Abandoned by the DVD business

I guess I’m not typical.

It’s rare for me to watch a DVD at home anymore. If I’m watching TV, it’s a basketball game, something on HDNet/Movies, or one of the HD channels, or something I Tivo’d. Typically Dave Chappelle or Law& Order.

About the only time I actually place an actual DVD into a DVD player is when it’s for my daughter.

That’s not to say I don’t want to watch DVDs, or I haven’t watched DVD’s. Ido, and I have.

I watched them in hotel rooms on my PC. I’vewatched them on my PC when I’m on a plane. Mostly, and I’m sure this was my fault for not being careful, I watched half ’till the end, the other halfuntil they stopped playing because of a scratch.

Is there anything more irritating than a scratched DVD?

So I thought I would do something about it. I have already written about how I think hard drives will have a significant part to play in how we experience and watch video content. What I hadn’t done personally was take the time to convert DVD’s I had PURCHASED to a format that could be easily stored on my new remote control sized, 80gbs Firelight.

My plan was to take the drive, stuff it with movies, and use it to launch movies I could watch on the road.

What a pain in the ass.

I used 3 different rippers. All pretty much worked in realtime. Slow. Tedius. Didn’t rip correctly every time. My dream of taking 20 or so movies on the road with me died a sad death halfway through the boredom of coming back and checking to see if Dodgeball was done.

Which leads to the “aren’t I the customer here moment,” we all have.

Why isn’t an AVI, DIVX, WMV, MOV or any format of computer usable video put on one of the DVD’s ? Anything but those pain in the ass VOB files. Most DVD’s have the less than 1gbs in space left.

It can be copy protected for those studios with Piraphobia (fear of piracy). I just need the ability to copy it 3 or 4 times (don’t want to be left off when I put it on my new250gbs mobile drive next year ).

I would even pay a premium for it…Put a sticker on the package saying this DVD has a format compatible with PC hard drives.

Better yet, you could put it online. Let me put my DVD in, it checks your website for authenticity, I give you my demographic information, you let me download a file I can put on my hard drive.

You win, the customer wins and guess what? When it comes time to buy a DVD, and it’s a toss up between the movie that makes it easy for me, the customer, vs. the one who doesn’t care about me. Guess which one I pick ?

If no one wants me as their customer, then I do more of what I’m starting to do now. I take the movies and tv shows I record from my computer based PVR and copy them to my little harddrive (in minutes for everything), and watch them on the road instead of buying your DVD’s.

Complications lose customers. Simplification getscustomers.

64 thoughts on “Abandoned by the DVD business

  1. The only time the consumer spends is finding and copying the file to a location on the hard drive. I’ve mentioned before here (and other places) I am all for space-shifting, so using the on-disc model (keep in mind reading this I’m writing from the viewpoint of a small DVD authoring/production house)-

    Comment by runescape money -

  2. Because unless you’re a big company with alot of corporate weight, they won’t even speak to you. Even large companies are being held over the barrel by record labels , we’re talking heavy hitting companies here (Walmart included).

    Comment by wow powerleveling -

  3. I just don’t have anything to say these days, but eh. Today was a total loss. Pretty much nothing seems worth bothering with. I’ve more or less been doing nothing worth mentioning. I haven’t been up to much , but maybe tomorrow.
    http://www.phonebell.net/

    Comment by cheap phone card -

  4. My Tivo just updated itself to the latest version of the Tivo OS. 7.1. This allows you to use the Tivo Desktop software to pull Tivo’d shows down to your laptop (or whatever) from your Tivo. I think it’s a huge step in the right direction!

    Eventually it will be just like Marc is suggesting. Video content will be created once and viewed anywhere and everywhere.

    Movies will be downloaded to our DVR, then we’ll be able to take shows, movies, games, etc. with us on our laptops, personal video players, automobile video players, etc.

    I think the DVD will eventually die. I hope it’s sooner than later!🙂

    Comment by Webmasterblogs -

  5. hi guys. whats the best software to use for extracting dvds into video files for the best possible quality? thanks in advance!

    Comment by kaine -

  6. There’s no need to convert, extract or compress dvd content. There is a free tool available, daemon tools, http://www.daemon-tools.cc/ that solves your challenge. Simply copy the image file of the dvd to your hard drive. Through daemon tools, you can emulate a dvd drive on your computer, through which you can mount the dvd image file from your hard drive. Your computer sees it as a dvd in the dvd player and plays through whichever player you choose. This also helps extend battery life on your laptop.

