How Can I Burn iTunes Videos To DVD?

Dear Lopy:

My daughter just gave me a DVD with iTunes videos of the entire first season of Lost. How can I watch these programs on my TV? Is there some way I can burn the episodes to DVD?

Waiting To Burn

Dear Waiting:

[ad#AdSense1] There’s an easy answer, but it’s probably not what you’re looking for. The easiest way to watch the first season of Lost on your TV is to buy the Season 1 DVD set from Amazon.

The iTunes files your daughter gave you are intentionally handicapped by a Digital Rights Management (DRM) scheme that limits what consumers can do with the files. Unlike iTunes music, iTunes videos can’t be burned to disk.

Why would Apple do this?

Actually, Apple probably doesn’t want to do this. The DRM limitations on iTunes videos are more of a compromise designed to appease copyright holders while making programming available in a downloadable format. Given the many barriers to getting these programs online it’s amazing that the networks are offering any downloadable programming at all.

There may be some “unofficial” tools that would assist you in conversion and burning of these episodes to a more standard DVD format. If such tools actually exist they are almost certainly in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

What, you don’t know about the DMCA? You will soon enough. It is slowly having a major impact on how consumers interact with media (and not in a good way). Among other things the DMCA criminalizes all manner of activities that used to be taken for granted (Fair Use, making backup copies, format shifting, modifying hardware devices).

The mere fact that your daughter gave you the DVD full of Lost episodes might actually be interpreted as a copyright violation. While she would certainly have the right to lend you her DVD collection, the same right does not necessarily extend to the downloadable episodes. In the analogue world the right to lend your physical media to another person is the result of the Right of First Sale. In the digital world, the Right of First Sale no longer exists. In other words, once you’ve purchased a digital product you have almost no rights.

So let’s recap your options along with the pros and cons of each:

Lost Season 1 DVD set:

  • $59.99 from Amazon (with free shipping and no sales tax).
  • Plays on any DVD player.
  • Can be loaned to friends and family without fear of criminal prosecution.

Lost Season 1 on iTunes:

  • $34.99 downloaded from iTunes
  • Plays on any Mac or PC with iTunes installed.
  • Can’t be burned to DVD. The only way to watch it on your television is to connect your computer to your TV. Not an acceptable solution for most users.
  • Can’t legally be loaned to friends or family.
  • Surprisingly quite a bit cheaper than the DVD set. Some iTunes series are actually more than the equivalent DVD sets.
  • No waiting. Episodes are available the day after they air.

Clearly there are some tradeoffs. The iTunes downloads aren’t entirely a bad deal if you can live with the limitations. It’s important to note that those limitations are not technology limitations, but rather limitations intentionally imposed by the copyright holders. As more content becomes available digitally you can expect to see more restrictions thanks to DRM.

It could be worse, if you had downloaded episodes of Survivor from CBS they would stop playing after 24 hours. The episodes literally self-destruct.

And that’s another problem with DRM. Every content owner will have their own set of rules that they want to impose. Rules that may vary across their product line based on the age and perceived value of each program. iTunes at least provides some form of standardized DRM. When you download a program you know what you’re getting into and you don’t have to worry that the next program you download will have a different set of restrictions.

Update: We’ve heard reports that a program called Tunebites may be able to convert your iTunes video files into a format that can be burned onto DVD. Tunebites is a commercial program that runs only on Windows PC’s — so if you’re a Mac user you’ll either need to run the program in a virtual PC environment, or look for another solution.

Have a question about the new world of digital entertainment? Why not Ask Lopy. Send us your question and we’ll do our best to help. We live to solve problems.

Note: In some cases names and specific details may be altered to protect our readers.

38 Responses to “How Can I Burn iTunes Videos To DVD?”

  1. Jim says:

    Damn! There goes my 21st Century Video Store rental model.

  2. Annonymos says:

    You could just do a screen capture with Windows Media Encoder 9 Series…

  3. Pakk99 says:

    Or…you can wait a few months. iTunes videos cannot be transfered to playable DVDs because of rules established by film industry. However, the film industry is considering changing licensing rules so that consumers can burn their purcased videos to DVD. So…be patient. Its coming.

  4. Kirk says:

    Hey Pakk99 – do you have inside information, or is this just speculation?

  5. Pakk99 says:

    Neither…the DVD Copy Control Association announced on August 3, 2006, that they are loosening the rules to “enable retailers and later, consumers to create
    protected DVDs compatible with existing DVD players.” You can check out for details. Currently, iTunes does not allow consumers to burn DVDs specifically because of previous DVD-CCA rules. I think it a pretty safe assumption that once the rules are relaxed, Apple will add the functionality.

