Backing up Disney DVDs

Many of you know that I had a son about 6 months ago now. What you may not know is that my wife decided to quit her job and start a home daycare so she could be at home with our son. We all know how hard kids can be on DVDs and the like, so its important to be able to back them up. I am not a fan of the encryption or the new copy protections that have been put in place (ARccOS, RipGuard). These copy protections introduce bad sectors in the DVD, and set top players are supposed to just ignore them. The problem is not all players follow the rules. I’ve got a few cheapo players that just wont play many newer titles because of this copy protection.

Now that there is a swarm of children in the house I have several motivations to backing up my DVDs.

1) I want the kids to be able to use the cheap DVD players. If something bad happens no big deal.

2) I want the kids to use copies of the original DVDs instead of the original. Again burning a new dvd is much cheaper than buying a new one.

3) My MythTV frontends can stream ISOs and thats more convenient, I never have to get up and put a DVD in the player.

So a bit of research and some trial and error I believe I have come up with a pretty easy process.

Packages needed:

  • Gnu ddrescue
  • dvdbackup
  • libdvdcss2
  • vlc
  • mkisofs

The process:

  1. ddrescue -n -b 2048 /dev/dvd output.iso
  2. dvdbackup -M -i output.iso -o dvd_structure
  3. mkisofs -dvd-video -o clean_dvd.iso dvd_structure

Step 1 copys the DVD to disk block by block but any bad sectors found zero data is filled in. At this point you are left with a DVD iso that has the copy protection removed but the encryption is still intact. Step 2 extract the contents to a directory. This second step leaves you with the structure of a dvd without the encryption. I want to preserve everything about the original DVD (except the copy protection and encryption) so I used the mirror option. This leaves me with all the features and original menus. Step 3 take the DVD structure and pack it up into a nice ISO.

A few things to note:

I took no steps to make the DVD fit on a single layer DVD (4.something GB). If you wanted to do that you should requantize after step 2. To verify that the final ISO did indeed have the encryption removed I un-installed libdvdcss2 and attempted to play the first ISO with VLC. VLC failed to properly play the ISO with only the copy protection removed but succeeded in playing the final ISO. After testing that I reinstalled libdvdcss2.

Process tested on Disney Pixar Cars.
I hope you find this helpful.


  • Dusty Wilson Ubuntu Firefox 3.5.7 wrote:

    Awesome. Thanks Nick! I was using k9copy, but I like this way much better.

  • Checkout wodim to burn Isos from cli.

  • Horacio Reséndiz Ubuntu Firefox 3.6.8 wrote:

    Useful, useful, useful!!!!
    I’ve been having a lot of problems with these DVDs. I had always done back-ups using the command ‘dd’ and had no problems, except for Disney DVDs

    Now I understand why it’s returning an error. Will try it right away. Thanks!!!

  • Hope it works out for you :)

  • Horacio Reséndiz Ubuntu Firefox 3.6.8 wrote:

    I’m posting back my progress.
    Unfortunately this method didn’t work for me.
    I tried ‘ddrescue’ , ‘dd_rescue’ , ‘vobcopy’ and
    I even used the options: conv=notrunc,noerror,sync
    which correspond to the command ‘dd’
    I am just talking about new Disney DVDs
    What happens is that every different command either returns an I/O error, or takes a lot of time to be reading and writting ‘zeroes’ where errors are found.
    I might need to try it during the night and check in the morning if it finishes.
    I used “k9copy” to just create an ISO from the main title (movie, that is without the DVD Menu. I still have good quality though)
    I will post again if it works or if I find a workaround. Any suggestions will be appreciated. Thanks!

