33 Comments

Summary:

Have you ever wanted to copy or convert your personal collection of DVDs for backup or easy viewing on your Apple TV, only to be thwarted by CSS encryption? I feel your pain, and so do the good folks at Metakine. Lucky for us, Fairmount is […]

Fairmount

Have you ever wanted to copy or convert your personal collection of DVDs for backup or easy viewing on your Apple TV, only to be thwarted by CSS encryption? I feel your pain, and so do the good folks at Metakine. Lucky for us, Fairmount is here to help, and it’s free!

CSS, or Content Scramble System, is an approach used by most DVD manufacturers as a way to prevent unauthorized copies and unlicensed playback of DVD content. Unfortunately for consumers, this kind of digital rights management can be cumbersome for those who want to take advantage of their fair use rights. Fairmount makes setting aside this type of DRM extremely easy.

Fairmount works together with the VLC Media Player to decrypt your mounted DVD and replace it with a unencrypted disk image. It’s really simple to do. With a DVD mounted, just launch the Fairmount application and it will automatically and transparently hand off the decryption to VLC and then begin mounting a new decrypted image of the disk.

Screenshot of FairMount in action

Once the DVD is decrypted, and the new disk image is mounted, you can then save the video files on to your network, convert them for playback on other devices, or burn the image back to a disk. The decryption is very fast and the exchange with VLC happens completely in the background. You even get a nice animation as the mounted DVD is smeared over with cream cheese, “Bagels are good!”

Fairmount_after

If you’re planning on burning the image to DVD, the Fairmount download comes bundled with another application from Metakine called DVDRemaster which will let you do just that. If you’re just interested in converting files for viewing on your Apple TV, iPhone, or iPod, I’d like to take this opportunity to recommend an excellent and free application called HandBrake.

Fairmount, VLC, and HandBrake are all free applications released under a General Public License. DVDRemaster is available in both standard and pro versions for $39.99 and $49.99, respectively.

  1. Hey, I’m all for fair use rights, and it doesn’t bother me to circumvent CSS for backing up or transcoding my own DVDs. But the inclusion of the last sentence, “Netflix subscriptions now start as low as $4.99 a month,” is an implicit call to simply pirate every DVD you rent from Netflix.

    $4.99 only pays for rental viewing, not owning a permanent copy. Suggesting otherwise is just plain wrong.

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    1. I agree – the statement about Nexflix at $4.99/month is not appropriate.

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  2. I guess St. Viateur isn’t a catchy name for an app…

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/350116

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  3. What you are suggesting is a felony in the United States. Aren’t there any guidelines for the Apple Blog in terms of ensuring their contributors write responsibly? Or ethically?

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    1. @Matt: The world is much bigger than US.

      For me and my wife, as big supporters of the music and film industry (1500 CD´s & 1200 DVD´s), the possibility to store our music and films on hard disc is a real treat. We had to stop buying new films for a while since we simple had grown out space. Now we can move all the DVD´s in the basement together with the cd´s.
      Which actually means – by doing what the record industry probably do not want us to do, we are now able to buy even more films.

      To buy something that would do the same thing perfectly legal (in US), like the Kaleidescape systems, would cost something close to $40.000.

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  4. Sorry folks, missed that bit at the end. Article updated.

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  5. Bryan Schuetz Tuesday, June 30, 2009

    @foresmac @matt Well, I certainly don’t endorse piracy. I think on the whole the article focused on the fair use aspects of the application. The last bit about Netflix was just a bad joke meant to inject a bit of humor. As Josh indicates we’ve updated the article to remove my bit of bad judgement.

    @Ben That’s pretty funny, Metakine is based in Montreal so that must be where they got the name.

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  6. I’ve played a bit with older versions of Fairmount, and it has worked pretty well. Though I still have issues with some DVDs, especially Disney discs, both with Fairmount and other mac ripper software. Of course, the whole point of copying the discs is so I can put my kids’ Disney DVDs on the AppleTV (for convenience and to spare the back-in-the-vault discs from the inevitable destruction). bSo, it’s a little frustrating. Maybe time to give Fairmount another shot….

    I can, however, wholeheartedly recommend Handbrake. (though I’ve run into an odd bug there, too, worth mentioning here: http://tntluoma.com/technology/atomicparsley-handbrake-appletv-bug )

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  7. [...] Fairmount: Convert Your DVD Collection (tagged: software freeware DVD movies todo ) [...]