  6. Stuart says:

    One alternative to linking your computer to the TV for viewing videos is the all-powerful iPod. With an AV cable (of course, only available from Apple), you can play videos from the iPod on the TV with surprizing quality. I watched the entire second season of the Office this way, and hardly noticed a difference. Good enough for me–at least it’s quicker than burning a bunch of DVD’s (if we could do that)!

  7. Ben Graff says:

    use the apple ipod video cable buy an adaptech game bridge and plug em together and rerecord your videos to mpeg 1 find a good free dvd burner / creation tool and voila your done and damn dmca to hell

  8. Anonymous says:

    is it ok to illeagaly burn well in your eyes

  9. sharon says:

    Can you explain this a bit more, please. I need to somehow get 40 videos off my IPOD to dvd before 20 guests arrive next friday. HELP.?? 😉 I was thinking of buying a DIVX dvd player, but i am afraid it won’t make a difference. I have successfully burned itunes music to a disc then re-imported it as MP3 and used it in other applications. But no go on video…….

    Help if you have time…


  10. Kirk says:

    Sharon – The short answer is, you can’t.

    You could hook up some video cables from your iPod (or a laptop) to your TV. (see Comment 9 above).

    Alternately, you could pay 300 bucks to buy Apple’s new iTV product. It’s sort of a video extender that connects to your TV and plays iTunes videos over a wireless network. The only problem is, iTV hasn’t shipped yet. It should be available any day now.

    You mentioned buying a DIVX DVD player. Great idea. Except they won’t play iTunes. They will, however, play just about any video you might happen to find on Bittorrent.

    The entertainment industry doesn’t seem to understand that they need to make their digital media products as flexible and easy to use as pirated media.

  11. evilclwn says:

    I’ve downloaded two movies from iTunes. However, now after reading this I will not be dowloading anymore. Yes, iTV will play them but I don’t want to shell out another $300.00 after just buying a brand new iMac.

    I love apple and my iMac… not a big fan about not being able to burn the movies I purchased.

    Sorry iTunes… My money will be staying in my wallet or I’ll be going to purchase the DVD’s that I want.

  12. Elizabeth says:

    OR – if you really just don’t want to re-purchase them on a DVD, you can always get an AV cable that plays movies from your iPod on your TV. comment # 9 says it’s only available from Apple… but it’s not. I currently use the Griffin Home Connection Kit which sells for $14.99, it seems to work pretty well. And as long as it has been downloaded with good quality and there weren’t any importing issues, the quality of picture on the TV itself is surprisingly great.

  13. Mike says:

    The only way to watch it on your television is to connect your computer to your TV.

    Actually, there is another option… Apple TV, $299, auto syncs with iTunes Library, works great for me. Still, I’d love to be able to just burn a DVD to provide more flexibility.

  14. Kirk says:

    Actually, AppleTV wasn’t an option when this article was written. Might be time for an update, but to be honest I haven’t been impressed enough with Apple TV to actually shell out the money for one.

  15. andy says:

    If you have a ipod video… go to the apple store or something like best buy. Get a audio video cord and then just plug it in the tv and ENJOY!

  16. Matt says:

    Are you sure the DMCA criminalizes “Fair Use”?

    There are a wealth of arguments on the net about the DMCA’s impact on “Fair Use” but, as I understand it, it does not flat out criminalize the long standing “Fair Use” clauses of the copyright act (1976).

    These rights are protected by the constitutional amendment protecting free speech, so no digital rights management encryption device can truly “criminalize” fair use… it just makes the practice more difficult to exercise therefor earning the label of “Threatening to Fair Use”. (Which, again, is not to say that it threatens the legality of fair use, just the means by which the material used fairly was ascertained.)

  17. Kirk says:

    Matt, the DMCA criminalizes circumvention of copy protection and access restriction technologies. For DRM protected media that has the impact of eliminating, or severely restricting, many of the uses that traditionally have been considered “fair use”.

  18. Douglas Widick says:

    You can’t watch the video on any apple computer that isn’t licensed with your apple ID

  19. Jacques says:

    I cant blive there is no way to burn it was kinda a waste of my money cause i dont want to always want to watch on computer

  20. Anonymous says:

    Bulls$#@t I will not be buying anything from itunes. Can a movie be backed up as a file to a disc or dvd? Not only does it suck not being able to burn an itune movie to dvd but also they take a lot of memory. Seriously Studios make me sick.

