Why Can’t I Rip DVDs to My iPod?

Simpsons_movLegally, that is.

This is my annoyance of the moment: Why are DVDs a DRM-locked proprietary platform? When I purchase one, why can’t I use this on a convenient, portable device such as my iPod?

What a pain in the arse it is to rip a DVD: Frist, you need to use several products (MP4
, Handbrake, Ripper); 2nd, it takes forever. 3rd, and its illegal to do so.

What brought this about recently was The Simpson’s Movie — actually, more  of an extended 90 minute episode. I saw it with my nephews (with me snoozing thru parts of it).

However, going through the extras, I started listening to producer/writer commentary. Unbelievably entertaining stuff, like a terrific radio show with several very funny people cracking each other up. I would have liked to put on the iPod for the train, but no such luck.


I can rip the basic movie, but not the special audio commentary. Anyone have a clue how to do that?



The Complete Guide to Converting DVDs to iPod Format
Jerrod Hofferth
iLounge, November 21, 2005

Rip DVDs To Your Mac To View On AppleTV And iPod.
Alexis Kayhill
Mac360, Friday, April 13, 2007

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Gari N. Corp commented on Mar 5

    Here, I think, is a really time consuming and unwieldy way. Rip a DVD using mactheripper, then burn a DVD using a DVD burner like Roxio’s popcorn, which should allow you to select your language (I’m guessing the commentary would be encoded like an alternative language would be). Then rip this DVD using handbrake direct to an mp4 file and load onto your ipod. You’ll have the video there too, mind, and you may even have broken the law twice, but it would work. Handbrake might have a more elegant solution, but I’m suggesting this from memory.

  2. Gary commented on Mar 5

    So you just want audio right? I’ve not tried this and this is not an endorsement, but I found this – http://dvd-mp3.org/index.html. I may give it a try too ’cause I like the idea.

  3. Shnaps commented on Mar 5

    Try “Avex DVD Ripper Platinum”; there is a freeware trial download out there somewhere. I think I found it on zdnet.com. It was the best one out of about 6 or 7 I tried.

  4. Jim D commented on Mar 5

    Handbrake lets you select the audio track, as well as whatever alternate scenes…

    Unfortunately, you can only get access to them by guessing.

    Sometimes, you’ll find that someone posted the information already via Google.

    A quick search by me didn’t turn up such a description.

    For what you want, one of the alternate soundtracks in Handbrake is what you want – usually, their language is listed. I’d pick the 2nd one labeled english.

    Hope this helps. Yes this sucks.

  5. sujal commented on Mar 5

    second the mactheripper endorsement. It lets you select the audio track you want. VisualHub is my encoder (takes teh ripped DVD and turns it into whatever you want). During both steps you can select individual audio tracks to rip down. MacTheRipper can also demux the audio (just rip it by itself) from the VOB files.

    This is all on the mac.

    I’ve been steadily encoding all of my movies so I can play it downstairs on the AppleTV and/or my XBox 360. Takes a long time, but it’s worth it when I can just fire up anything I own without finding the DVD. Ultimate couch potato. :)

    DRM is evil, really. It serves no market enhancing purpose, and simply pisses people off: http://www.fatmixx.com/2007/12/10/the-temptation-to-become-a-law-breaker-1-xbox-360-1-mac-1-tv-add-connect-360-and-leave-your-dvds-in-the-closet/

  6. NDP commented on Mar 5

    Use DVD Shrink v3.2.0.15. You can rip any DVD to any output file size/quality.

  7. anon commented on Mar 5

    I’ve heard (:-)) that DVDDecrypter works fine – even for dual and double layer DVDs ; there’s an error message during burns that can be ignored. Dunno about the IPOD side though.