    Comment by Jay Hammer -

  7. Mark

    Check out these links about an external hard drive setup specifically for traveling with lots of videos. The thing even has a remote. I know you still have the conversion issues but currently I run a company that converts CDs to MP3s. DVD to another format maybe a service we over later this year.

    my thoughts on the prduct
    http://create-buzz.blogspot.com/2005/01/external-hard-drive-to-your-tv.html
    The products homepage
    http://www.lacie.com/products/product.htm?pid=10481

    Comment by Greg -

  8. Whats up Mark,
    I guess I’m not the only one who TIVO’s Law & Order and basketball games.

    Comment by Sean -

  9. Hey Cubes,
    How about DVDs and CDs in a protective case like the ones they used to have minidiscs in (remember those?)
    Anyways, keep up the D and whatever you do DON’T TRADE DANIELS OR HOWARD OR THE CITY WILL RIOT! Thanks

    Comment by scotty MFFL -

  10. It sounds like you and Cringely are on the same page. He believe that Apple will be expanding iTunes into movie distribution:

    http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20050120.html

    Comment by Chris Nystrom -

  11. I tried to read the comments. All the comments. But there are just so many of them! You’ve got more than 50 comments on this post, over a 100 on the last one. And this post is about ripping DVDs! Don’t get me wrong, it was a good post, I’ve had the same problem with DVDs myself, but wow… that’s a lot of people! It’s the first time I’ve stumbled across this blog, maybe I should dig deeper. You incredibly good at writing, got hundreds of very very interested friends or sumthin? I’ll have to read a bit more🙂

    Comment by apples -

  12. Quote: “My point about NetFlix and Fair Use was simply that in a debate like this when the wrong people get on the right side of an argument that it makes it more difficult to fight the uphill battle”

    That makes a lot more sense (to me, anyway) than the earlier post (which (probably unintentionally) came off as a blanket statement that people who use Netflix and also don’t like the DMCA have an invalid argument).

    Quote: “Defending the disingenious because they agree with your side of the argument only discredits the remaining, legitimate advocates of the position.”

    Not defending anyone- just illustrating the point that yes, you can like Netflix and yes, you can also be unhappy with aspects of the DMCA.

    As a content provider/distributor do I want to see our stuff on the P2P networks? No. But do I still think that the DMCA is flawed? Yes.

    Quote: “In other words, if you steal stuff then STFU and let the honest people argue for Fair Use.”

    I agree.

    Comment by DeeAnn -

  13. The problem with this is the DVD/CCA. While fair use gives us the right to make backup copies of our media, it is illegal to break the encryption on a DVD to get to the media. It is a catch 22. There are several devices available that provide server access for DVDs. Kaleidascape is a system, that distributes DVDs across a home network. It is really expensive about 30K. This comany spent a ton of money and bought a license from the DVD/CCA. Then were sued anyway. DRM will kill the movie and music business before pirates.

    Comment by Bob L -

  14. My point about NetFlix and Fair Use was simply that in a debate like this when the wrong people get on the right side of an argument that it makes it more difficult to fight the uphill battle.

    In a similar fashion, the folks who got sued by the RIAA for distributing THOUSANDS of songs online aren’t the same people you want arguing in favor of P2P networks.

    The issue at hand in all of these similar cases is really simple. It’s the competing interests of people who want convenient use of something they own and legitimately paid for versus those who either feel entitled to obtain the same content without paying anyone, or those who would try and profit by selling content to which they have no legitimate rights.

    There are flaws on both sides of the arguments. First off, copyright and content ownership is a very valuable and important thing. Without those rights and protections you wouldn’t have nearly as much quality content available. Can you imagine New Line putting up $300 million to film the Lord of the Rings trilogy if you could legally download it for free online the day it came out in theaters. However, the content producers alway egrigiously overestimate the total losses they incurr because they assume that every dollar worth of stolen content equates to a dollar of lost sales. The reason why people steal something in the first place is usually that they don’t have the money or the inclination to pay for it. This isn’t like shoplifting where if you steal $100 worth of solid goods that you have demonstrably taken $100 out of the pocket of the merchant. Selling media content is like selling software and/or prostitution. You got it. You sell it. You still got it.

    Defending the disingenious because they agree with your side of the argument only discredits the remaining, legitimate advocates of the position.

    In other words, if you steal stuff then STFU and let the honest people argue for Fair Use.

    Comment by Rich Colbert -

  15. I agree it is a total trying to rip a dvd.

    Comment by Paul Martin -

  16. I agree. But after reading your blog I just have to mention one more thing: DVDs (plural) doesn’t have an apostrophe.

