Blu-ray Encryption—Why Most People Pirate Movies


I get a fair amount of e-mail from readers asking how a person could do “questionable” things due to limitations imposed by DRM. Whether it’s how to strip DRM from ebooks, how to connect to Usenet or how to decrypt video, I do my best to point folks in the right direction with lots of warnings and disclaimers. The most frustrating DRM by far has been with Blu-ray discs.

Unless I’ve missed an announcement, there still isn’t a “proper” way for Linux users to watch Blu-ray movies on their computers. It’s hard enough with Windows or Macintosh, but when it comes to Linux, it seems that turning to the dark side is the only option. In the spirit of freedom, let me point you in the direction of “how”, and leave it up to you to decide whether it’s a road you want to travel.

When ripping a movie from Blu-ray, I know of only one program that can do the job. MakeMKV is a cross-platform utility that will extract the full, uncompressed movie from most Blu-ray discs. Unfortunately, you have to download the source code and compile it. You need both the binaries and the source download files, and then follow the included directions for compiling the software. Yes, it’s a bit complex.

Once you compile MakeMKV, you should be able to use it to extract the Blu-ray disc to your computer. Be warned, the file is enormous, and you’ll most likely want to compress it a bit. The tool for that thankfully is much easier to install. Handbrake has been the de facto standard video encoding app for a long time, and when paired with MakeMKV, it makes creating playable video files close to painless. I won’t go through the step-by-step process, but if the legally questionable act of ripping a Blu-ray disc is something you’re comfortable doing, and are the two software packages you’ll want to explore.


HandBrake is a free and open-source multithreaded transcoding app, originally developed by Eric “titer” Petit in 2003 to make ripping a film from a DVD to a data storage device easier. Since then, it has undergone many changes and revisions.

Handbrake is available for Windows, OS X and Ubuntu from its official website, although it is possible to compile it for Debian, Linux Mint, Fedora, CentOS or RHEL[self-published source?] HandBrake uses third-party libraries, such as FFmpeg and FAAC. These components do not correspond to HandBrake’s licensing terms.

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