  8. Rob Dawg commented on Mar 5

    Data wants to be free. We need T-Shirts:

    Free “The Simpsons” 37,600,000,000 (Bytes)

  9. philip commented on Mar 5

    Because that is the deal. If you wanted to buy rights to use the stuff more openly you’d have to pay more than $20. The current price is a trade-off between what customers want to get and what they are willing to pay. Stealing is stealing. Don’t make up some reason why you get to be exempt from property rights. I don’t like it either, but thems the breaks.


    BR: Philip, I don’t follow. I bought the DVD — Where don’t I have the right to play my content purchase?

    I can watch it in the living room, or with a bulky portable DVD player anywhere — same for a laptop — but not an iPod?!?

    That makes no sense whatsoever.

    What is my limitation? Is it the location (no), the hardware (partially), the format (also partially), or the manufacturer (sort of)

  10. anonymouse commented on Mar 5

    anydvd plus clonedvd mobile–both come with trial periods and will allow you to pick and choose which parts of the dvd you want to rip.

    Anydvd is simply a driver that decrypts so you still need CloneDVD mobile to actually convert to Ipod format. Great tools.

  11. JasRas commented on Mar 5

    Got both Mac the Ripper and Handbrake. Both allow the rip of all the tracks on a DVD, including audio. My experience is that this process has gotten faster over the past year, but maybe I’ve just gotten used to the slowness. Part of the slowness is b/c of defeating whatever anti-piracy software they are using… It is much much easier than it was a few years ago, though.

  12. Don commented on Mar 5

    Has Philip never heard of fair use?

  13. Rock commented on Mar 5

    Aye-Aye, Cap’n.

    Take a look at DVDFab software. Platinum
    version will create copy for iPod. And you
    can choose your sound track. I have used the software and it’s pretty good. Haven’t used the iPod feature. Never got around to getting an iPod, my Windows Mobile phone (Imate KJAM) carries my music just fine.
    I’m presuming you want video and soundtrack for your iPod. Soundtrack only may take some work.
    DVDDecrypter WAS good. It’s no longer being developed and is therefore not keeping up with new DVD protections.
    But I like DVDDecrypter for burning ISO files.

  14. Rock commented on Mar 5

    Sorry, meant to include the URL.
    (No, I don’t work for them or make a dime from them.)

  15. Invisible Larry commented on Mar 5

    If you just want the audio, get and install Audacity (open source free.) Play the DVD or CD or whatever. Press record on Audacity and it will capture whatever is playing through your sound card. Save as MP3.

    get it here: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

  16. Dino commented on Mar 5

    Of some import — when I buy a DVD why can’t I at least fast forward through the piracy warnings, disclaimers (“the opinions expressed in this DVD do not necessarily reflect the views of this studio, etc.”), trailers, and ads to get to the object of my purchase, the MOVIE?

  17. Bob A commented on Mar 5

    It is endlessly amazing to me that a country allows 10 million illegal immigrants do pretty much whatever they want is all law and orderish over copying a dvd.

  18. Chief Elf commented on Mar 5

    Why would anyone buy a restricted MP3 player? Must be the logo or a sincere desire to massively overpay to support Steve Jobs hobbies.

    There are excellent MP3s that have no DRM restrictions for which CDs, DVDs, etc. can be easily ripped. Must be too much money chasing a status symbol.

  19. Nick commented on Mar 5

    “Stealing is stealing. Don’t make up some reason why you get to be exempt from property rights. I don’t like it either, but thems the breaks.”

    And which property is his stealing phillip. The reality is that content producers have made the whole consumption process difficult and confusing because they’ve attempted to create a frankenstein style environment where purchasers are treated as licensees without their knowledge or notice.

    Barry: as many others have said you need to use your DVD ripping program to extract all the audio files. Encode them all to a suitable format and determine which one includes the audio commentary. Add that to your ipod and profit. I’m fairly sure that you can’t have multiple audio tracks on ipod videos so there’s probably no point trying that.

