Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ripping: The ARccOS Problem

In To Rip, Perchance to Burn and its prior posts in this series I talked about the various pieces of Mac software that can help you make an archival copy of a commercial DVD you own. Among these was MacTheRipper, an actual DVD extractor. It generally works OK, I find, but it so happens that the third or fourth DVD I tried to rip with it, Inside Man, gave it a bellyache.

About midway through the rip, MacThe Ripper complained that bad sectors had deliberately been coded into a VOB (Video OBject) on the DVD and asked me whether to delete or pad them. I chose pad. But MTR immediately got stuck, and no more progress was made. I had to quit MTR and start it again.

Before I did, I Googled "DVD VOB deliberate bad sectors MacTheRipper" and found some forum posts about the problem. One poster recommended to turn on "ARccOS" in MTR. That, I found, is done in the Mode panel (as opposed to the Disc panel) of the MTR window. You simply switch from "Full Disc Extraction" to "Full Disc (ARccOS) Extraction," and you turn on ARccOS.

What is ARccOS? This Wikipedia article says it's an extra dollop of copy protection some DVDs have. Which DVDs? See this list. (Yes, Inside Man is on the list.)

Unfortunately, although that strategy allowed MTR to finish the rip, at the end MTR still complained of bad sectors and suggested the resulting rip might be unplayable. And so it was. I'm trying the rip again, but I have little hope that MTR can cope with this DVD alone.

It's all about an arms race between the studios and the rest of the world. The rest of the world insist they have the right to make an archival copy of a DVD they legitimately possess, in case the original becomes unplayable. The studios say that opens the door to piracy and add ever new layers of copy protection. The purveyors of software like MacTheRipper try to overcome the new protection. In this case, with this DVD, it looks like MTR — at least, the version I have — hasn't quite succeeded.

The MTR version I have is the latest "official" release, 2.6.6 ... but it dates back to early 2005. The guru behind MTR is currently doing a version 3.0, which is in beta testing. Apparently the only way to obtain it is to donate money ... which I might do at some point. But not yet. I can wait.

Meanwhile, as a workaround I followed one forum poster's advice and input the output data of MTR into DVD2OneX. The latter is software that, mainly, further compresses a DVD so it will fit on a single-layer recordable disc. DVD2OneX also has the ability to create a dual-layer version of the original, but that is an option I haven't tried yet.

I told DVD2OneX to create a file set rather than a disc image — much less actually burn a disc — and it gave me a folder with VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS subfolders, just like on an actual DVD. At the end it warned me that it had detected 15,765 "mastering errors" in the input data, errors which it had "corrected" in the output — but that the result might still not "work properly."

I pointed Apple's DVD Player app at the VIDEO_TS produced by DVD2OneX and found that it can begin playing the movie seemingly without a problem.

What happened next was that I decided to copy the file set DVD2OneX had produced to a DVD-R and try playing that. Burning to DVD was a mistake, since the file set did not constitute a playable DVD.

The file set included two folders, VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS, but they alone don't seem to be enough to make a DVD playable as such. True, I could point Apple's DVD Player app at the disc's VIDEO_TS folder as "DVD Media" and the app would "play" the media files. Otherwise, though, I had a data-only DVD that would not play in a real DVD player.

So, next I tried using DVD2OneX to make a "disc image" on my hard drive. I chose the option to make a disc image for a dual-layer DVD, just to see what would happen. This resulted in an icon on the desktop that, when double-clicked, places a virtual disk volume on the desktop. That volume plays successfully in DVD Player as if it were an actual DVD in the optical drive.

The disk image icon apparently contains 6.85GB. So does the volume it mounts on the desktop when it is double-clicked. Strangely, this is the size of the VIDEO_TS folder alone. The AUDIO_TS folder appears to be empty! I can't explain that.

If I had a SuperDrive that would burn a dual-layer disc — which I don't — I could theoretically now use Disk Utility to burn my disc image into an actual disc. But of course if I had such a drive, I could have burned the disc directly from DVD2OneX.

As far as the playability of the result of using MacTheRipper and then DVD2OneX on Inside Man, there do seem to be minor issues. I'm only part way through watching the movie, but so far there seem to be at least two glitches in the playback. They're minor, as I say ... it's as if some frames were missing. I do find, though, that the scan forward and backward functions of the Apple DVD Player software don't work right with this disc image.

Accordingly, I have to conclude that the result of the rip is pretty good, but not perfect. Perhaps if I were to get the latest beta version of MacTheRipper, I could do better with Inside Man.


John Feeney (Bluegil) said...

Reading through your posts on Ripping DVDs, I for one, appreciate your continued effort even with the problems you encountered. I hope the audience payed close attention when your attempt to make "multipule" copies ran into problems.
As a duplicator we respect the right of making a back-up or archived unit. "Multi" brings about a whole new world of things.
Don't get me wrong, Right of ownership is something I will be the first to fight about. Pirates do have their place within our world, somebody has to slap around greed when it shows up.
What we're curious about is your position with upcoming changes effecting the ability to Rip? Having to buy a "seperate" unit to stream into my player, because it is deamed "illegal" is taking scare tactics way to far.

John Feeney

eric said...

John Feeney (Bluegil):

Actually, I might not have been paying close enough attention myself ... I don't recall trying to make multiple copies. I tried multiple times to make one copy, in experimenting with different settings, modes, and apps.

I try not to get into the ideology of making copies. Or the legality. I read recently that it is illegal to make an archival copy of a DVD you own to a computer you own, and then copy that to a homebrew DVD ... even though software like HandBrake and MacTheRipper exists. Frankly, that astounds me. I attribute the illegality of what certainly seems to me a "fair use" of copyrighted material to the difficulty of crafting the necessary legislation in the digital age.

You are right ... some of the copyright owners are downright greedy. But I mostly think they're afraid the current pinhole in the digital dike will grow impossibly huge unless copyright law errs on the side of denying consumers some of their legitimate rights. That's one reason these same interests wanted to put a broadcast flag on free TV ...

Would you clarify what you mean by "upcoming changes affecting the ability to rip" and "having to buy a separate unit to stream into your player"? I don't know what changes you mean. By the "separate unit," do you mean something like Apple's coming iTV product?


Ryan said...

Mactheripper 3.0 rel 12 and above works if you choose the option "full disk with ARccOS". It does take a long time as it goes thru every "bad" sector and handles it but 9 hours later... hey presto!

John Feeney (Bluegil) said...

The changes I speak of refer to like systems: Kaleidescape.

Picture an actual server in your home network feeding all the different sources. According at present, you should have a license for each one, an being a network archiving would be illegal.

But where does "Fair Use" come in. Today we have gone beyond the intent of maybe one additional source to multi. This opportunity signals too content makers additional ways of collecting revenue for the same content. But again the consumer is reacting to what they understand is "Fair Use". Amazingly this issue is only battled here in the US. Countries like Norway, England, etc.. have already deemed the greed factor as violating the act.

Hence if you purchase say a large disc changer store 40-60-100 disc which you bought individually at $35 a pop that's OK, it's only hooked up to (1) unit for viewing. But this technology has created ways the educated consumer can better utilize the "purchased" content by sharing, Fair Use.

My recent posting pointed out a quote from a Sony Exec, who does exactly what each an everyone of us does, yet acknowledges its illegal