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  8. I’ve been using Handbrake to (gradually) convert my entire DVD collection to video files stored on an external drive. I’m now using Rivet to allow me to browse and play these through my Xbox 360 in my living room…works great.

    Just wondering if Fairmount offers anything that Handbrake doesn’t here?

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  9. This one is simply great.
    I apprieciate it !

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  10. Torbjørn Vik Lunde Wednesday, July 1, 2009

    I found Handbrake to be very complicated and hard to use (I was never able to get a usable rip). I’m using DVDRemaster now and I’m very happy with it. It doesn’t have as much advanced features as Handbrake(I think that’s a good thing!), but it’s really easy to use.

    If you like Handbrake that’s fine, but if you’re looking for someting simpler I’d very much recommend DVDRemaster.

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  11. WhiteyMcBrown Wednesday, July 1, 2009

    Looks like a great application. I just jumped in to give my kudos to the icon designer. That DVD bagel is really quite cool.

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  12. @ Ben: St-Viateur is the pro version. Some of its features:

    – Better user experience
    – “Just works”
    – Ripped DVDs don’t go stale overnight
    – Technical support queue isn’t filled with tourists

    hehehe.

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  13. Magus: the world really is bigger than the United States. Point taken. But at least here, in the US, it’s illegal to copy DVDs that are encrypted. I don’t think that it should be, but it is. I also think that you should be able to make copies of your legally owned DVDs. However, that’s not the way things are right now.

    Bryan writes well and his article was insightful. But he also did not make any effort to address the ethical or criminal aspects of using the application he described. Now, I don’t think people should not always inject ethics into every discussion, but in this situation, it’s kind of like the elephant in the room. Most people’s encrypted DVD collection will NOT consist of homemade content whose rights they fully own. It is very likely that out of 100 people who own DVD collections at home, the majority will have commercial movies on them, not homemade productions.

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  14. I meant to say Magnus… sorry about the typo.

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    1. Matt: The ethic discussion around this subject is a huge one. I agree with you that there should have been at least a sentence in the article that points out it is “a problematic area”.

      As for today the solutions are good for neither consumers nor creators and right owners. I really hope it will be solved the next 10 years.

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  15. Isn’t this just the same as Mac the Ripper? (Although without the VLC elements)

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  16. Hrmm, nice!

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  17. Fairmount + dvdremaster takes forever and eventually hangs on my 09 mac mini. Nothing beats AnyDVD + DVDClone2 on the PC. Wish there was a mac equivilant.

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  18. I’m personally a big fan of this product; It makes backups of DVDs quite easy. When paired with Elgato’s h.264 Turbo HD hardware encoder (See link below) though, it becomes even better. Opening a Fairmounted DVD in turbo 264 you can accomplish some astonishingly fast rips. Typically I can rip an entire 2-3 hour movie in the space of a half hour on my 2.2 Ghz Macbook “Santa-Rosa” model. If you were to have, say, a Mac Pro you could rip even faster.

    I’ve only had problems with DVDs that have the new copy protection such as 10,000 BC and Batman. Some newer DVDs come with intentional bad sectors that mess with rips. You can tell the DVDs that use this form of copy protection by the symbol on the back. The symbol looks like two DVDs stacked on top of each other surrounded by a red “circle with a slash”. I’ve only been able to backup these DVDs with DVDfab, a Windows utility. Handbrake, MacTheRipper (version 2.6.6), and Fairmount all choke.

    http://www.elgato.com/elgato/na/mainmenu/products/Turbo264HD/product1.en.html

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  19. For heaven sakes people, do you really feel the need to be the morality police? People will do what they will, with or without your disapproving look from atop your high horse. There are many reasons (children, travel, wear-and-tear) for me to make clones of my movies, and all of those reasons are really none of your business.

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  20. Sorry, but it’s not illegal to make a copy of a DVD you own for your own personal use. There has never been a single case of someone being prosecuted for copying a DVD for home use. Only those who distribute the copies can be/have been prosecuted.

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  21. interesting program. but i never had to use something like this and i can copy, or transfer any dvd to whatever, dvd, avi, mp4 for my ipod for awhile now.
    i use visual hub for transfering the Video_ts to different formats and mac the ripper + dvd2one for dvd copies. seriously, before that, for awhile, i was illegally downloading the classics i had in my library from the web.

    i did same thing with music, i mean, i buy from itunes store and i cannot use the track for a personal video montage or anywhere else than in my itunes and my ipod. so i “illegally” downloaded what i had already buy legally.

    i dont mind paying for my stuff, but what bothers me most, is when i cannot just enjoy the simplicity in it. when i buy a protected dvd, and i cannot import it to my computer/ipod, well there’s a little light in my head that shows that piracy is the simple way still.