  20. sebastianz commented on Mar 5

    my biggest pet peeve (same category) is that if you scratch a CD, there should be a way to return it to the manufacturer and obtain a new one for a much smaller fee, right? that is, i should be able to get a new CD for what i paid for the original CD minus the property rights component. why not?

  21. Walker commented on Mar 5

    Philip’s comments are one extreme, but they do raise an interesting question. When you buy a DVD, what are you buying? Are you buying a physical entity with which you can do anything with the contents? Or are you buying a license that only allows you to use the content in restricted ways? To understand the difficulty of this question, consider the CD which (we think) is much clear cut.

    Certainly you cannot do anything you want with the contents of a CD. I cannot make a copy to an iPod and then sell the CD to someone else. But the interesting issue is that if you try to prohibit this by claiming a CD is only a license, the the real problem is with reselling the CD. And that is the attitude that software makers take with software.

    But music companies did not clamp down on second-hand CD stores, and so culturally, we now think of CDs like books. We have purchased the physical medium, which is subject to the “first-sale” doctrine. With a book I can do anything I want with the contents: cut them up, make them into a collage, whatever. And so, our society thinks, it is with a CD.

    As a result, digitial media has this schizophrenic existence.

  22. jkw commented on Mar 5

    The reason it is so difficult is that nobody cares enough to get it changed. The movie and music industries have spent lots of money and time lobbying congress to write horrible copyright laws. Most people have never spoken to their representatives about copyright. When only one side is speaking, they get to dictate the laws.

    I’ve written to my congressman and both senators at least twice asking why we have such horribly unfair copyright laws (that are also contrary to what the constitution provides as a justification for copyright). How many times have you?

    So long as it is legal and doesn’t turn off too many customers, the companies will keep doing it. How many people do you know that won’t buy DVD’s because of the restrictions? You knew that this would be a problem when you bought the DVD, but you bought it anyway.

  23. BayAreaGuy commented on Mar 5

    “I can rip the basic movie, but not the special audio commentary. Anyone have a clue how to do that?”

    Uhm, I didn’t read through the other comments but, try a microphone and a tape recorder.


    BR: And the Oscar for the least helpful comment on the internet goes to . . . the envelope please . . . BayAreaGuy!

    Congratulations! This comment is utterly worthless! You must be so proud . . .

  24. Freedom57 commented on Mar 5

    I use Roxio “Easy Media Creator” 9 suite which contains an audio capture programme entitled “Easy Audio Capture”. It captures the sound from your computer sound card, and truly is easy. I find it useful for recording lectures, etc. that are not available as an .mp3 download, and then transfer them to a portable device.

  25. TN_Guy commented on Mar 6

    you could also try…put the dvd into your computer dvd player….in windows explorer select the “.vob” files from the dvd and copy them to a temp directory on your harddrive. Remove the DVD from player. On the temp folder re-name the vob file ext to “.avi”. Double click it or open it in windows media player 11. Media playe will say” This may not play” say play it. It should play…from here you can determine where your audio is (in what vob file) and more software can handle .avi files than vobs. I do not have nor know how to get on to an ipod but this may help make the file you want identifiable and a format (avi) easier to work with.

  26. Ali Saygin commented on Mar 6

    download vlc from http://www.videolan.org

    Play your DVD from vlc with stream/save options to dump whichever transcoding, audiocoding options you want to a local file. Once you play the DVD tracks (the ones you want, it could make a copy of the video or the audio for a future use.

    Windows Media Player, RealPlayer still doesn’t match the stream/save capabilities of VLC.

  27. John H. Farr commented on Mar 6

    I can’t believe all the complicated suggestions! No need to rip anything, just use something like Audio Hijack to record the system audio while you play the DVD. There’s even a setting for “Recording from DVDs” (AAC, 192 kbps, stereo). You can save a recording as MP3s or AIFFs, too. Easy!


