So, a couple weeks ago I saw a good sale on a new Pioneer Blu-ray burner. And I knew from the reviews that it did not come with any software. But I figured: Surely, there's a freeware or cheap software solution to merely play blu-ray movies. Though, I figured I might end up paying for good software to burn them.
Indeed, I did some searches and I found several blu-ray player solutions, including a technique to get them to play in the VideoLan (VLC) Player.
So, I install it into my new PC and I burn some CDs and DVDs, partly to test it out and partly because I needed them. But then I tried some tips in an effort to enable playing Blu-ray movies in VLC. And I fully expected it to work on a movie that was rented... But no go.
So, I googled and found some other solutions. I installed some free media players that claimed Blu-ray support, such as 1MediaPlayer. Still nothing. (I tried it with a DVD and it worked fine.) And I also tried some codec packs (such as "Windows 8 Codecs Pack") that claimed support for Blu-rays. Nothing, not even after installing Media Player Classic.
After some reading of program descriptions, one of the free players mentioned "A decryptor is needed when playing protected disks". And that got me thinking: Perhaps some sort of "decryptor" software is needed? The forum threads about the VLC trick for blu-rays described how to "Watch encrypted Blu-rays". Perhaps their decrypting technique was made obsolete?
After a search, I did see that some of them claimed it allowed the playing of Blu-ray movies. Though, the main focus for decryptors seems to be for copying and ripping. And searching for Blu-ray decryptor software was a whole other headache, especially when trying to search for free solutions without malware or without installing junk. But I noticed nearly everything available fit into three categories:
1) Commercial, with a big price tag. (Typically, $40 or more. Sometimes much more.)
2) Trial: Very limited functionality unless you buy.
3) Outdated: Most free solutions date from 2012 or earlier. And many sites are gone.
But then I came across this thread about BDFree:
The BDFree site seems to be gone, making the software worthless. But, finally, I understand what I'm up against. Though, I sure can't comprehend how the industry can make major changes to their copy protection methods with every release cycle without completely breaking the ability for older Blu-ray players to play newer legitimate disks. Do they expect owners to update their player's firmware on a regular basis somehow?People in the past have tried to release free BD decrypters and in EVERY case the project was abandoned. The reason is that ARCCOS and other "bad sector" copy protection methods make major changes with every major BD release cycle and it takes a long time to make the updates to deal with the new copy protection methods. AnyDVD and DVDFab basically buy new releases when they come out with new copy protection variations and spend time analyzing the new discs and figuring out how to defeat the new methods. All the free projects gave up after a few months of doing this.
I'm not even trying to copy a disk, though. I just want to play a rented movie, darn it.
Please, can anyone point in the right direction to get Blu-ray movies to play without breaking the bank? If there's no solution for VLC that works anymore and no free solution, what's the cheapest solution that works? I paid good money for this Blu-ray burner and I would feel completely jipped if I have to shell out another $40 or $50 just to get it to play movies.
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Last edited by bsperan; 28th Jul 2014 at 04:56.
Another reason why I was hoping for HD-DVD to win the war.
Using free blu ray players MAY work. Or it may not. "MAY" means possible, not "with 100% certainty". Honestly, I have the impression that in this case "may" probably means less than 50% chance it works. Yes, we know very well about how difficult it is to get VLC to do this. You may not ever get it working. It's so much bother that I've never tried it. I bought ArcSoft's Total Media Theater. Total Media Theater to superior to all of its commercial competition for a variety of reasons.
To answer some of your questions...
BluRay encryption was designed so that the players could handle constant changes. Usually firmware updates aren't required for the players. The bad sector stuff exploits a difference in the way that PCs and standalone hardware players read discs and it was designed so that players wouldn't have a problem with it but PCs would because of the different way that they read discs.
ImgBurn (free) to burn Blu-Rays. Nothing you can buy is any better.
2) If you insist on menus for playing BDs on your computer, you have no option other than payware. IMO, TMT is far better than the others (PowerDVD, WinDVD).
