How to watch a commercial DVD?

Recently I bought a commercial DVD containing the movie “Akira”, a movie I had seen once some time in the 90s and I intended to be able to see it again. I actually bought the bluray version, but bluray seems entirely not possible to watch. However, this box also contained the DVD version, but was disappointed that I cannot even watch that.

It seems that this multi-billion dollar entertainment industry apparently has something against open software and hence it seems very difficult to even use a legally bought license to watch this movie. I am, luckily, not in the States, however.

While a free solution would be preferred, I am even prepared to pay for any working/maintained library to decrypt DRM-protected discs (something you can obtain or is included when using Windows and is included when buying a Mac).

My question to this community is: Is there any fairly easy/straight-forward way to be able to watch this (and potentially other) DVD on Linux?

If legal in Sweden, I would like to be able to make a copy to protect the disc from wear ‘n’ tear and watch it off my hard drive.

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Install the rpmfusion repos:

Be sure and look at the Multimedia install & the tainted repos section.

Then you can install or use a player if you’ve already got it installed. I’m personally fond of MPV but would suggest VLC or maybe celluloid to get you started.

For back-up purposes you can install HandBrake or HandBrake-gui if you search there are a lot of tutorials on how to use it. Note the first is a command line version.



Thank you grumpey! “libdvdcss” was the missing link. When I looked for it following that article, all I found was Ubuntu. Now, I know where it hides… erm… resides for Fedora. I already had the “standard set” of RPMFusion installed, just not “rpmfusion-free-release-tainted”.

Changed that and installed it and it now works. I may give HandBrake another spin. Back in my days on Mac OS X, I found it a little unwieldy and did not exactly produced the results I intended. Maybe it changed or I learned more over time. So, we’ll see.

Anyway: Thanks again!

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Yup, libdvdcss is what enables DVD playback.

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@florian, well, I kinda knew as the very article I linked to in my question already contained the reference to it. It was, however, when I searched for it in existing repositories and online, that the only reference I found was for Ubuntu and I did not find it on my system. It turned out that the package was “hiding” inside “rpmfusion-free-release-tainted”, a repo I did not install/had enabled. Thanks for @grumpey t o have pointed it out to me.


Regarding backup: you can dd from the optical drive to an .iso file just like with any other drive. You can then burn this file to a new DVD-R if you wish and it will play back normally (at least on your PC). Same with Blurays, but you need a more expensive optical drive.

You can also copy the folders on your drive and play them back with VLC and similar programs. This
You can burn a watchable copy by placing the VIDEO_TS folder or the BDMV folder and adjacent folders in the root folder. The burn software needs to recognize that it’s working with a DVD or BD drive because they need some special settings for the disc filesystem. With some Blurays you can’t do it and have to use the .iso method to copy it bit for bit, but all DVDs can be copied this way.

DISCLAIMER: In some countries it is allowed to make a copy for your personal use. This is a lossless way of doing that which also preserves menus. I don’t know if Sweden is one of these countries.

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I tried to copy just the VIDEO_TS directory before even asking my question here. For earlier DVDs that was working just fine. However, this one produced I/O errors, with the result of having only damaged files on my hard drive. I have heard this from a friend that these “I/O errors” are intentional and is one way of protecting the disc. The regular DRM decryption will take care of those during playback, something “libdvdcss” apparently brute-forces through.

The dd method may or may not work. I have not yet tried with this disc, but I recall that I had once one nastily DRM’ed DVD some time ago, which was not even block-readable. Back then it turned out that you could only read it in a purpose-built video DVD players (something I never owned). Computer DVD-ROMs were not able to read it due to “physical” errors on the disc.

About your disclaimer:
I am very well aware that this is not allowed in every country (hence I wrote “If legal in Sweden”). Originally coming from Germany, I remember that it at least was allowed when I still lived there. Sweden is (or at least was) quite lenient when it comes to even providing sites of questionable content (e.g. Pirate Bay). Though, I would need to ask around here to see how it stands with personal backups in these times.

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