  28. Darkness commented on Mar 6

    This is why we have a mythtv (www.mythtv.org) box now instead of a tivo. It sits in the basement with the cable line plugged in. We have a little solid state box that feeds the tv in the bedroom. We can watch a stream on any laptop or computer in the house. And the shows are recoded automatically for ipod and can be subscribed to on itunes from our personal house ipod service.

    I have no idea how most people get stuff onto the ipod, really.

    Oh, as a desperation measure, I’ve used snapz pro, but that’s mac. Captures anything you want off the audio card and the video card. ‘Course at that point, you’ll have already watched it.

  29. harvey commented on Mar 6

    use AoA Audio Extractor—-freeware, quick, great quality

  30. Aaron commented on Mar 6

    The real tragedy is that legitimate businesses which want to release a competitor to the Kaleidescape are prevented from doing so because of these monopoly restrictions. It may seem absurd to store DVDs on a hard drive, but there are plenty of customers who want to pay for such a product and many businesses who could make good money doing it. Sure it can be done by the DIY’er, but that’s not the same thing by a long shot.

  31. OhNoNotAgain commented on Mar 6

    “Philip never heard of fair use?”

    Apparently. :-)

    We have this same issue in the software industry, and my small software company simply decided that any “theft” would be written off as a “marketing expense”. We weren’t going to stop those that were determined to get a copy of our product for free, and any money spent on such efforts, up and above simple access restrictions for downloads from our web site, was simply throwing money down a hole. Ultimately, such efforts end up pissing off the good customers also since it gives the impression that you are lumping those that paid for the product in with those that seek to use the product for free.

    Finally, remember that we’re talking bits and bytes here. There really is no “cost” associated with someone using the product for free, especially if you, the vendor, are not providing the physical media or distribution. The “value” that someone seeks to pay for with these types of products is the creativity and efforts that go into the product. In other words, if people want to see more of something, believe the price is fair value, and have the disposable income, then they will find a way to pay for it. We’re just now starting to see real exploration into new ways of allowing them to do so (“Radiohead distribution model”) without limiting those that, at least initially, do not.

  32. Will commented on Mar 6

    1. RCA cable with RCA plugs on one end, 3.5mm stereo plug on other — connect DVD player to Line In on computer.

    2. Open any sound recording program, even the Start> Programs> Accessories> Windows Sound Recorder

    3. Start recording, press play on DVD player, whichever audio you want.

    4. When done, save your audio file, edit and/or convert to mp3 if you wish.

  33. Dogwood commented on Mar 6

    I believe it was Fox who announced at this year’s Macworld that they would begin putting iPod and iTunes viewable files on their DVDs so you could watch their movies on whatever device you want to use.

    Hopefully the other studios will join in the fun.

  34. Mook commented on Mar 6

    “Because that is the deal. If you wanted to buy rights to use the stuff more openly you’d have to pay more than $20. The current price is a trade-off between what customers want to get and what they are willing to pay.”

    As this is, to some degree, an economics blog I thought I’d point out the economic fallacy of Phillip’s statement.

    We have data that put a ceiling on the value of these “rights” that Philip mentions. Look no further than iTunes, which sells / sold thousands of identical songs both with and without DRM protection.

    The ones with DRM retail for 99 cents; the ones without retailed for $1.29 upon their introduction. That’s a 30% price premium.

    If this price premium was LESS than its true value to users, we would have expected sales of the dearer-priced versions of these songs to have massively outweighed the cheaper version.

    But that didn’t happen. Quite the opposite, in fact: after several months of this experiment, Apple cut the price of these DRM-free songs to … 99 cents.

    The market told Apple in no uncertain terms that the appropriate price premium assigned by customers to “the rights” you referenced in your post was … effectively zero.

    But, really, why let the facts interfere?


  35. wally commented on Mar 6

    Some advice you don’t want: just get off that crap. You don’t need to watch movies, you don’t need to watch TV, they add nothing to your life compared to the alternative things you could be doing, If somebody wants to screw around concocting ways to sell you something you cannot use as you’d like… don’t buy it.

