Why I will be remastering my childrens’ DVDs

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There’s been much discussion of the UK’s archaic copyright laws as I’ve questioned the need for DRM and written about ripping DVDs and converting between multimedia formats. I’ve also criticised the BBC for it’s substandard iPlayer service (even if it does now stream content it still doesn’t allow offline playback on all platforms and, when it does, the DRM on the offline content is overly-restrictive). Well, here’s another example of DRM madness brought to me by the BBC – this time it’s a menu system on a legally purchased DVD.

My children don’t watch a lot of television, but there is one programme, In The Night Garden…, that is almost guaranteed to attract my three-year-old’s attention for a full 30 minutes (believe me, that is an achievement) and also provides a fair amount of delight for my one-year-old (I have to confess that I enjoy it too). It’s a very gentle programme, perfect for a spot of post-lunchtime relaxation, or for winding down before stories and bed. So, there we were, trying to calm down an overtired and slightly poorly little boy who was desperate to see Igglepiggle in the Night Garden and who doesn’t understand the idea of a TV schedule, when we decided that the DVD we had bought the boys for Christmas would be better used right away (and at least give us the chance to prepare a meal for the little people before a sleep).

On went the TV and the DVD player, in went the disc, I pressed the play button and was greeted with 2 and a quarter minutes of loud, high energy trailers for other childrens’ programming from the BBC. I tried to skip the trailers and to go straight to the menu but all attempts were greeted with a message that said “operation currently prohibited by the disc”. Now I can understand making me watch the legal notices, but forcing me to watch the trailers (on a DVD intended for children) is wrong. So I will be ripping the programmes from that DVD and re-recording them to disc without the menus, trailers, or anything else. In effect, BBC Worldwide is forcing me to break the copyright on a DVD that I have legally purchased – just to avoid the advertising.

I would complain to BBC Worldwide, but they only publish a postal address (no e-mail) for contact, so I can’t be bothered. And writing to Points of View won’t help either! In the meantime, I’ll leave my complaint on the Internet for any other prospective childrens’ DVD purchasers to consider…

5 thoughts on “Why I will be remastering my childrens’ DVDs

  1. Hear, hear – I do exactly the same. I have been copying all of my children’s DVDs for some time as young children are not the most careful at handling DVDs….

    I am currently looking at an alternative solution though. I have a Vista Ultimate PC in one room, and an XBox 360 in the living room. This hardware combination in conjunction with suitable software results in a great solution for storing and streaming DVDs. I am always to make the process as simple as possible. Here is the software I use:

    AnyDVD automatically removes the copy protection from DVDs
    VideoRedo TVSuite rips them to DVR-MS files at the original quality, retaining 5.1 audio
    My Movies allows for elegant browsing and searching of films via the Media Center Extender functionality of the XBox 360.

    Neither AnyDVD nor TVSuite are free, but after spending many hours over many months trying to establish a freeware based solution, I believe it is money well spent.

    I currently have 10 DVDs stored this way, and will be adding the remainder of my collection over the coming weeks. It is a space intensive solution as no transcoding is involved (just a change in container format), but it is quick and gives no quality degradation.

  2. Hi Richard – good to hear from you. And thanks for the tips. I intend to drag my family’s viewing into the digital age sometime this year and this will all come in very useful! Cheers, Mark

  3. Yep, same here I rip them all for the same purpose as Richard. Although I haven’t yet done it to remove the ‘prohibited operations’ they are VERY frustrating. I guess part of the cost of the DVD is recouped through the compulsory advertising but anyone who has kids knows that one DVD can be watched a 100 times or more, easy, and all those 2.25 minutes add-up.

    The depressing thing is that the BBC indulges in this practice when you’d think it would be more immune to these sorts of pressures.

  4. You think BBC is bad. Buy a Disney DVD (my adult son has just send me Ratatouille), and you get more like 10 mins of high pressure selling and trailors. It is brainwashing children and infuriating people like me,

  5. Yes – have to agree that it’s annoying. Whenever I want to watch a DVD I put it in the player some time before I’m ready to sit down and watch it, so it can skip by all the padding at the start.

    I can imagine that a child will be less happy to wait, though!

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