Breaking the law just to enjoy a mediocre movie.

Over at the Geek With Family blog we learn about how one geek engaged in a little DYI when confronted with a Disney DVD that had a screwed up Dolby Digital track on it:

Disney’s Atlantis the Lost Empire was one of a few discs at the time that were mastered with bad audio flags (including Pearl Harbor and Jurassic Park 3), that in combination with my Onkyo AV receiver output a few seconds of audio mixed with a few seconds of silence every few seconds.

Disney DVD’s solution was to try a different receiver. Onkyo’s solution was to avoid Dolby Digital and run the DTS track, only available on the $40, non-rentable Atlantis Special Edition 2-disc set. Both of these solutions were unacceptable. I turned to the internet for answers. I found you could re-encode the Dolby Digital track with proper flags with Apple’s DVD Studio Pro. So all I had to do was grab the separate video and audio tracks from the disc, repair the audio and then burn the fixed movie to a DVD-R.

Of course doing this makes GWF into a felon thanks to the DMCA:

The re-encoded DVD-R played perfectly. The movie regained its full surround sound majesty in my home theater. Without the offending flags from the original Dolby Digital stream, my flagship Onkyo TX-DS989 AV Receiver had no problem. I enjoyed the movie I rented for $4.

My $4 should have gone down the drain with this defective disc. But, through many hours of my valuable time and many expensive software and hardware resources, I was able to enjoy a very mediocre animated feature from Disney’s catalog.

Large corporations screw up and they don’t like to publicize it. Personal DIY can fix these screw ups. Part of this DIY process, defeating DVD’s DRM protection, was criminal. I don’t feel like what I did was theft. I just wanted to watch the movie I paid for.

Granted even if the movie wasn’t DRMed and the DMCA didn’t make it a crime to do what GWF did most of us would probably have just written off the $4 with a little pissing and moaning about the situation rather than go through the trouble of ripping and re-encoding the disc on our own, but the point stands that there are valid reasons for ripping a DVD that aren’t violations of copyright that shouldn’t be criminalized yet they are thanks to the DMCA.

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