DVDs come with crappy use-restriction technology built in that is supposed to stop you from copying your discs to your hard drive and playing them from there. Luckily, there are some excellent -- and ever-improving -- tools for defeating Hollywood's paranoid technology-locks. Mark Pilgrim has published a fantastic HOWTO detailing the steps to rip a DVD to your Mac using Handbrake, a free, open source program.
I used to buy a lot of DVDs, but since I split my time between the US and Europe, I found that half my discs wouldn't play on my Powerbook. Apple only lets you switch regions five times (though the studios actually say you're allowed to do this 25 times -- Apple actually imposes more restrictions than it has to), so I quickly ran out of region-switches and just gave up on DVDs for a while.
But I recently scored a little 2.5" hard-drive enclosure that can play any video stored on it -- in practically any file-format -- on a TV or through your laptop. I put an 80 GB hard-disc in it and started ripping my DVDs, throwing on my downloaded Daily Show clips, etc. Mark's HOWTO will be a great boon to me, since the method it details for DVD ripping is much simpler than what I've been up to thus far. And of course, a ripped DVD is a region-free DVD, so I can once again enjoy my movie-collection. Thanks, Mark, for giving me back the access to my property that the MPAA and Apple took away.
Update: D'oh! Xeni blogged this yesterday as part of her awesome video iPod roundup.
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