A week or so ago, the SlySoft website was suddenly replaced by a terse announcement that “[d]ue to recent regulatory requirements we have had to cease all activities.” I’m willing to bet that most of my readers haven’t heard of SlySoft or their main product, AnyDVD. In essence, AnyDVD is an app that circumvents the DRM present in all DVDs and Blu-ray discs, at the driver level.
There are two reasons for doing this. The first is to circumvent the region encoding used by DVDs, and this was the initial reason I researched and found AnyDVD in the first place. Film distributors divide the world up into six regions, and encode the region into the DRM within the disk. North America is region 1 and Europe is region 2 for example. Manufacturers ensure that their DVD players are locked to a particular region, so that, for example, a US player will not play a DVD from England. And that dear reader is the situation I found myself in: I wanted to buy British DVDs (of TV shows, essentially; examples include Inspector Morse, Shoestring, New Tricks, Waking the Dead, etc) and play them on my laptop over here in the US. In theory, it can’t be done.
Actually in Windows, you can change the DVD player region three or four times, so you could play a UK DVD, then a US one, then a UK one, etc, but pretty quickly Windows would ask to lock the player to a particular region. Enter AnyDVD: it basically fools Windows into thinking at all DVDs are region 1. With it, I could play my legitimately-bought DVDs from England (from Amazon.co.uk, to be precise) on my US laptop.
From there, it’s a small step to rip those DVDs – for my own personal use, I hasten to add – so that I could play the TV episodes on other devices (there was a time I used my Sony Clie PDA for this purpose, believe it or not).
Anyway, without AnyDVD all this would have been impossible. So I bought a lifetime subscription and enjoyed my British DVDs on every device I wanted.
So, I had a distinct sinking feeling a couple of weeks ago. Sure AnyDVD works fine right now, but how soon would it be when it no longer did? What would I do then? I went to eBay and bought an external DVD drive identical to the one I already use. My plan was to lock the new one to region 2, so I could still watch my British DVDs once AnyDVD started to have problems with some future update to Windows 10.
And then … last week I heard news that, although SlySoft was no more, the actual developers of the AnyDVD app wanted to continue producing updates, and in fact published the next one on a forum called RedFox in Belize. And there was also news that they were planning on bringing the purchasing system back online.
I look forward to further updates to AnyDVD, and will probably put my new external DVD player onto eBay again. Or perhaps I’ll keep it for emergencies.
Nightmares On Wax - Morse
(from Carboot Soul)