Here are a few free Mac programs I’ve recently come across that make it easy to exercise your rights to fair use. Which is to say, these are programs that allow you to backup, timeshift, spaceshift, or quote digital media that you have bought and paid for but that the Content Cartel would rather you not be able to manipulate. Windows users will have to find their own equivalents (they’re bound to be out there) or just break down and buy a Mac.
- DVDbackup: A program that copies a DVD to disk. It can also change or remove region codes, remove the Macrovision Analog Protection System that prevents copying DVD movies to video tapes, and decrypt the Content Scrambling System (CSS) that prevents copying of commercial DVD content to another digital storage media. Simple drag-and-drop interface. Freeware. Note that some uses of this program may be illegal in the U.S. or any other country that has granted legal protection to any business model that can be encoded in digital rights management technology.
- OpenShiva: Convert a VOB (DVD video) file to MPEG-4 with AAC audio codecs. This will reduce the size of a full-length feature film from about 4.7 Gigabytes to only 1 Gigabyte without substantial loss in quality. Simple interface, and lots of options including cropping and scaling of the final output. Open source (GPL). Note that for commercial DVDs you will need to use something like DVDbackup to decode the CSS encryption first.
- WireTap 1.0.0: This program goes right to the sound drivers and records any audio playing on your Mac. This includes sound snippets from DVD movies, games, iChatAV conversations, or Internet radio. Free product provided by Ambrosia Software, the people who make the SnapzProX video/screen capture software.