    Comment by David -

  17. If you had an Apple this wouldn’t be a problem! Get on the Apple wagon dude! :-)!!!!

    Comment by nedloh -

  18. Check out MythTV (http://www.mythtv.org). Opensource software that runs on linux that providers PVR functionality, DVD ripping and archival, music playback and ripping, newsfeeds, weather, multiple front end boxes tied to a main backend(access your recordings library from every tv in the house) and a few other nifty things. Pretty damn cool piece of software.

    I haven’t had too much time to play with it, but it does support HDTV and I can vouch for the speed and quality of the DVD ripper. I have it set up on a Athlon XP-M running @ 2300 Mhz, 512MB ram and it ripped an hour an a half long DVD in about 15 minutes and gives you a variety of options for transcoding. Couple something like this with a ton of disk space and use Samba or NFS to share the directory and you could not only have an easy and quick way to rip and move to a HD, you never have to worry about scratching a disk again, storing them, etc.

    Comment by Andrew -

  19. Scratch Free DVDs

    http://news.zdnet.com/Maxell:+Feel+free+to+bang+this+DVD+around/2100-1040_22-5543761.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=zdnn

    Comment by Steve -

  20. If space is not a problem just use DVDShrink in re-author mode to rip the movie to hard drive, then you just double click the VOB files to watch them (they are MPEG2 files). Over here it rips a movie in around 15 mins.

    Comment by spectro -

  21. Oooo- but it does bring up the question of issues regarding DivX or alternate formats on rental DVD’s.

    Comment by DeeAnn Little -

  22. quote:”…When someone in one sentence tells you how cool NetFlix is, and in the next tells you how the DCMA blows because it infringes upon their rights, what conclusion do you draw?”

    Actually…
    That they like home delivery of rental DVDs but also be unhappy that someone like Dmitry Sklyarov was arrested for both pointing out a security flaw in Adobe software and working for a company that translated E-Book to PDF format. There’s a lot more to it but it’s way too long to recap here.

    A few years ago (before the DMCA took effect) I had to fix a floating license server problem for the company I worked for. We needed two separate versions of the software running, both versions fully licensed but the license server itself would deny the second user, which the Major Software Company admitted was a bug, but had no help to offer. I fixed it with a bit of RE because it *had* to work. Since it was pre DMCA and the software company was aware of the problem I submitted the fix back to them (which is now part of their official support documentation). If I had to do something like that now I could be fined or go to jail. So the two items in question (liking Netflix and disliking the DMCA) are reconcilable.

    ***

    quote: “What prevents someone from taking the component output of their DVD player and feeding it into an ATI All-In-Wonder and simply pressing play and record?…”

    Look up the issue of the “Analog Hole”. It sounds naughty but really isn’t🙂 “Hollywood” (read- MPAA) has been putting pressure on manufacturers to drop component i/o connections on consumer electronics for a while now.

    Comment by DeeAnn Little -

  23. Just a note that ripping a DVD is not illegal in every situation. It is only illegal to circumvent the copy protection mechanisms according to the DMCA. Not every DVD is copy protected, and not every ripping method circumvents copy protection.

    The main argument for the DMCA is anti-piracy, whereas the main argument against is fair-use. What sucks is when people who obviously have no right to excercise fair use try and invoke the fair use argument. Think about it. When someone in one sentence tells you how cool NetFlix is, and in the next tells you how the DCMA blows because it infringes upon their rights, what conclusion do you draw?

    What prevents someone from taking the component output of their DVD player and feeding it into an ATI All-In-Wonder and simply pressing play and record? This isn’t circumventing copyright protection because copyright protection isn’t present in the analog component video stream. Therefore the DCMA is no longer in effect and fair use regains its priority. How stupid that the same content from the same disk when ripped in the digital realm is somehow now illegal.

    BTW – Using re-author mode in DVDShrink I was able to rip the main program alone without any (additional) compression, the total output of Return of the Jedi was still less than 5GB, the quality is full DVD, there are fewer VOB and IFO files, and the whole thing took 22 minutes. (Plus I can play the files on my HD TV using my wireless G network and a very cool product called the Roku HD1000, and a free open source app called Mplay, in full DVD resolution.)

    I think the home media server with DVD/HD quality content is starting to arrive for us uber-geeks today, and will start to push it’s way into the mainstream in a few short years. Let’s hope that Hollywood and Washington don’t jack everything up even more in the meantime.

