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DVD Copy Protection Removal - 5 Tools to Decrypt CSS Protection

By Kelsi Gillan

Updated on October 13, 2020

Almost all commercial DVDs are encrypted by CSS (Content Scramble System) or many other DVD protection technologies such as Region code, UOP (User Operation Prohibition), Sony ArccOS protection, or Disney X-project DRM protection. These technologies are supposed to combat piracy. However, they also prevent you from gaining full control over DVDs that you purchased legally. You cannot rip contents from DVDs just as rip songs from a CD because of the attached copy protection.

Luckily, some DVD copy protection removal tools can disable the copy protection. They are either capable of circumventing or completely stripping DVD copy protection. Therefore, you may conveniently make a backup copy for your collections or transcode the DVDs into a new format for playback.

This article includes 5 best DVD ripping software to remove CSS protection and even decrypt other common DVD copy protection. Many of them are free tools and can work on Windows and Mac systems. For newbies who are unfamiliar with DVD ripping, here also provides a detailed and practical step-by-step guide to help you remove DVD copy protection.


Part 1. DVD Copy Protection: What is CSS Protection?


The CSS (Content Scramble System) is a kind of Digital Rights Management (DRM) and encryption system employed on most commercially produced DVD-Video discs. It comes into play to restrict DVD-Video duplication given the fact that digital contents stored in DVDs can technically be copied multiple times with no loss in playback quality or playability.


At first, this DVD encryption was considered to be difficult to break. To decrypt the audio and video from this type of discs, a 40-bit key is required. DVD players that can read media files from these discs have their own unique unlock key. And at the front of each DVD disc, there are about 400 of these 40-bit keys stamped onto it. As you insert the DVD to the DVD player, your licensed DVD player will read the disc, and try to match its own unlock keys to the 400+ keys on the disc.


Once a suitable match is found, the content of the disc will be decrypted and you can watch the DVD video. In other words, if one of the DVD player's licensees neglected to encrypt their unlock key, this can be a launch point to break the encryption. And in 1990, Jon Johansen, one of the developers of the DeCSS decryption utility, released this DeCSS program that made use of an unencrypted DVD player key and defeated the CSS protection. Rather than covering the backstory in this article, you may know more details from here: Why the DVD Hack Was a Cinch

As the CSS protection technology was cracked, now it is easy to unlock the CSS protection from an encrypted DVD. What you need is a DVD copy protection removal software to help you finish the task. And the DVD content can be easily saved and transferred to the device you want to watch on.

The following will introduce you to some of the amazing tools to unlock copy-protected DVDs. And be aware that after removing CSS protection from your DVD, the resultant content is only for personal use, please do not use it commercially.

Part 2. How to Remove CSS Protection with TuneFab DVD Ripper?

TuneFab DVD Ripper is our top choice for removing CSS protection. In terms of decrypting DVD copy protection, this DVD ripper is able to crack down not only CSS protection but also many other widely-used DVD encryptions. Here's how to remove CSS protection with this easy-to-use DVD copy protection removal program.

STEP 1. Download and Install TuneFab DVD Ripper

TuneFab DVD Ripper supports both Windows and Mac system, so choose the right version that works on your computer.

STEP 2. Load DVD Disc

After the DVD ripper is successfully installed on your PC, launch the program. Insert your DVD to the DVD drive, and then click the Load Disc button from the upper left corner of the screen. Both ISO and IFO files can be recognized by this DVD ripper. If you want to choose some specific content to rip from the DVD, you can click the drop-down arrow icon right beside the Load Disc button and then select Load DVD Folder to locate the file.

Click Load DVD Disc

STEP 3. Adjust Output Settings

To save more space, you can select the specific audio track and subtitles that you want to preserve from the drop-down menu on the right side of each DVD title. Click on the Rip to Video/Audio menu bar and you may choose a preferred output format.

Select from the Rip All to Menu

Usually, it is suggested to rip DVD to MKV format using H.264 coding because this format container can include multiple video and audio streams without causing quality loss. And the file size will also be small that won't occupy a lot of storage space. But if compatibility is your major concern, you can convert DVD to MP4, so that the converted DVD video can be played on almost all media devices. For those who want to keep all the DVD contents losslessly, you may choose the MPG format which is identical to the original.

