Why Should I Pay for DVD Copy Software?

Every day thousands of consumers scour the Internet via Google, Yahoo and MSN to find information on the best DVD copy software. By the time consumers finish researching this topic, they are often more confused than they were at the start. This blog entry is intended to explore some issues that are not addressed in many of the forums or review sites and to provide some clarity on the choices currently available in the market…from free DVD copy freeware programs to fully supported retail programs.

In the late 1990’s, when DVD technology was first introduced into the market, commercial DVDs were (and are still today) shipped with a form of copy protection called “CSS”. The Content Scramble System (CSS) is a Digital Rights Management (DRM) scheme used on almost all commercially produced DVD-Video discs. In order for computer users to make a backup copy of a CSS-protected DVD, they must first remove CSS protection (i.e. “rip”) the video content off the source DVD disc onto a computer hard drive, then the computer will process and likely compress this digital video content, and then burn the digital video back onto a blank DVDR disc in a DVD burner. The resulting DVD backup copy no longer has CSS copy-protection and can be played back on a computer or a set-top DVD player. This is an over-simplified version of a very complex set of processes, but for the average consumer it is a solid overview.

Most retail versions of DVD copy software do not include CSS ripping technology. This means you can copy unprotected DVD discs, such as those you create with a camcorder, but these programs will not copy commercial DVDs without some type of third party “ripping” program. In 2001, a startup company named 321 Studios tried to develop and market software programs that included a DVD copy software program with a CSS ripper. The company justified selling its “DVD X Copy” products by claiming that consumers have the right to make backup copies (of movies they own or create) for personal use. The Hollywood studios sued the developers of DVDXCopy and the company was shut down. While it has been ruled in the USA that companies cannot develop, sell, market or support technology that violate a law called the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act), it is not necessarily illegal for consumers to make personal copies of copyrighted materials as provided under the Fair Use provision of the Copyright Act of 1976. In other words, consumers can buy and copy DVD movies that they own, but companies in the United States cannot sell DVD copy software with CSS-ripping technology. Post DVDXCOPY, the market has addressed this issue by developing, marketing and supporting DVD burning software without CSS rippers. These software companies then provide indirect guidance to public domain rippers that seamlessly integrate into the DVD burning software program. In other words, you can buy a legal DVD copying software program, locate, download and make a one-time installation of one of the many 3rd party De-CSS programs, and you will then have a fully integrated, seamless DVD burning and ripping program that can copy ANY DVD movie. As with the technical process described above, the legal issues are interesting and complex, and will be addressed later in a subsequent blog entry.

The good news is that for commercial DVDs that only have CSS copy protection, consumers most likely do not need to pay for any additional software. Most Windows-based computer systems are bundled with some type of standard CD & DVD burning software. All you then need to do is find a free DVD ripper and you will be able to copy most of the older commercial DVD movie releases. The downside to “free” DVD copying is that this will be a several-to-many step process and there is no customer support so you will have to find online guides and forums to learn the process as well as help you to resolve DVD ripping and/or burning session failures.

The biggest problem with free DVD software solutions is that almost all new releases of DVD movies include CSS copy-protection, as well as potentially dozens of new “add-on” copy protection schemes designed to prevent copying of DVD movies. Additionally, newer protection schemes are developed by the Hollywood studios on a regular basis that are designed to make the DVD copying process as difficult as possible. DVD burning software programs that include or are used in conjunction with a free CSS ripper WILL NOT copy a DVD movie with these extra protections. Some of the more well known CSS add-on copy protection methods and technologies include:

• Illegal or Bad Sectors
• RipGuard
• SecuROM
• SafeDisc
• Sony ARccOS
• TAGES

In this way, each new release of DVD movie has become like a computer “virus” in that the DVD copy software needs to be updated in real-time, just like anti-virus software, in order for consumers to be able to copy the latest DVD releases. The best DVD burning software programs now include a “heuristic” notification feature that is very similar to anti-virus software in that they instantly notify users through the software program interface (in real time) that the programs should be updated via an instant download. The better the program support and frequency of updates, the higher the rate for DVD copying and burning success.

In conclusion, YES, you should consider buying a fully supported, frequently updated DVD copy software program. This is now the only way to guarantee that you can quickly, easily and seamlessly one-click copy all DVD movies, including the latest releases. There are literally dozens of DVD copy software products on the market. DVD X Copy used to be the best but is now obsolete. The best DVD burning programs on the market today are 1 Click DVD Copy (easiest) and DVD next Copy Pro (the best). These two developers sell the largest volume of CSS-integrated DVD copying products and therefore maintain the largest development teams and testing & support staffs, enabling them to sell products with the highest rate of burning success for the newest DVD movies. There are many other retail programs out there, but you will need to wait longer (sometimes MUCH longer) to be able to copy new movies. To learn more about retail DVD burning programs, check out the best DVD burning software.