    Comment by Rich Colbert -

  24. I’ve had the same time consuming, but mostly positive experience with DVD Decryptor and DVD Shrink that most people here have. I tried it mostly as an experiment, since I recently built a PVR to compliment my existing Tivos. The idea was to get all my DVD’s onto a large hard drive and serve them up to any TV in the house. I would also have the ability to transfer those that I felt like watching to my laptop when I traveled by way of an external hard drive that I carry with me for backup storage. I was intrigued by the idea of putting both Blockbuster (I worked there for two whole months in college) and Netflix out of business with all of the rentals that I would rip and then own forever. Even before I saw this Netflix Calculator http://frogcircus.org/netflix/ (hat tip: smorty71), I realized what a waste of time, effort and cost it would be for me in the long run.

    Like many of you, I don’t remember the last time I sat down to watch a whole DVD, or even a 30-minute TV show that I didn’t fastforward through in less than 20 minutes. I’ve lost a lot of interest in “owning” my content – in the RIAA and MPAA sense of the word. They’ve made it pretty clear that they own it, so they can keep it, which means that I’m not going to pay full price ($9.99 to $24.99 each) for those rapidly diminishing rights they graciously grant me to watch it whenever I want. This is the chief reason that Blockbuster is fighting so hard for Hollywood Video right now – they know that there will always be a desire for someone to simply rent a movie and return it – even with all of the inconveniences that are involved – because it’s the ingrained, “good enough” solution. I know that this seems counterintuitive to a lot of the people reading this – but let’s face it – you are reading the comment section of a blog – which makes you both a technology enthusiast and an early adopter by default. There will still be real money in doing it this way and therefore a real reason to resist doing it any other way. This is not a technology problem, it’s a financial and political one.

    Then end result of all this is that one day I’ll be able to get every DVD and TV episode ever made, sent to whatever screen I want to watch it, 24 hours a day, through an intuitive interface at a reasonable cost. Until that time, I’ll be content to either a) make sure that I really will watch something more than once before I decide to rip it (more likely) or b) not consume pre-packaged media (less likely).

    Comment by Marc Nathan -

  25. I think the point is to not have to use a tool to rip out the video to re-encode/transcode but to have a secondary copy in an alternate format of a reasonable size available premade to direct copy to save time and work. So the only time the consumer spends is finding and copying the file to a location on the hard drive. I’ve mentioned before here (and other places) I am all for space-shifting, so using the on-disc model (keep in mind reading this I’m writing from the viewpoint of a small DVD authoring/production house)-

    Pro:
    It’s pretty handy to be able to grab that copy, keep it on your HD and put the DVD away for safe keeping- the smaller size allows for storage for more content with the size of today’s drives. And since the alternate version is coming off the master, not second gen from the already compressed VOBs the quality should be higher. And it would be a neat thing to offer.

    Con:
    However, you would not want to make the file large enough to where it’s cutting into the space of the rest of the title, to where you would have lower the bitrate on the primary content, decreasing quality. Also, most titles have empty space because certain players can choke up if you fully max out the disc.

    Some issues:
    Alternate/additional content is already available on many hybid format titles, however you usually need to deal with a bundled media wrapper/interface to access it (like InterActual, PC Friendly, etc.)

    Ughh…

    The ideal would be a raw format file like DivX without player bundling, and that way the authoring house wouldn’t need to worry about which player/version to include, redistribution costs, installation/OS problems, EULA’s etc., but that brings up another issue…

    Support and compatability-

    The more you start moving away from the standard DVD spec the more likely you are to have problems with standalone players. Either older ones or possibly some of the newer multiformat players (which content will it try to play first?). Again this could be addressed via hybridization/enhanced content/hiding it from the standalones, but how much support should you offer on the alternate raw file? Do you even offer any support? When selling a title it’s expected everything on that title to work correctly (in real life that’s not always the case, but it’s the goal). Not everyone is as technically inclined as others and they’ll need help playing the alternate file (i.e. finding and installing a player, making sure codecs are updated, etc). This could be easier for the larger production houses but it’s an issue for the small ones with limited staff (say- two people :)).

    And – what Adam has already mentioned- many content providers are skittish (to say the least) about anything considered to be out of the “norm” for distibution. So it would have to be dealt with on a title by title basis. I agree there is a better chance for indie filmmakers to be more open to the idea, much less of a chance for the majors (even when dealing with older, smaller catalog titles if/when our company gets to that point).

    About piracy-

    As mentioned in the “Pro” section you could have a very good quality alternate file, but as my husband said “Why would you want to make it even easier and do most of the work for the people who are going to upload it?”. There is also an expectation from those licensing the content to that the production houses would provide a reasonable level of protection from piracy and if they see it as “just putting the content out there” it could be seen as a real problem.

    My counter point is that well- it happens, and hopefully if someone likes it they will buy the DVD.

