send to my iPhone when I get one (it's on my Christmas list), or to an iPod video. I'd also like to make backup copies of my movies. Is this legal, and how can I do it?

Answer: Converting DVD to video is called ripping, which also includes unencrypting the copy-protection embedded in commercial DVD movies. The resulting video file will be about 1 GB in size or less, and will have a .mp4 file extension. It will be viewable in Quicktime, Media Player and most other video players, and can be burned back to a writable DVD using DVD burning software.

If you're ripping movies that you've paid for (and not pirating a rental movie) and are using the ripped videos for your own personal use or to protect your investment by making backup copies, then I don't see how that could be illegal.

I'm not a lawyer though, so you'll need to read up on the copyright laws in your country to determine the legality of doing this. I found the copyright laws in the United States confusing at best, and conflicting with fair usage laws.

I also found that many DVD rippers like Roxio and Nero aren't able to rip commercial DVDs. Apparently they have removed this ability to avoid potential law suits from Hollywood. However, software made outside of the US and sold online is not affected by these concerns, and I did a recent review of several high quality DVD rippers that are able to convert commercial DVDs to video format.

Here are my top 5 reasons for ripping copies of my DVD movies:

  1. Make backups

    Now that I've built a small collection of DVD movies for my family, I've noticed that a couple of the more frequently viewed films have become scratched.

    Take The Incredibles for example - an animated action hero flick from Pixar that our family loves to watch (I have it almost completely memorized because I've seen it so many times). Every time it gets to chapter 11, it pauses for a few seconds and then skips back to the start of the movie. This is incredibly frustrating (pardon the pun)!

    I'd like to make backup copies of my other DVDs so I can continue to enjoy them with my family. In fact, ideally I'd like to just view the backup copies and keep the originals in their pristine, unscratched condition.

  2. Leave the DVDs at home

    If I'm going on a long trip, the last thing I want to do is pack along a handful of DVDs. Converting them to video format means they're right on my computer, and hard drives are plenty large enough these days to store dozens of movies in mp4 video format.

  3. Save laptop batter power

    Movies running from memory on your hard drive consume a lot less battery power than movies running off your DVD player (where moving parts are required to spin the DVD).

    You'll get extended battery life watching movies that have been converted to video format and are running from your hard drive instead of your DVD player.

  4. Take still shots of your favorite movie scenes

    Ever wish you could take a picture of your favorite movie scene or make a wallpaper of your favorite celebrity in that perfect shot? DVD converter software from XiliSoft lets you take still shots of your movies as fast as you can click the mouse, and automatically saves them as images in a folder of your choosing.

  5. Because you can!

    I own these movies and you own yours. We paid for them with our own hard-earned money. We're not copying them to sell or give away to our friends. We just want to preserve my investment by making backup copies, and we should be able to do that without hassle from government, movie producers, or software/hardware limitations.

If you'd like to rip copies of your favorite movies, be sure to check out my review of several high quality DVD rippers that will make it easy to do.

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