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How-To Decrypt DVDs with HandBrake (So You Can Rip Them)

Ripping DVDs is a great way to keep a backup and stream videos over your network. The process typically takes 2-3 different programs to accomplish the task. Here’s how you can skip a step and decrypt DVDs using HandBrake.

HandBrake has long been a favorite of How-To Geek and we have shown you a couple different ways that you can use it to rip DVDs and TV shows to your hard drive for storage and playback. This process always involves installing a DVD decrypter first to break the Content Scramble System (CSS) copy protection so your transcoder (HandBrake) can read the information and copy it to a self contained video file.

This method works fine but it means that your decrypter needs to be able to decrypt anything that you want to rip. In the past, legal action has been taken against DVD decrypting software to shut down development claiming it to be illegal. There is however a work around.

DVD Players (libdvdcss.dll)

DVD playback software is 100% legal and there are plenty of free ones you can get to play DVDs on your computer. Mac OS X comes with playback built in and Linux can typically install it through the distributions software repositories. This is why HandBrake will decrpyt DVDs on both of those platforms without a separate decrypter.

In many versions of Windows, DVD playback functionality is either not included or limited to specific programs (e.g. Windows Media Player). In order to play a DVD you need to install 3rd party software that lets you decrypt the CSS so you can play the DVD.

Software that can play DVDs rely on dll files to tell it how to read the encrypted disc for playback. In most free software, a common dll file called libdvdcss is used. By using libdvdcss combined with HandBrake, we will be able to decrypt our DVDs while we transcode, without any additional software.

Using a freely available DVD playback library also frees you from needing architecture dependent software. DVD43 is a popular DVD decrypting program in Windows but has not been updated to work with Windows 7 AMD_64 architecture. With the dll file you don’t need the program at all.

Without the dll libraries, you typically will see this error in HandBrake.

In order to get the necessary dll file you can download one of the free DVD players that are based on it. Our favorite is XBMC which you can download from the link below.

Once you have XBMC and HandBrake installed, browse to your XBMC installation directory in the folder

XBMC\system\players\dvdplayer

and copy the libdvdcss-2.dll file to the HankBrake installation folder.

Rename the file to libdvdcss.dll and restart HandBrake.

Now whenever you read a DVD that uses CSS, you will be able to decrypt it directly in HandBrake and rip the DVD.

XBMC website

Justin is a Linux and HTPC enthusiast who loves to try new projects. He isn't scared of bricking a cell phone in the name of freedom.

  • Published 01/25/12

Comments (22)

  1. Steve-O-Rama

    Nice write-up! :)

    The title contains an error: HandBrake, not HardBrake.

    #corrections

  2. Nuno

    How to in OS X? :)

  3. BlackWolf

    HardBrake, Hankbrake all that means HandBrake… :-)

    Probably to test if we are following…

    Nice article but, will it also work with Blu-ray ? I tired having my kids scratching them because they left them (DVD and Blu-ray) every where else than where they should be…

  4. Renee

    I downloaded XBMC, but when I go to my program files folder and click the XBMC folder there isn’t a “systems” folder to lead me to “players” and then “dvdplayers” so I can’t get to the next step… I must be missing something… Is my version of XBMC too new?

  5. Nick

    Do I need to install XBMC or can I just open the file with 7-Zip and extract it manually?

  6. James

    Who uses DVDs anymore? HTG working on an article for m2ts (blu-ray) ripping and re-encoding all within Handbreak, right?

  7. LadyFitzgerald

    @James. A lot of people still use DVDs. Blu-ray hasn’t caught on as well as anticipated and many predict it will never completely catch on because of the popularity of downloading movies. Not everyone wants to spend the money to upgrade to blu-ray, especially when they already have large DVD libraries. Also, there are far more movies available in DVD than Blu-ray and it’s not likely the nonblu-ray titles will ever be converted for resale.

  8. Bryan

    Why not use dvd shrink? It’s a lot easier.

  9. jameyjamey

    @rothgar you have done it again, awesome tip!!! I love this website.

  10. Deez

    If you just want to rip your DVDs to ISO format (or VIDEO_TS folder format) and aren’t transcoding, then I recommend DVDFab HD Decrypter. Works like a charm.