    For us the broadband model with authentication probably wouldn’t work- we can’t afford the extra bandwith hit if it’s a popular title. Plus if you register and get a unique serial number for one download and that gets corrupted, that would be pretty frustrating.

    Switching gears-

    There are places to get non RIAA controlled music around the web, both streamed (like somafm.com) and for download, many on the bands sites themselves. You can download full songs, and if you like what you hear you can order direct from the artist. Some of my friends are doing this.

    ***

    But back to the original topic- it is a neat idea.

    ***

    DeeAnn Little
    Shiny Object Digital Video

    Comment by DeeAnn Little -

  26. Maximum PC magazine just reviewed #1 DVD Ripper by http://www.dvdtox.com/ . They gave it exceedingly high marks for ease of use.

    Ripping DVDs is still illegal, though.

    Comment by Kevin Jones -

  27. Hey Mr. Cuban,

    Just started to read your blog and wanted to compliment you on it!

    To my friends and I, you are a GOD among owners! My family used to have courtside seats to the Mav’s back when they sucked, so I’ve loved them my entire life (ironically they sold the tickets the year I was born.). Just wanted to tell you that you have alot of Texas fans!

    Comment by Jonathan -

  28. At our company we use 1ClickDVD. It has never failed us yet!! It is on a brand new machine too though, so that helps.

    Comment by Rob Thrasher -

  29. Some misc info from the pros for those interested:

    For ripping dvdshrink is usually adaquate.

    You can copy the entire contents of a DVD using dvdshrink, but sometimes overly encrypted discs need a little more pursuasion. In this case use dvd decryptor. You would copy the entire contents to the HD, then reencode using dvdshrink.

    Every DVD has a VIDEO_TS folder which you can later drag to windvd or something similar. WinDVD is especially cool because you can search for VIDEO_TS folders from the application and open them.

    So make yourself a hugeass RAID array and start ripping. This should work fine until BluRay discs come out with 50GB versions of films🙂

    About that Bollywood comment, there is a report called “Project 2020” that alludes to Bollywood being hot and Hollywood not by the year 2020. Somebody didn’t do their homework to find out that the greater India film industry is already bigger than Hollywood, so Mark… have you thought about expanding HDNet to Asia? That’s what I’d do right now if I was in your shoes.

    Comment by Scott Hildebrand -

  30. It appears that the studios in Bollywood may have taken some of your advice. They are offering Divx versions of their movies for download via video-on-demand the smae day they release the movies to the cinema.
    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/01/18/1956223

    Comment by Ihatethebeatles -

  31. Based on comments on the rokulabs.com support board (for something somewhat unrelated, their HD1000 device) I gave DVDShrink a shot.

    I just ripped Return of the Jedi (thinking if anyone was paranoid about copy protection it’d be George Lucas) in 44 minutes to unprotected, region-free TS files with perfectly acceptable quality for laptop viewing. Stripping out extras I didn’t need and using moderate compression brought the total size down to about 4.5 Gigabytes.

    Very worthwhile to check out.

    Comment by Rich Colbert -

  32. Unfortunately, mp3.com offered this service you describe with mp3s and audio cds(but has a third party). Music folk (i think UMG) got “FUDed-up” and beat mp3.com to a bloody pulp with copyright infringement (of course it is copyright infringement — a copy is a copy is a copy…).
    The media industry will never see the light.

    Comment by Matthew Charles Goeden -

  33. The problem is content

    The owners of media content (Video and Music) are notorious for being extremely cautious about who gets to distribute their material. Look at Musicnet, owned by the world’s largest musical content owners….completely useless.

    Why are only big brand names launching music download sites? Answer: Because unless you’re a big company with alot of corporate weight, they won’t even speak to you. Even large companies are being held over the barrel by record labels , we’re talking heavy hitting companies here (Walmart included). You’d think with the success of iTunes they might have woken up…it doesn’t appear to have awoken them from their 20 year slumber, and if they keep snoozing, they’ll keep losing., more to the point, the consumer will too. But how long till the consumer demands more and someone comes to fill the void?

    MS is trying to step up and control all the content with it’s DRM, it’s a smart move for the future. If you need Windows to play all your music and video files, who’s going to get a differing OS?

    But it’s embarassing to see the media companies even ignore Microsoft, being wary of their intentions is wise, ignoring them completely is going to cost.

    Why haven’t we got digital media yet? the blame rests squarely on the content owners. The broadband connections are there, the hardware is there, yet we’re standing still.

    I had a chat with you before about this and after several long….long days trying to get any kind of licensing deal, I’ve come to a conclusion you had already told me, Hollywood would never go for it.
    So, partly resigning myself to indy labels, I’ve been pleasantly suprised; people who will listen to ideas and seem genuinely interested in new distribution channels.