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Best DVD Copy & Burning Software – The Rise, Fall & Replacement of DVD X Copy

What ever happened DVDXCopy? DVD X Copy was the DVD copy software that started it all and was eventually banned for sale by the Hollywood studios. This infamous product line, created by 321 Studios, was the first mainstream movie burning software program that enabled novice computer users to copy any DVD movie. If you run a Google search on “DVD X Copy” or “321 Studios”, you will find dozens of articles from USA Today, PC World, PC Magazine, Newsweek, etc. that chronicled the rise and fall of 321 Studios. Many of these articles are still posted at the DVDXCopy.com website. Prior to the creation of this product line, DVD copying was a relatively difficult process and outside of the reach of the average consumer. This difficulty was related to the fact that most commercial DVD movies include Content Scrambling System (CSS), a copy-protection technology designed to prevent movies from being copied. These products included the technology required to decrypt the CSS copy protection mechanism on movie discs. Additionally, the company was able to create a product that handled the complex processes of ripping, copying, transcoding, compressing and burning to a blank Digital Video Disc in one easy point-and-click program. These products were highly popular and sold in all major global retail channels and online via the company’s website and to this day DVD X Copy Platinum is regarded as the best DVD burning software titles of all time.

321 Studios was established in 1999 in St. Charles, Mo. and almost since its inception, the company was hampered by controversy. Although these video burning products were highly popular with consumers, the major Hollywood studios claimed that DVDXCopy violated copyright rights. Anticipating a lawsuit by the Hollywood studios, the company filed a pre-emptive complaint in April of 2002 against eight Hollywood studios. 321 Studios contended that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (“DMCA”, a law that prohibits the circumvention of CSS copy protection technology) violates consumer’s Fair Use rights as described in Copyright Act of 1976 under the doctrine of “Fair Use”. Specifically, the Fair Use provision gives individuals limited rights to copy certain types of copyrighted material. The lawsuit included MGM Studios, Tristar Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Time Warner Entertainment, Disney Enterprises, Universal City Studios, The Saul Zaentz Company and Pixar Corporation as defendants.

In May of 2003, seven of the Hollywood studios (MGM Studios, Tristar Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Time Warner Entertainment, Disney, Universal City Studios and The Saul Zaentz Company) counter-sued 321 Studios, claiming that these DVD backup products violated the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

In the end (on February 23, 2004) Judge Susan Illston of the Northern District Federal Court for California ruled that these products violated the DMCA and ordered an injunction that stopped the sale of DVD X Copy products in the United States. The company proceeded to remove all products from the US retail stores and from the company’s official DVD copy software website. The ruling caused the company to shut down with the company finally shutting its doors in August of 2004.

Similar to the way the legal “death” of music downloading website Napster spawned the creation of dozens of new file sharing sites, the death of DVD X Copy has spawned the creation of dozens of new ripping and burning programs. There are several mainstream software products that claim to copy copy-protected movies – namely from companies like Nero, Roxio (Creator, Toast) and Corel (DVD Copy 6). These products, however, are more for burning data and music to blank DVD and CD discs and are not recommended for copying commercial movies. They are not pure DVD and video burning products and do not have an integrated ripper for users to bypass or circumvent CSS. In terms of pure one-click software products, literally dozens of programs have emerged as potential replacements for DVD X Copy. Some of these software programs include DVD next Copy, 1 Click DVD Copy, DVD Cloner, DVD Fab Platinum, ICopyDVDs2, CloneDVD and many more. Of these products, only two have emerged as true successors to DVDXCopy and the two best DVD copy software programs are DVD next Copy and 1Click DVD Copy.

One thing is for certain: DVD X Copy is gone forever. As per the DVDXCopy.com website, there are no authentic copies of this software product in the market. Because of its popularity and continued brand recognition (even 5 years after the company closed), some consumers are still being tricked into buying old and/or cracked versions of these software products. Per 321 Studios, these programs are cracks, are not supported and will not work with Microsoft Vista no matter what claims or guarantees are provided by the sellers. If you are looking for an alternative to DVD X Copy Platinum, try DVD next Copy or 1 Click DVD copy, or even one of the more inferior products listed above before you consider buying an old version of DVD X Copy.

FYI, all of the best DVD Copy software programs are listed, ranked, reviewed and compared side-by-side a: www.dvdxcopy.com