  21. Mystery12804 says:

    itunes to ipod video + audio-video cable to tv + dvd recorder=dvd movie=case closed!

  22. Kirk says:

    Well, probably not with an iPod Classic.

  23. beanie says:

    Actually there is a way of watching your ipod videos on TV but i am trying to find an answer myself of how to burn them to DVD. Okay so first you will need to buy a an Ipod AV cable, you can of course purchase it direct from Apple for around £15 plus more for VAT and Postage or you can go to eBay and buy one for only £3 with p+p Included! Then you connect the yellow, red, and white cable to your TV and the spare one into your ipod headphone place. After click on Video settings then on to TV Output—->on Then there is also the region if in UK turn it to PAL or US —> NTSC. I hope this helps a little.

  24. Spin_Dragun says:

    there is another option. i’m tired and don’t feel like seeing if anyone put this above…limewire, windows dvd maker and a blank dvd. use limewire to get the tv show/movie you want, copy it into a file you made onto the desktop, open windows dvd maker, click on Add Items, find the file folder on your desktop and there it is on the dvd maker, hit next then burn. and poof (after waiting) your tv show or movie is on the dvd and ready for anything. its legal cuz limewire is sharing files and if you don’t sell them i don’t see much of a reason there is a problem. plus for those of u who say “copyright issues!!!!” the formats for movie and tv shows are limited and fyi (if u do this) i guantee u r not the only one. i don’t have any dvds rite now so i can’t burn yet but i bet about 1/4 of america found this out and did it.

  25. sharon says:

    I copied a personal dvd to my ipod. I lent the DVD to a friend who failed to return. Is there a way that I can now make a copy from my ipod and burn to dvd.


  26. someone says:

    sync the itunes movie to your ipod. open your ipod using my computer. go to your ipod in my computer, go to tools, view, advanced settings and click show hidden files and foldes. go to the video file in your ipod and copy the mpeg-4 movie to your hardrive and burn them to a dvd usind a mpeg4 to dvd burner (availabe in freeware and shareware). Hope this helps!

  27. Don says:

    I would like to copy itunes podcasts to dvd for backup and to watch on tv. Any suggestions on how to do that. Also what format would I need to make sure my dvd player can play to accomplish this. Thanks

  28. Realkuhl says:

    This is why I purchase all of my music from which has no DRM Bullsh*t to deal with. I have (mistakenly) purchased season passes to Supernatural for both season 3 and now for season 4 since it’s the best show on TV (CW network on Thursday nights) and I’m fighting with DRM authorizations for it to play the shows for some reason – very frustrating.

    DRM’s idea is good and probably necessary, but make sure you know what you are getting (and NOT getting) if you buy online from Apple !!

  29. Megan says:

    Its called LIMEWIRE people. Install it. Its great. Make sure you download Quicktime AND Mp4 file types if you want to put it on your ipod. Belive me, I have 15+ South Park episodes for free. Lime Wire kicks ass you guys.

  30. someone else says:

    I give credit to guy’s like someone. It is bull $h|t that they do this to consumers. They should have no right to restrict me from legally using my media however I want to. If I want to watch it on my PC fine or my TV fine or IPOD, whatever. It is great when people figure out work a rounds and post them to help others. If any good attorneys are reading this you should start a class action law suit on behalf of the consumers.

  31. Jennie says:

    I am approached often (at work… in front of legit stores… etc) by guys trying to sell dvds they have illegally burned. I have never bought one, simply on principle.
    But now that I have purchased movies on itunes that I will not be able to take on DVD into the living room to watch on our big screen with surround sound, I’ll never buy an imovie again.
    Those illegal dvds are looking better and better. They’re cheaper, they will play anywhere, and at least I know my dvd player won’t be selling my web surfing habits to advertisers.

  32. Greg says:

    If I download a itunes movie to my Macbook, can I then move the files to be stored on my portable hard drive so that I don’t take up all the space on my Macbook hard drive? and will they still play?

    And then if I want to watch these movies on my Desktop PC will they play?

  33. chelsey says:

    well what i do is i make a burn folder on the desktop by right mouse clicking and then click new burn folder—>

    next go to itunes and click and drag the files you want to burn and drag them into the burn folder.

    when u have the ones you want in the folder, just click burn. its that easy.

    and you dont need any fancy programs

  34. Kirk says:

    Thanks Chelsey, but the intention is to burn DVDs that you can watch on any DVD player. Your method will work as a backup, but those iTunes videos won’t play on a standard DVD player.


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