  • Horacio Reséndiz Ubuntu Firefox 3.6.8 wrote:

    Finally got a work-around to copy new Disney DVDs. Actually I came up with a different way to do it
    I always try to create an ISO image from the DVDs. I must mention, the Disney DVD that was giving me headaches was ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (which I only could create a successfully image with “DVDFab”).
    For all others (or most of them) you can try using ‘dd_rescue’ on Linux. In order to be able to backup the DVD, you must first play it (I did it on ‘VLC’), then hit pause. Now, you can enter on the terminal the following command
    dd_rescue -b 2048 -l OptionalLogFile.log -Afv /dev/sr0 /yourfolder/yourimage.iso
    If it doesn’t work then you need to use for a little bit ‘Windows’, which I hate to get back, but this time it was very helpful. Download ‘DVDFab’, you need to buy it or find an activated edition on your own. Everything else is very easy, you can choose where to save the image, etc.. BTW DVDFab’s version that is able to backup ‘Alice in Wonderland’ is Apparently there a new Copyright code/method Disney is using in their DVDs. Probably it is just this movie. I don’t know yet the details, but it worked for me. Hope it works for you!

  • Reinhard Linux Firefox 3.6.9 wrote:

    Thanks for this blog post! To me it seems to be a robust procedure to get around copy protection in the form of deliberately broken sectors.

    I did have a problem though – ddrescue took very long and the DVD drive made noises (probably repositioning the head). I left it reading for over 20 hours on a dual-layer DVD and it still hadn’t quite finished (was at 7.8 GB when I had to interrupt it for other reasons).

    I found out that even though ddrescue with the -n option doesn’t try to re-read broken sectors, the DVD drive itself (or driver?) did. Investigating the device mode pages with sdparm, I came up with the following to make it stop trying to read those blocks over and over again:

    sdparm –set=RRC=0 /dev/sr0

    As I understand it the names of the fields are standardized, but in any case “sdparm –long –long –all /dev/sr0” will show all pages and fields. Interestingly enough my read-only DVD drive showed no changeable fields while the DVD-RW drive allowed me to set RRC (Read retry count), even though those drives are of the same brand and bought at the same time.

  • dvdbackup segfaults on the Thor DVD. VLC and dragon player both crash when attempting to play the disc. Plays in a stand-alone dvd player.

    I may have purchased my last DVD.

  • monga Linux Firefox 7.0.1 wrote:

    DVDFAB no problem
    I think anything after handles Thor.

  • @monga, this post and discussion centers around backing up the dvds from Linux. afaik dvdfab is a windows program. I will leave the post in case it helps someone but please try to keep correct context.

  • Conrad Linux Google Chrome 15.0.874.121 wrote:

    Thanks for this! I’m in a similar boat with a new baby, 6 months now. This should help protect the old collection.

    I finally took the plunge to make a real front-end. Decided to go with XBMC, not MythTV. Although, I already have a Myth Backend setup if I get some free-time. Next time you’re in the market, check out the Zotac boxes with Nvidia Ion. So far, it has been a dream as a front-end and for under $300.

  • I hope it works out for you. I have found several titles that I had problems with. dvdbackup couldn’t read the TOC correctly. This still seems to work for most movies, I haven’t taken the time to figure out some of those discs.

    I have actually switched to a boxeebox and dont have any more myth boxes. The zotac looks cool I might consider running xbmc on that for another room.

  • Robert Linux Opera 9.80 wrote:

    It worked for me as well. Thank you for publishing that!

  • Awesome stuff! Was using Brasero to copy to ISO file and then Handbrake to rip but was stuck with the structure protection…

    Created the .iso using the ddrescue command above, tried playing it using VLC to check and then used Handbrake to rip to H264 MKVs, worked very well indeed!

    Oh yes, see the Title number while playing in VLC to pick up the right Title to rip in Handbrake as the Disney DVDs are littered with fake titles…

    Might help mention that ddrescue does take some time to work…

  • Craig Linux Firefox 10.0.2 wrote:

    I’m having a real problem backing up the movie Hugo (not disney, Paramount).Using ddrescue went fine and I can play the movie mounting the output.iso (via loop option) in VlC but using vobcopy or dvdbackup on the iso image causes a huge problem because the iso image is reporting there to be 69GB worth of data even though the iso image is only 6.7GB. Looking at the mounted iso folder reveals there to be 66 VOBs at 1024Mb.Why is it reporting these erroneous file sizes. What can I do about it? I usually back my dvds up using vobcopy and mkisofs and haven’t had problems till this one. If I just write the output.iso in k3b it makes a faulty disk. well one that won’t play in my dvd player.It plays but it has skips and rubbish on the screen. The original plays fine but I need a backup. Anybody know what the deal is and how to fix my output.iso