  36. salesanalyst commented on Mar 6

    DVD Shrink does the trick for me. Takes everything off of a DVD, even encoded one, and puts it, audio and video, into folders. You can disable the ‘create .vob, etc’ feature if you’re not going to re-burn a ‘back-up’ copy. And it’s freeware.

    You do know about Videohelp don’t you? All your questions are answered there – http://www.videohelp.com/

  37. yoshi commented on Mar 6

    @Chief Elf

    There is a difference between DRM’d content and players. iPods can play unprotected contact. iTunes sells unprotected content. So before you bash something – why don’t you do a little research first.


    Gee – what do you suggest as alternatives?

  38. notusingmyusualhandle commented on Mar 6

    Lots of good advice in here. I do this on Windows, and my own procedure is as follows (Google for the software titles mentioned):

    1. Open RipIt4Me, use the wizard on the Full DVD setting, go through all of the steps (one of which requires DVDDecrypter)
    2. When prompted to “Open in DVDShrink” do so
    3. Reauthor the DVD with all English audio tracks (disable compression), noting the details of the audio tracks (see below)
    4. Trash the original Full DVD rip done with RipIt4Me/DVDDecrypter
    5. Open in AutoGK, configure, Add, Start

    DVDDecrypter might be a light challenge to find, as its original publisher nastygrammed its author with a demand to cease distribution. However, when I reinstalled Windows six weeks ago I didn’t have any trouble finding it.

    With respect to the audio tracks, a disc with commentary will typically have two or three English tracks with the same length: zero or one 5.1ch track, and one or two 2ch tracks. The second 2ch track will be your commentary. With any luck, it will be explicitly labelled as such.

    Encoding the soundtrack is done early in the process, and since it’s done with MP3 you can play back the file long before it’s finished. When in doubt you can scan through the first couple of minutes of encoded audio and, if you have the wrong track, restart the process with another track.

    Some probably wonder why I use such a circuitous process; RipIt4Me does an excellent job of clobbering any weird audio offset/sync problems, while DVDShrink breaks out TV episodes into their own titlesets when the disc is re-authored (which simplifies the process of getting those squared away).

    The genuinely curious can also use Google-fu find out why h.264 is so resource-intensive to encode.

  39. Handleman commented on Mar 6

    Has Philip never heard of fair use?

    Or “supply and demand”?

  40. jz commented on Mar 6

    Barry, what you want is something I do all the time. I use imtoo DVD ripper platinum.

    You create a file in your C drive and name it Simpsons movie and then open the imtoo program. You then tell the program to copy files to the Simpsons movie file. You next decide what file format you want (in this case Ipod mp4 640 X 480). You then place the DVD in your computer DVD player, hit the DVD button on the imtoo program and it shows you every file on the DVD. You then check which files you want and click the record button. It usually takes about an hour to rip the DVD.

    You then create a Simpsons Movie folder on your Ipod in Itunes and copy and paste from the Simpsons Movie folder in your C drive. It is really easy.

    One other thing: while everyone is going ga ga over the bigger screen on the Ipod touch, for $70, you can buy Sonic’s v55 player which has a 7″ screen. You click the Ipod into the Sonic’s slot and have a much bigger screen to watch. This player only works with video Ipod.

    I carry a 60 GB video Ipod with me when I travel, and it has about 70 movies on it. I get about five hours of charge with it and the Sonic. It beats the heck out of a DVD player or a bulky laptop on long trips. GLTY.

  41. DEM commented on Mar 10

    I’ll second the recommendation of DVDFab Platinum. I’ve been using it to put DVDs onto my iPod Touch–and it’s been very easy for me, a technical klutz if ever there was one, to do. I’ve also used the software for blowing past regional codes, which, if you spend much time going back and forth from Europe and the U.S., are a major (and incomprehensibly pointless) pain in the butt.

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