3) If you can do without menus, free options open up. Many members here dislike menus for playback of BDs on computer. Surely you have a standalone player as well if you want to view any extras? (Personally, I think extras are usually uninteresting, and one view is enough in any case.)
Rip and repackage the main movie to MKV container using MakeMKV. It's free while it's still beta, which it's been for years now. Though you'll have to go to their website occasionally to get a new key. MKVs can be easily played with free software players like MPC-HC, MPC-BE, et. al. Note that MakeMKV can also rip full disc to files.
Or use DVDFabPasskey (running in the background) with Clown_BD to rip main movie to Blu-Ray folder. Then re-encode with BDRB to fit it on a single-layer blank (BD25) to burn a backup. Or re-encode to smaller size with, say, RipBot, Handbrake, et. al. and output to MKV or MP4. When the trial for Passkey expires, it becomes the "lite" (free) version, which should still work with this method.
The thing is, most new copy protections are BD-J and BD+, and they screw the structure. (Look at the changelogs of the major BD decrypters and you'll see they're often updated for individual movies using new versions of those protections). Strip out the main movie and they don't come into play. I used DVDFabPasskey for several years with updates turned off and only recently needed to update for a new MKB (master key block) version. Again, I never do full disc except for episode discs and sometimes not even then, ripping episodes individually.
Many members here are moving away from disc backups. Hard drive space is relatively cheap, and you don't have to futz with discs or worry about Cinavia, nor be annoyed by long load times. Therefore, the first thing they do with a new disc is rip it to their computer, put it in MKV container and put it on their servers. I have many discs I've never viewed on a standalone player.
Last edited by fritzi93; 28th Jul 2014 at 08:10. Reason: clarificationPull! Bang! Darn!
MakeMKV can emulate the libaacs and libbdplus libraries which let VLC play Blu Ray discs directly. I've set it up at least twice before and it's really quite easy but I've never found any practical use for it.
I've used AnyDVD HD and VSO Media Player and it works fine. Unfortunately, you do need a decryption program for PC playback. I've tried VLC for playback, but it seems to have a bit more overhead and needs a fast PC to function well.
Really, your best solution for just playback is to purchase an inexpensive set top BD player.
DVDFab Passkey Lite (free) combined with Media Player Classic Home Cinema or Potplayer will give you a combination that will work for most Blu-ray as long as you don't need menus.
DVDFab Media Player claims to have support for menus, and is free to use for ripped files, but it is not very good and doesn't always find the menu. Arcsoft TMT is the best of the software players if you need menu support, but is also fairly expensive.
I just created symbolic links called "libaacs.dll" and "libbdplus.dll" in my VLC(x64) directory, each pointing directly at "libmmbd64.dll" in my MakeMKV directory and then played an interlaced VC-1 Torchwood Blu ray just fine. Making two copies of libmmbd.dll in the VLC directory and renaming them would also work.
Theoretically I should now be able to play anything MakeMKV is capable of ripping, just like the last two times I did this...
(I'm pretty sure the same procedure will work with XBMC.)
Apart from the limited PC solutions offered (pain to stay up to date), I'll second the opinion that almost any standalone BD player will play disc content without constant firmware updates. In fact, the very cheapest BD players (sold at supermarkets) have absolutely no firmware update path. There are a bunch of clones all made by the same factories and re-badged all over the world. e.g. the cheapest Pioneer standalone (Australasia) had exactly the same software interface/firmware (and I suspect hardware) as my "no name" multi region clone. These super cheap ones were all a little buggy on the media player side (some lock-ups), but BD*/DVD disc playback works perfectly.
I mostly don't bother playing BDs on the PC anymore, and just use my standalone players. Although the PC is hooked up to the TV, the standalones still give me a smoother & clearer playback experience - and play media files well too.
All we need is some bright spark to debug the various custom Linux OS/firmwares in one of the BD players to have full access to all the secrets. Anyone have any links to any "open OS" standalone BD players?