    Indies really are great, I provide something they want, a distribution channel with no upfront investment. No desperately negotiating a distribution agreement or hounding retail stores for some shelf space. Discs are printed on demand with actual useful features like Macrovision protection; this company does all the things you want Mark. A CD plays normally in a car radio or any other consumer player, but put it in your PC and you can drag and drop
    (will email you in a few)

    Comment by Adam -

  34. DVDShrink is great for backing up whole DVDs onto blank DVDs. AutoGordianKnot is great for backing up individual episodes or a whole DVD into a format (.avi) for storage on a harddrive.

    What’s even more frustrating than copying a DVD onto a harddrive, though, is watching on a laptop the transport file (.ts) that HDTV PC tuner cards use to record HDTV. First, the files are huge; and second, there are very few elegant solutions to compress and convert .ts files to something suitable for a typical laptop. .TS files are typically too big to fit on a DVD, they fill up laptop harddrives too quickly, and they often require special hardware (e.g., an HDTV tuner card plus high-end video card) to decode them. This problem is a major obstacle to widespread adoption of HDTV.

    Comment by Eric Tsuchida -

  35. Interesting idea. My husband and I just started a small DVD authoring house. We’re talking about the feasability and issues with this.

    Comment by DeeAnn Little -

  36. I agree about the DVD watching. Now that I have a Tivo, I mostly watch news, sports, or tivoed content, and don’t have times for DVDs (that’s why I dumped Netflix). But here’s a high tech solution, and a low tech one:

    High:
    The upcoming version of OS X (Tiger) includes a new Quicktime version that supports the MP4 coded, adopted for (I believe) both of the HD DVD formats. Someone will probably have to build a software decoder/viewer, but there are already a lot out there, just tune one for hte new coded.

    Low:
    Netflix, and a three disc jewel case is a lot smaller than most disc drives. IT just isn’t that hard to brring a few (not all, a few) movies with you.

    Comment by Mike -

  37. DVD rip applications are illegal in the US. distribution of these applications and usage of these applications is illegal.
    DVD rip applications generally break copyright held by MPAA.
    The idea behind it is relatively simple. Data on DVD is protected by supposeddly unbreakable encryption. Effective DVD ripper should hack encryption algorithm and implement decryption algorihtm whis is protected by copyright.
    I am not sure that posters here is aware of this, but they really should check RIAA and MPAA web sites.

    Case did NOT stand in the US court when one startup tried to prove that their DVD ripper does not use decryption, but simply playback (fast forward i guess hehehe) the movie and record the resulting byte stream.

    Comment by larytet -

  38. I’m not a highly technical person, and I apologize if my addition isn’t as pertinent. I’m curious how the recent announcement by TiVO that television shows are now downloadable to DVD/laptop so that they in essence become “portable” might be relevant to this issue. TiVO also went through the issue of how many copies were allowable per household, accessibility, etc. The question then becomes creating an effective distribution channel for DVDs.

    I strongly disagree with any views that “relatively few” people will be interested in this feature. U.S. society is increasingly mobile, and increases in DVD technology will soon make it possible to render entire movie LIBRARIES onto single DVDs.

    Current projects that are being worked on will allow DVDs to reach 200 gigs of memory within the next 1-2 years and 1 terabyte within 3-4 years. Considering that the entire contents of the Library of Congress would take about 7 terabytes, you could have the contents of the Library of Congress on 7 DVDs.

    These revolutions will allow us to not only create personalized DVDs – just like we “burn” them with music downloads now – but will render them completely portable with entire collections of movies and/or information in few DVDs.

    Comment by Dawn -

  39. If you like to tinker you might try Gordion Knot. It is a DIVX enconding multipack that tends to streamline the process.

    I can fit 5 high quality DIVX movies on one DVD. I watch them on the go.

    You might also check out http://doom9.net for guides and information on various audio/video encoders.

    With VirtualDub, I can que up 10 movies at once and have them all encoded to DIVX in 24-36 hours with a fast system. Burn them to a DVDR in 30 minutes or less, and add them to my library next to their originals.

    Comment by Tor -

  40. You could not be more correct. Our philosophy at my company is to sell it as many ways as they ask to buy it!

    Comment by Rob Thrasher -

  41. Have you considered http://www.cinemanow.com? It lets you pay-per view or download to own movies directly to your computer or enabled device so you don’t have to spend the time ripping and burning.

