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Forums DVD Authoring Homemade DVD Copy Protection….simple but it works

  • Homemade DVD Copy Protection….simple but it works

     Michael Sacci updated 11 years, 11 months ago 9 Members · 13 Posts
  • Joe Garvin

    December 4, 2005 at 7:06 am

    I searched the Archives and other boards …and it’s true there is no sure way to copy protects DVD’s that we make for jobs like weddings and special events. If someone wants to copy our work they will find a way.

    I have found a way which seems to work…Keep in mind that even locks on doors only keep out some people and a professional crooks will have no problem picking the lock .

    On other boards some of the responses refered to putting a scratch on the DVD but nobody ever seem know if it would work.

    This is what I discovered…Let me know if anyone is using this technique ?

    Formatting data for a DVD starts at 22mm from the center and Video data starts at about 24mm from the center of of the disk. So any mark put on the disk between 22mm &24mm will make the disk un-readable.

    I use Studiopro DVD 3 to create my DVD ( my test was basic play only DVD with no menus )
    my video is two hours long so I compressed it using the about 3.1 setting ( Compressor Preset for 120 minutes )

    I also created a 10 minute clip with a moving background and a title which states ” Advance to Next Chapter to view Show ” I found that the clip needs to have movement or else the file size will be too small when compressed. My 10 minute clip was compressed at the same rate as my video program which gave me about a 240 mb file. If the file is too small it will be difficult to locate on the disk.

    In SPDVD3 I put the 10min Clip first on the timeline followed by my Video program
    I added all the chapters to my video program …. the video starts at Chapter 2

    I set the first play setting in SPDVD to chapter 2 which now will bypass the first 10 min clip
    I also set the last chapter to jump to chapter 2
    If your DVD has a menu set it up to bypass the first chapter ( I did not test a DVD with a menu. let me know if it works ? )

    after many test ( ruined disk ) I found the exact spot for the first chaper
    ( I also found a way to test the location with out wasting a disk . Use a fine point black sharpie pen and put a small mark about 4mm long running in the same direction as the encoded data …like the grooves in an old LP record. The sharpie works great because it will wipe off with Alcohol and you can test again )
    The black mark will cause the DVDplayer to freeze and give you the exact time on the display counter.

    I found that the 10 min clip ( first chapter ) was about 25mm from the center and extended to about 28mm from the center of the disk. Once located I make a template for scratching the disk.

    The template was a Clear plastic DVD disk which comes with your bulk DVD’s to protect them in shipping
    using my test DVD with the black sharpie pen mark as a guide I drilled a small hole in clear plastic template with an Exato knife. the hole should be very small Just big enough for a paper clip which is just the right tool to scratch the disk.

    place the DVD and your template on a Bulk spindle. This is good way to make each scratch in the same place when you have 10 or 20 DVD’s to copy protect.

    The scratch only need to be about 4mm long but must fall somewhere in the middle of the first chapter.
    with the DVD on the spindle with the template on top, place the paperclip in the hole and drag it to make the short 4mm scratch.

    Now the DVD will play fine in players because the damaged area is the first chapter will be skipped.
    but when the try to load the Video TS file on their harddrive they will get an error message

    So far my test seems to work… AND I know ripping programs will still allow it to be copied . but the average person will be stopped by this method.

    Let me know if anyone has any other info which might improve this system.
    Joe Garvin

  • shvr

    December 5, 2005 at 12:37 am

    Wow – seems like a lot of effort to go through for minimal copy protection. But interesting. I’ve actually found that I could recover a disc by ripping a damaged disc and reauthoring. Most good ripping programs will allow you to ignore damaged sectors and continue to make a copy.

  • Joe Garvin

    December 5, 2005 at 4:04 am

    Some protection is better than NO protection
    now that I figured out a system that works with my template it will only take a few seconds to add to each DVD

    A number of things prompted my interest
    On the web a lot of people talked about the idea of using a scratch to protect but No one listed a way to do it.
    So I enjoy a challange.

    recently I was asked to video a school play… I stopped a few years ago because very few of the kids bought copies of the VHS tape and dealing with the parents was a pain…. I never worried about people copying my tapes because copies of a VHS tape don’t look that good. so you get what you pay for…….

    Now everybody wants DVD’s but still expect to pay the same price they did fot the old VHS

    So I added to the order form that I needed a minimum number of orders before I whould video the play.
    as it turned out I only needed 4 more tapes to meet my minimum . So I video the play anyway hoping to get a few more orders. after the show was over a parent walked up to me and asked if I was going to make the DVD’s available So I asked him if he had placed an order…..he replyed NO and walked away.

    My impression….. Why was he concerned about the availability of the DVD if he did not place an order ?? unless he just wanted to get his hands on a DVD to burn one for FREE.

    At that moment, I really wished there was a way to copy protect a DVD and my hard work. Just so this guy would not be able to steal my work. He did not seem to have the brain prower to rip a DVD but the sad truth is that he would get his 8 year old son to do it for him……..

    If I ever agree to video a School Play …somebody please Kick me…

    This copy protection is very basic and will only stop people who don’t know about the technical side of DVD’s

    But I will at least be happy knowing That someone wasted at least 2 or 3 hours ripping and re-authoring my DVD just to save $28

    It would be better and cheaper for them just to buy their own DVD…But some people never learn…..

    Thanks for reading
    Joe G.

  • Noah Kadner

    December 5, 2005 at 5:14 am

    There’s something to be said for protection against casual copying.

    I think there might be even more methods worth researching. I recently did a job editing together a reel of material for a friend. One of the sources was a dub made on a desktop DVD recorder- where you feed in video and it records right to DVD. For the life of me I could not rip that disc- and it was to his knowlege recorded without any copy protection engaged on the set top. All my tools were crashing on it. So there may be more out there to look into.