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  22. [...] Convert Your DVD Collection with Fairmount: We’ve all had situations where we’ve needed to exercise our fair use rights and make perfectly legal copies of our own righteously purchased DVDs and Fairmount is here to make that task easier for you. Alternatively, if you just want to rip a copy of every movie that shows up in your mailbox from Netflix, it will help you do that as well. Just throw in a DVD and Fairmount will decrypt and mount the disk image, no fuss no muss. [...]

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  23. Ni que fuera pendejo Monday, September 28, 2009

    Piracy of movies and music is just a way of balancing the world’s obscene sense of price plus tax.

    I only wish gallons of milk and women were digital.

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  24. I have done much reading on this subject as I am a US citizan. I do not wish to brake the law but the rullings in California makes that difficult for me. I like to purchase tv shows such as south park and law and order. these are from 40 to 50 dollars a season. With my current job i do much traveling and i have lost one of the dvds in a season, now for me to stay 100% in the law i would have to go out and buy the season again for another 45 dollars or so to replace the lost or damaged dvd. If it is damaged you can return it to the manufacture and get the replacement as long as you have the proof of purchase, but in the case of a missing one im just SOL. so to bypass the second purchase, i use dvd shrink and dvd decrypter. also i use my movies for windows media center and i am looking at buying a home server to store all my digital back ups. i will still shell out the 45 bucks for the new seasons, but to re-buy one because of a damaged disc when i should be able to protect my investment under the fair use rights act, i dont agree with it. especially when i own 30 or so seasons of different tv shows that i like and legally buy.

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  25. Nice article. It offers a lot of information on how to convert VHS to DVD yourself. I find the process vary interesting and even went so far as to look even further into the products recommended. Unfortunately the cord to transfer VHS to DVD did not work for me. I have a fairly new computer that met all the minimum requirements and consider myself fairly able on the computer and with electronics in general. At this point I have given up so much time already that I would rather just use a video transfer service. Is there a video transfer service that you recommend and that would still give me the ability to edit my video tapes? Let me know if there is additional articles on this subject, I would find it vary interesting.

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  26. Huh, i read this article to see if there is any purpose to Fairmount. Personally, I definitely prefer Handbrake, as it is a one program solution. While, it may not be extremely fast, the quality turns out great with no errors. I backed up my entire Avatar (the last Airbender) season 1 with this and it’s just awesome. I recommend handbrake definitely.

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  27. Fairmount and Handbrake do not do the same thing. Fairmount allows you to simply drag the Video_TS folder from your DVD to your hard drive. You can then play it using DVD Player or VLC directly from your drive in full DVD quality. Handbrake (at least the latest version anyway) converts your DVD to another format (mp4 file).

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  28. @Autumn Amen, to that. Do you think our founding fathers(USA of course) gave a rip(pun intended) about the overbearing government that dictated what they could and could not do. Listen, right now under current laws, yes, it is a crime to copy an encrypted DVD. Laws and ethics are not the same in my opinion. Laws these days are usually influenced by some expensive lobby group, that do not represent the collective desires of the public. Everyone weighs the risks and makes their own choice. I’m sure that 99.9% of adult folks out there have broken some sort of law. Speeding and reckless driving account for many deaths in this country, but for some reason “law abiding citizens” still do it…on a regular basis. It is not for those who abide by their own sense of what is right or wrong to pass judgement on what they think everyone else should be doing. That is up to the courts and jurys. Making backups of your own movies that you bought is a prime example of what you should be doing as a “free” American. Some MPAA regulation is not grounds for me to suddenly change what I believe in to be right. If the entertainment industry feels threatened, they need to change their marketing strategy in creative ways instead of wasting the markup money they collect paying off worthless lawyers convicting 12 year old kids….Where’s the Tylenol…

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  29. my question is what am i doing wrong that my pc thats run on windows is not wanting to dowload fairmont to my pc. it cant find the files to download correctly……lost can someone please help me! sorry im born and raised in cali i burn cd and dvds for my personal use. if im on the pc why not use it! lmao

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  30. Hey … people who think DVD ripping is immoral, incorrect or whatever. Feel free to not do it. Nobody is forcing you you know.

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