    Comment by BG -

  42. Yep, DVDShrink is good. But I think the point is that DVD publishers would be well-served to think about marketing their products as something more than just a little plastic disc that goes in a A/V DVD player.

    If a standard existed to copy and play DVDs on an ordinary-Joe laptop, a lot of consumers would pick up the benefit of transferring PC-friendly versions of their DVDs onto a laptop for travel, etc.

    It’s all just 1s and 0s, after all. We’re already just buying a license for it, it’s just that that the license is currently tied up in the little plastic disc.

    Comment by Cap'n Ken -

  43. Please can you step in as CEO of TiVo and correct its course.

    Comment by New York -

  44. As a previous poster commented, I know you don’t use Macs, but the solution is very easy on the OS X platform. Use Mac the Ripper to rip the DVD to your local drive. Use M Player or VLC to watch the VOB files which are MPEG 2 video.

    Apple has made it easier than ever to give it a shot. Try the Mac mini for $500. On top of a great computer you will get to use some outstanding software such as iTunes, iPhoto and iMovie, all of which have become indispensable to me. On top of that, Apple has included HD capability into all of its Pro and Consumer video apps, so you can produce HDnet content yourself on your little $500 Mac.

    Thanks for pushing hard on this front. We need people with influence driving these changes.

    Comment by Chris Woods -

  45. One device to rule them all. What you need, and what I want to see built, is a device that rips your DVD (and downloads the cover art) so that sMorty71 (see previous poster) can do this in an automated fashion.

    Use Case: Consumer puts DVD in the device. Consumer clicks archive. Device retrieves lowest common rip settings from a CDDB type service for that particular DVD. Device stores said DVD using given rip settings. Consumer has instant playback of any archived DVD in a friendly user experience.

    Anyway, this is just of the top of my head, I’m not sure if such a device exists (and is affordable for the average non-bazillionair), if it did, I’d be very interested.

    Mark, lets do business.

    Comment by S Ackerson -

  46. I hate going to Blockbuster, twice for one movie. Last price I paid was $4.10. If I just had a Tivo like device that I could order and receive the movies, tv shows, etc., export from that device ‘x times’ by usb, firewire, etc., I’d be real happy. Ultimate control over what/when I watch it. Blockbuster would be history. I’m surprised Hollywood hasn’t created an entity to do this. Seems like there would be a business there…

    Comment by Jack -

  47. AutoGK is a pretty simple way to convert your dvds to XviD or DivX. While you do lose some quality you can make it fit on a GB flash drive so its more portable. Takes about 2 hrs on a half way decent computer to convert it though. Might as well have the computer do something while you sleep.

    http://www.autogk.net/

    Comment by Arhhh -

  48. I like what you wrote:
    “Complications lose customers. Simplification gets customers.”

    I wish the company I worked for would live by these words. We could improve our customer experience so much with just a little bit of effort.

    Thx,
    Dustino

    Comment by Dustino -

  49. That sounds like a terrific idea. I don’t know why I can’t play computer file formats on some type of player for the TV…only makes sense.

    Comment by NBA Rumors -

  50. http://www.doom9.org/Soft21/Rippers/SetupDVDDecrypter_3.5.2.0.exe

    it rips it directly off the DVD, just boot up your DVD player on your computer and play the file. Works quickly, about an hour per DVD, maybe less on a beast of a machine.

    Comment by brandon -

  51. One thing people have to realize is that the majority of the public does not have the ability to, or care to, rip their dvds to their computer. Why should a movie studio spend the time and money to make a few technophiles happy? Remember DVDs surpased VHS for the first time just recently (2003 i think), so it will be quite some time until the public has the desire to rip their movies. Besides I like watching my dvds on a screen that is larger than 17 inches.

    Comment by Dave -

  52. Buy about 4 10,000 rpm sata hard drives and raid them together and you will rip much much faster.

    Comment by Tim -

  53. I know this is getting redundant, (and wasn’t the point of the post) but, you should try DVDShrink.

    I use DVDShrink to shrink all of my son’s movies, that way the original discs are safely stored away. Another benefit is that I can remove all the menus and special features, when my wife puts the disc in, it immediately plays. (No menus, extras, previews, etc.

    http://www.dvdshrink.org

    Love the blog!

    Comment by Shadow -

  54. I only recently began reading your blog (which is great), and I agree with your choice of television. Law and Order is awesome🙂

    As for the topic at hand, it would be interesting for something similar to the iTunes music store. You could authorize the AVI/MOV/etc files on a computer via the studio’s (or better yet, an organization that works with all of the studios) on up to X computers. You can deauthorize a computer, at which point the movie couldn’t be viewed until you re-authorized. It works pretty will for iTunes, and I think it could be applied to distributable movies as well.