Ready-made Conversion Profiles

To make your DVD copying process more efficient, you may check out the encoding information of your DVD from the DVD package box and then maintain the same encoding method. Just select your desired output format, and then click on the Gear icon beside the preset profile. Now you can customize the encoding method.

Edit Preset Format Profile

STEP 4. Change Output Location

Head back to the main screen and you can alter the output location for your DVD videos. Also, click on the menu button on the upper right of the program, and then select Preference. From the Ripper tab, here also gives you the option to set output locations for your videos and snapshots. Besides, to quicken the DVD conversion process, you can enable the GPU acceleration feature from here.

Select Preference and Go to General Tab

STEP 5. Copy and Convert Your DVD

Click on the Rip All button on the bottom right, and the program will start to copy and rip your CSS protected DVDs. After removing CSS protection from DVD videos, you can play the decrypted DVD videos across all devices.

Remove Copy Protection from DVD Successfully

Amazing Features of TuneFab DVD Ripper

* 6X Faster DVD to digital transcoding speed

* Convert DVD to 300+ formats and customizable format profile

* Decrypt DVD protections and unlock region code professionally

* Outstanding customization tools to edit your DVD videos

* Full support for DVD Folder and ISO Image as well

Part 3. 4 Free DVD Copy Protection Removal Software for Windows and Mac

In addition to TuneFab DVD Ripper, there are actually many DVD copy protection removal freeware to unlock copy-protected DVDs. These software products can also smoothly decrypt CSS protection and therefore make your DVD videos support cross-platform play.

With a free DVD copy protection removal software, you can backup your DVD collections and conveniently watch the resultant video files across compatible devices. But comparing with commercial software like TuneFab DVD Ripper, these freeware programs may only work best for ripping DVDs and not be as versatile as non-free software. Also, considering DVD is not as popular as what it used to be, some free programs cease updating. Still, they are free to use and work with old DVDs so you can try them all and choose the best one for you.

#1 Handbrake


Operating system: Windows, macOS, Linux

If you don't want to be held back by any time or length restrictions to backup your DVD movies, Handbrake is the best tool that can satisfy your needs. It is a popular open-source software program that helps save DVDs in essentially any format. It also allows you to flexibly change encoding methods of your DVD video and audio streams.

However, Handbrake doesn't provide options to extract audio from source DVD and cannot handle DRM protected discs. Therefore, if you need these features, you should turn to other DVD ripping tools.

Handbrake Interface

#2 Freemake


Operating system: Windows

If you are familiar with the powerful Freemake Video Converter, definitely don't miss out on its synonymous Free DVD Ripper by Freemake. It is another high-quality freeware to unlock DVD copy protection. It boasts a clean and clear user interface. The biggest highlight of this free tool is that it supports ripping Blu-ray discs. Furthermore, this software can rip segments of a DVD video rather than grab a whole video. The output formats are also abundant including popular formats such as AVI, MKV, MOV, and several other device-specific formats.

But the ripped videos will be added a watermark in the latest version of Freemake. So, you may need other tools to get rid of the watermark.

Rip DVD with Freemake

#3 Any DVD Cloner (DVD Smith)

Free to use

Operating system: Windows, Mac

As its name suggested, Any DVD Cloner is also a professional DVD backup and cloning tool to remove DVD copy protections. It can not only rip copy protected DVD but also burn DVD folder or ISO files to DVD discs. In addition, this tool enables users to customize the DVD structure to copy and shrink with 1:1 ratio quality. And all ripping process won't keep you waiting for ages.

Any DVD Cloner

#4 DVD Shrink


Operating system: Windows

DVD Shrink is another freeware designed for DVD copy protection removal. It features a DeCSS decryption algorithm that can easily handle CSS protected DVDs. It also supports unlocking DVD region code and creates a copy of DVD video that requires less storage space. It needs to mention that the software employs lossy compression. As a result, processing the video inevitably causes quality loss, but the influence is minimal. Besides, it also allows users to discard unwanted content.

DVD Shrink

Final Words

Now you've got 5 useful software programs to unlock copy-protected DVDs. All of these DVD copy protection removal tools are perfectly suited to ripping videos, keeping subtitles, menus, or other DVD contents. And if you need more advanced or customization tools to edit ripped DVD videos, TuneFab DVD Ripper is well worth a try. After extracting the movie from a DVD, you are free to import the videos into any program for further work and watch them without the need for a disc to be inserted.

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