Blu-ray, Linux, and Digital Restrictions

At my house we use Linux as our operating system almost exclusively. The only exceptions to this rule are our iPhones and an iPod Touch. Otherwise it’s all Linux on the laptops, tablets, server, GoogleTV, and firewall. Linux is simple, free, and generally as useful as Mac OSX or Windows. Occasionally there are hiccups with specific tasks such as moving music to the iPhone since Apple locks them down, but this is usually overcome within a week after any iOS update.

Recently I have begun ripping our DVD collection into digital format. My ultimate goal is to have all of our legally purchased movie titles available via GoogleTV on a portable drive. With this accomplished, we will be able to watch most of what we own without having to track down the disc and load it into the DVD/BD player. I will not pretend that this is anything but laziness, but for niceness-sake I’ll call it  convenience. Another bonus with having everything digital in addition to on disc is that we can watch it on the laptops, tablets, or even iPhones without paying again for something we already bought.

The best selling point for me in doing this other than convenience  is that we don’t have to worry about the discs becoming scratched or hazy over time. If you don’t have kids, please believe me when I say we have lost hundreds of dollars in DVDs from kids leaving discs out, dropping them, and occasionally using them as shuriken in battle. Frankly I should have been ripping our DVD purchases since we had our first player, but I did not realize how much we lose in scratched DVDs.

The backup copies of these discs are not high-quality. I am only ripping them so that we have a backup that can be used on the network or in case the physical disc meets an untimely demise. Seriously. I’m not illegally copying anything I don’t own nor am I illegally downloading the same. According to my understanding of copyright exceptions I am making a backup/archival copy of a work that I purchased legally at retail which is considered fair use, but I am not a lawyer and you should check with one before considering doing this yourself should you have concerns.

I tell you these things to tell you this – playing Blu-ray discs (BD) on Linux is very difficult and convoluted. It borders on impossible for most mortals to accomplish. I have found several loopholes and processes (and it IS a process) to play BD movies on Linux, but frankly they are all a PITA (google it). The time v  convenience is just not there for me to bother setting this up and/or attempting to rip the movies for backup.

Why might this be you ask? This is because of the movie industry using a somewhat complicated scheme (algorithm) to attempt to curb people illegally copying or stealing their work. The problem is that those who want to steal these works and distribute them can do so easily with just a little searching and clicking around the WWW. I won’t link to such things, but I found several easy ways to do so when I googled ‘copy blu ray’ a few minutes ago. The scheme by the MPAA does little to nothing except cause problems for those of us who buy movies legally. We are the people not breaking the law, and so we won’t go copy or distribute these works illegally. If one wanted to steal these works there are many, many sites where you can download the BD quality versions of most movies already. Their scheme does nothing to stop criminals.

So my choices are to sit by and wait for someone to crack BD encryption (DVD has been busted for a long time), go rent the DVD to make my backup copy, or put up with purchasing these works over and over because the MPAA wants to make more money. Well, I’ll only say that one of those options sounds somewhat reasonable, and I’m not waiting around.