    But as any programmer who has written these systems before will quickly say, all systems have flaws. The best system is one that prevents the casual pirate/hacker, but doesn’t make the customer jump through hoops either.

    Comment by Jonathan Johnson -

  55. Try http://www.dvdshrink.org

    It works very well for me.

    gwlj

    Comment by Grant W Laird Jr. -

  56. Owning the actual DVD should make it perfectly legal for you to download a digital copy via emule or bittorrent correct? People with large movie or music collections shouldn’t have to spend much time transferring to their hard drives one disc or 10,000. This process should be largely automatic and distributed and I agree it would be to studios’ benefits to cater more to their customers.

    Comment by Scott Hildebrand -

  57. I find your optimism amusing, Mssr. Cuban.

    Four copies is too much for the MPAA. Especially when the encoding isn’t hard to beat. F’r instance, let’s say you make a copy for your friend Lloyd to use. Lloyd has considerably lower moral standards than you. Lloyd gives the DVD copy to Floyd, who has a real-time video capture business set up for DVD piracy. Floyd digitally copies the video as it plays full screen. Floyd then fires up his burner and makes a hundred copies, going for ten bucks a pop on a street corner near you.

    Technology canl not win over piracy. Pirates are too creative, too determined. But the hard drive idea is a little harder to copy. But not by much.

    Comment by Hannibal Tabu -

  58. i actually prefer watching movies at home (if i’m not in a theatre, that is)…then again, i still really love vinyl…but i realize how many people are into this kind of thing.

    unfortunately, i have a feeling this will end up like the music industry: a failing industry trying to play catch up with technology they aren’t ready for. napster is a good example…how many millions of dollars did BMG (now Sony/BMG) pay for this to have nothing more than a website which read “napster was here” for over a year until they fairly recently started trying to brand it. having to play catch up with technology is not the main reason the music industry is commiting hari kari, it is just one of many areas they dropped the ball…but i digress.

    it will be interesting to see how the advancement and ease of dvd/movie ripping technology will affect not only the dvd industry, but the theatre industry as well.

    Comment by ryan -

  59. The other benefit of the ripped file on your computer is the way that it preserves battery life on a laptop. If you don’t have the DVD spinning the whole time then the battery won’t run down as fast.

    I am totally with you on this idea. My mac works great on getting videos, but it does take a long time. what the movie industry needs to understand is if we can’t get the files the legal way, then we turn to the torrent sites and get a whole movie in about 30 minutes free of charge. You want to get their attention, tell them they are losing money.

    Comment by Brian Stucki -

  60. I know you aren’t a mac guy, but there’s a freeware/opensource program called MactheRipper, which when paired with Roxio’s Popcorn has worked flawlessly for me. I’m not affiliated with either, but they work well. I prefer to make copy movies I own in order to take them on the road, because otherwise, my stress level gets too high. Blank DVDs are just so cheap these days.

    Comment by Seth Anderson -

  61. Until there is greater clamoring from consumers for this ability, it won’t be offered. Part of the pain of being an early adopter is in having to do the work yourself.🙂

    Comment by Charles -

  62. Use DVD Shrink. It’s free and it’s very easy to use. I’ve ripped about 50 DVDs from my collection so far. No errors yet. Plus you can take out all of the menus and trailers and just get the movie itself.

    I am using Meedio as a frontend for my HTPC, so I just click on the cover art with my remote and the movie starts playing. Sure beats loading DVDs manually and watching 10 minutes of trailers.

    Comment by sMoRTy71 -

  63. What’s simpler, taking a DVD and
    1) popping it into a player (including laptops) and having it autoplay (just like at home with your consumer dvd player)
    or taking a DVD,
    1) registering on a website,
    2) downloading a file to my hard drive in some other (lower resolution) format
    3) finding it in explorer and playing it.

    And, if my mom wants to borrow it, I can either
    1) lend her the DVD,
    or,
    1) see if I want to use up one of the 3 tokens I have available to copy it to another device.
    2) explain to her how to use the computer to play the file
    3) explain to her how it is better watching it on her sucky old pc in the kitchen rather than her nice tv in the family room

    Comment by Anurag -

  64. I agree totally, there’s really nothing more of a pain in the ass than trying to rip a DVD. I’ve tried it a couple times, and every time it was more of a hassle than it was worth.

    Also, in response to how you say you don’t really watch DVDs anymore, do you ever find that you enjoy buying them more than you enjoy watching them? I buy DVDs all the time, yet I really can’t remember the last time I actually watched one.

    Comment by Mike Harris -

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