  11. JeffS

    @Bryan, yeah dvd shrink is easy to use but it won’t process DVDs with the CSS encoding. least not without help from ripit4me and DVDDecrypter , which that combo no longer works on a good bit of these new DVDs.

    @Renee I just downloaded xmbc from their site less than an hour ago and the files are all there as described in this article. Perhaps something went wrong with the install, I imagine I have the latest version from their website.

  12. JeffS

    Well, guess this method still isn’t perfect it’s been chugging for close to an hour now

    8 CPUs detected
    Opening D:\VIDEO_TS…
    [18:23:43] hb_scan: path=D:\VIDEO_TS, title_index=1
    libbluray/bdnav/index_parse.c:157: indx_parse(): error opening D:\VIDEO_TS/BDMV/index.bdmv
    libbluray/bluray.c:960: nav_get_title_list(D:\VIDEO_TS) failed (0x184adb0)
    [18:23:43] bd: not a bd – trying as a stream/file instead
    libdvdnav: Using dvdnav version 4.1.3
    libdvdread: Encrypted DVD support unavailable.
    libdvdread: Could not open input: Permission denied
    libdvdread: Can’t open D: for reading
    libdvdread: Device (null) inaccessible, CSS authentication not available.
    NAME OPEN FAILED
    libdvdnav: Unable to find home directorylibdvdnav: DVD disk reports itself with Region mask 0x00fe0000. Regions: 1
    libdvdread: Encrypted DVD support unavailable.
    libdvdread: Could not open input: Permission denied
    libdvdread: Can’t open D: for reading
    libdvdread: Device (null) inaccessible, CSS authentication not available.

  13. Bryan

    @JeffS So what software works that’s not outdated?

  14. JeffS

    @Bryan, the best to use currently though not “free” is DVD Fab 8, they keep up with all of the changes. For free/osp software there really isn’t much left. I’ve had lots of luck using that triple pack I mentioned earlier running under Wine in Linux, but currently it’s more miss than hit. The most difficult movies to back up are the ones from Paramount, a lot of their movies are not even watchable on computers.

  15. Zarky

    I use DVDFab to extract to the hard drive and then use DVD Shrink to compress. I must add that I have burned 100′s of DVD’s this way and I have never had a DVD that could not be cracked.
    I then use Verbatim DVD-R and I cannot even remember when last I have had a burn failure using Nero or a bad Verbatim DVD disc.
    I use a Samsung DVD writer and I always write at 4x you can go to 8x but I recommend 4x. For anything else that is not multimedia you may burn at a high speed.

    Remember if you buy cheap media it will not last, what you pay is what you get. I have 20 years plus experience with computers so you may either take my advice or learn the hard way.

  16. Joseph

    It worked for me! VERY happy. Disk to transcode does take quite a bit longer to scan before being able to start in Handbrake, but it did work! Thanks so much for the how to!!!!!!

  17. Anonymous

    THANK YOU!

    Any hope for those of us with rotting copies of DVDXCopy by 321 Studios? I got the DVD-X-Copy Platinum (their most expensive version) and have pretty much never been able to use it since there has never been anyone available to activate it.

    And it really makes me hate Windows for much the same reason since Microsoft will also eventually turn off older versions of Windows (starting with XP) pretty much the same way.

  18. Diva O'Doom

    I use the same copy of DVD Decrypter that I’ve used for the past 5 years. Hasn’t failed me yet.

  19. Someguysomewhere

    Yeah there is no need to install, you can use 7-Zip to open the .exe as an archive and find the .dll using the file manager. Look in $_OUTDIR/players/dvdplayer

  20. Ronaldo

    Works Great. How easy and yet effective. Thrilled how easy it was to pull some DVDs onto the computer for some streaming whole house streaming!

  21. itchyeyeballs

    AnyDVD is the best software I have tried, worked on everything I have thrown at it. Basically strips out all the protection on the fly and lets anything on your computer (inc Handbrake) access the data.

    Downside is after the 21 day trial its not cheap £30+ ($50+), although 20% off at the moment

  22. Ripper

    I did this and most DVD’s work however there are still some that will just sit in “Handbrake saying processing title 11 /16″ for 30mins. I guess it can’t decrypt it? Some of the films are reasonably old though.

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