  • Craig Linux Firefox 10.0.2 wrote:

    It should be obvious, the reason dvdbackup didn’t work is that it creates a folder with 66+ files using up 69GB of my disk and taking a while doing it. I didn’t have that much space and mkisofs is only going to make a 69GB iso file. plus it reports errors during its operation (please send bug report: No VTS_TMAPT) I tried using k9copy but it copies all the vobs too using up all my disk space. And k3b won’t copy the medium reporting a disk read error. any ideas?

  • I don’t but please update us when you find an answer.

  • Jimmy Linux Google Chrome 19.0.1084.52 wrote:

    It hadn’t occured to me to use ddrescue — Thanks! Worked for me.

    If you still end up with an unplayable disk, there may be (intentionally) corrupt data right at the start. Instead of dvdcopy, you might try loop mounting the ISO and using ‘vobcopy -i /path/to/mounted/iso -m -b 4m’ to skip the first 4MB of data. This, along with updating to the very latest libdvdread, solved all my problems.

  • Jimmy Linux Google Chrome 19.0.1084.52 wrote:

    BTW the “please send bug report: No VTS_TMAPT” problem is cured with libdvdread 4.2.0.

  • Enjinn Ubuntu Google Chrome 18.0.1025.168 wrote:

    Thanks for creating this really useful blog. I’ve been trying to back up my son’s copy of Cars 2 for weeks (on and off) to MPG so we can watch it through out of our DLNA server. (stops little hands from going near my Blu-ray player and the original disks etc)

    I tried to follow the above in a number of different ways but alas to no avail. Kept being defeated by the dreaded 99 titles spoofing. Ran out of disk space the first time I tried to mirror using DVDBACKUP!

    After trawling the web I’d pretty much given up hope when I thought I’d just try HandBrakeCLI straight from the original disk. Unbelievably it pulled the target title (41 on my Cars2) straight to MP4!! Just thought I’d mention this in case it’s useful to anyone else who’s just looking to pull the video (and audio) off the disc rather than making a complete copy of the disk.

    System spec:

    Ubuntu 12.04 (32bit)
    HandBrakeCLI v0.9.8
    libdvdread4 v4.2.0
    libdvdcss2 v1.2.12

    Not sure there’s much else required as Handbrake did this straight from the original disk. Command here:

    HandBrakeCLI -i /dev/sr0 –title 41 -o ~/cars2/cars_2.mp4 –format mp4

    Output (-o) was into my home folder (~) and a subfolder cars2. I then transcoded the MP4 into MPG for playing through my DLNA server. Only problem was the aspect ratio of the MPG is 4:3 instead of 16:9. Odd as I used ffmpeg and specified this aspect ratio as I normally do.

  • Someone Somewhere Linux Google Chrome 23.0.1271.97 wrote:

    This site gave me some great pointers for backing up our Brave dvd.

    using vobcopy this was successful for outputting mymovie.vob

    vobcopy -o ~/ -l -t mymovie -b 8m -n 6 -f

  • This is the most brilliant repurposing of data recovery tools I’ve ever seen, in addition to finally explaining how/why these certain DVDs will not back up.


  • Lots of useful tips here! The vobcopy worked with my copy of Brave, as well.

    I’ve been a big fan of HandBrake – this is the first time it failed me. But it was able to encode Brave after vobcopy grabbed it from the DVD.

  • Anthony Mac OS X Firefox 25.0 wrote:

    Thank you, Nick!

    I’ve been having fun** with this on OSX Mavericks for a while now. HandBrake is nice but only transcodes to .mp4/.mkv files and sometimes I want the bare .iso image. The “Disk Utility” app can’t make .cdr (.iso) files from protected disks unless you play them in VLC or something first. Even then it’s hit-and-miss.

    The ddrescue, dvdbackup, mkisofs method worked perfectly for me. These can be easily installed using Homebrew:

    brew install ddrescue dvdbackup cdrtools

    ** where fun==banging my head against a brick wall.

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