  • WTS(JManz)

    December 6, 2005 at 9:46 pm

    These sorts of ‘protection’ schemes come up from time to time. I would agree that prevention of casual copying would be a nice option, but the reality is that no matter what, if someone wants to copy your disc, they are going to be able to do it. Scratches or marks on the disc are easily removed with DiscDoctor or similar devices. One should build the price up for content creation, and not base the profitability solely or primarily on volume sold. I have read countless threads here and elswhere of problems with discs not playing properly on one’s own personal set up or a customer dissatisfied with failed playback. Imagine delivering a disc with a scratch or mark from the get go and have that happen. I can assure you that the customer will almost for certain blame the ‘damaged’ disc they received.

    In the end, IMO, you are taking a risk by doing this. The risk being that you alienate customers with a practice that damages their disc before they even get it. You are not personally aware of the long term impact on the disc by your action, and whether or not it can result in the disc layers warping or delaminating or propagating your scratch–with the end result being the disc plays at first, but not later. It doesn’t take too long to either find a thread (here or elsewhere) where the customer has complained that the disc played at first, but doesn’t now. Maybe it can be chalked up to ‘bad media’ or the customer damaged the disc in a way it won’t play, but with a scratch, I can tell you exactly what the customer will think.


  • shvr

    December 7, 2005 at 7:35 am

    I think you hit the nail in the head on this Jim. Long ago, I gave up on trying to make a profit on the number of copies I sell of a particular production and focus more on the quality. This allows me to charge, and often get, a higher price than my competition up front, while not having to worry about some kid making copies of the DVD I just produced for the school and cutting my profits down. In fact, I suggest to the client that they handle making copies themselves. If they don’t want to, I’ll do that too.

  • Joe Garvin

    December 8, 2005 at 1:26 am

    Both you and Jim have good points.
    But in the real world….nobody wants to pay the full price. I get 1 or 2 cold calls each month from people wanting me to video tape parties and special events. ( I don’t even advertise and have been working full time as a shooter / Editor for 10 years ) The call often starts ” I need….how much do you charge ?…..” I start by giving them my half day rate. Often there is an awkward silents as they realize ( or I hope they realize ) that I do professional work.

    That is why I prefer to do corporate work. I charge a day rate plus any extra equipment used and editing time. The more the company wants the more they pay….simple and direct.

    But when a parent or the director of a play calls They only want to pay $25 or $28 per tape . I would love to say Sure I will video the Play please have a check for $1800.00 and I will give you one edited copy….

    Quality is important, that is why the price includes Showing up and sitting through dress rehersal, Checking out the sound board. Video tape the play ( minumum 5 hours including set up ). Editing the footage / cleaning up mixing the sound tracks ( 20 hours export to compressor ) finishing touches in Studio Pro and burning a disk…..
    Nobody but but those in the production field knows what it takes to create a finished product.

    In the past I have lost many jobs because I gave them an up front price. Even if I raise the Minimum number of DVD’s required to purchase before I would record the show. Will only result in not getting enough orders and not vidoe taping the event and then The parents will really be mad. … not because they did not order a DVD but because The Video guy never showed up to tape the event… sometimes you can’t win

    So I would prefer not to base the price on units sold, but nobody wants to pay the full bill.
    That is why I normally refuse to do school plays ( nobody was around to kick me , before I accepted this one )

    As far as damage to the disk. I tested each disk I made and all worked fine. I know this process is VERY basic the scratch is only on the surface ( Not deep or cracking the plastic ) less than one mm wide and about 5mm long.
    My process only takes 2 seconds to add to each disk ( most of the time was required to play each disk checking that the defective area alway fell in the middle of the skipped chapter.) AND Yes I know that there are many ways to get around this system….but the Casual Copier is not going to go to all that trouble

    I’ve only been working on this idea for a few days, give me a little more time and I might come up with a better system. Only last week in most web fourms the resident experts claimed there were NO way to protect a DVD.
    What I would really like to know is how to open the VOB files and see the raw mpeg2 data maybe by adding some “junk – data ” (in the area of the skipped chapter on the disk ) will do the same as putting a scratch on the disk. ???


  • Bob Cole

    December 9, 2005 at 2:11 am

    I’m with Joe. For the market you are talking about, where your production has no commercial value at all, and the only value is the units sold, a copy protection scheme is entirely justified. The reality is that people think they are heroes to make illegal copies, as long as they give them away. Don’t know whether it comes from our Free TV heritage or what.

    I suspect that all of us have had the experience of being asked to make illegal copies of tapes and DVDs, by people who would never think of shoplifting the same tape.

    — BC

  • WTS(JManz)

    December 9, 2005 at 4:17 am


    I think anyone is welcome to do whatever he/she wants when making a disc, including ‘protecting’ it. The ‘protection’ scheme takes seconds to erase with DiscDoctor, and if one is truly keen on copying it, that process isn’t going to stop it. It can however alienate you with good customers if their discs fail to play (at any time). Forgive me if I find it ironic that you have a post about a disc failing to play smoothly months later. Just as I alluded to at the end of my first response to this thread–there is hardly a week that goes by where I don’t see a post about a disc failing to play properly when it did originally. You can bet when/if that occurs, the customer will suspect your scratch had something to do with it (whether it did or not). I personally have a hard time justifying damaging a disc to ‘protect me’ from copiers. You wouldn’t accept blank media that has been scratched, but yet you expect a customer to pay for a damaged disc. You can call the process what you want, but in reality you are damaging the disc. Just my 2 cents.

  • Mike nash

    December 27, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    Nice… Has anyone else has any success using Joe Garvin’s method? I’d sure like to know.

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