Fast DVD Copy is an all-in-one DVD-copying program that’s designed to let you make personal or backup copies of DVDs and video games you own. After watching my child practically eat my Finding Nemo disc, I can see the use in that. The product works great, but there’s one catch: The software isn’t technically legal.
A question of legality
A little background: In 2004, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) won various legal injunctions against a company called 321 Studios, which sold an all-in-one DVD copying program called DVD X Copy. The MPAA claimed that the application’s copy-protection hack breached the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). 321 Studios lost the suit and went bankrupt.
All DVD-copying programs feature the ability to recompress a dual-layer DVD into a format that can fit onto a standard 4.7GB single-layer DVD-R. Other DVD-copying programs—namely Roxio’s Popcorn (
) and DVD2one’s DVD2oneX (
)—circumvent the legal issues by omitting the ability to strip out copy protection. But Fast DVD Copy takes its chances with the law by including the power to remove CSS (Content Scrambling System) and Macrovision protection. The result? An application that’s much more efficient than Popcorn and DVD2oneX, both of which require a second application to crack copy protection on DVDs.
According to the DMCA, it’s not legal for consumers to override the copy protection on DVDs. Yet it is OK to make personal copies of materials you own. That means that legally, things are up in the air. So far, the MPAA has not gone after individuals. But at this point, you’re using the software at your own risk.
Legal issues aside, Fast DVD Copy works quite well. Copying a DVD is a cinch—pop in a disc and press the Copy button. If you’re copying from a dual-layer disc, Fast DVD Copy lets you copy directly to another dual-layer disc if your Mac’s DVD drive has that capability (many of this year’s models do). You have other options if the amount of content you’re copying exceeds 4.7GB: You can compress the content to a size that fits on a standard DVD-R, or to preserve as much video quality as possible, you can pick and choose what material you want to copy. Choosing not to copy extras like additional audio tracks, previews, and behind-the-scenes footage can significantly cut down file size.
The ability to remove navigation restrictions, such as trailers that play at the beginning of DVDs and can’t be skipped, is also nifty. Fast DVD Copy lets you make a disc that can go straight to the main menu. (Popcorn and DVD2oneX have this feature too.)
Version 4 includes just a few minor updates, including new Rip Only and Rip And Compress options, both of which allow you to save content to your hard drive. These features are handy if you want to move video to a portable device or just leave it on your Mac for future viewing (for example, when you’re going on a plane trip and you don’t want to bring DVDs with you). Version 4 also adds support for RCE (Region Coding Enhancement) and ARccOS-protected DVDs.
As an owner of Elgato Systems’ EyeTV device (
), I often find myself trying stuff too many TV episodes onto a DVD, realizing my error only when my copy of Toast 6 warns me that the content exceeds my disc’s capacity. Toast 7 (
) incorporated all the features of Roxio’s Popcorn application, which eliminates this issue. But if you don’t have Toast 7, Fast DVD Copy is perfect for compressing the DVD image to a burnable size.
Macworld’s buying advice
The biggest problem with Fast DVD Copy is the current state of legal limbo surrounding these types of products. Ironically, as a company promoting software that breaks other copy-protection systems, Velan has very strong security for its own product, limiting each activation to only one computer. Legal issues aside, Fast DVD Copy 4 is easy to use and intuitive. And even though it costs almost twice as much as other, similar applications, it is also much more streamlined.
Anton Linecker is a video technical advisor and writer based in Los Angeles.
EDITOR’S NOTE: 10/27/05: We revised this article to acknowledge Toast 7’s capabilities.
Fast DVD Copy lets you duplicate almost any DVD with a single click.