Reverse detail from Kakelbont MS 1, a fifteenth-century French Psalter. This image is in the public domain. Daniel Paul O'Donnell

Forward to Navigation

Converting File Types and Media

Posted: May 25, 2009 17:05;
Last Modified: May 25, 2009 17:05


The great advantage of the digital revolution is that it allows us to repurpose data—convert it from one format to another, and alter the medium of delivery, not to mention make backup copies. Not all industries or content providers are as willing to let their users do this with data they have purchased. In Canada, however, a levy has been levied on blank recording media for many years. In exchange for paying this levy, it is broadly-speaking legal in Canada to make copies of audio recordings of music from any source provided these copies are made for private use. A detailed discussion can be found here. Many other countries have similar legislation. Remember that no site, including this one, can substitute for professional legal advice from a copyright lawyer..

Here are various tools and methods for manipulating data:

Audio from YouTube

What if you want to port the sound from a YouTube video to your Digital Audio player? maybe you want to make a ring tone from that video you uploaded of Uncle Al snoring? But you can’t use the whole thing… you just need the audio portion of the track.

If you are a Linux user, there is an app for that: UTube Ripper

Otherwise, there are some online services that do the same thing: e.g. and

Editing mp3s.

So once you’ve got that MP3 of Uncle Al snoring, how do you edit it into a pithy ring tone?

The best method I know is using the command-line and the Linux utility mpgtx.

e.g. mptsplit input.mp3 [00:00:20-00:00:58] -o output.mp3

With this method it is possible to cut MP3 files extremely accurately, catching the beginning of individual beats or notes.

Backing up DVDs

If you have a large collection of DVDs, it is probably a good idea to make backups of them. If you back them up as disc images, you can store your entire library on a computer hard-drive, avoiding damaging your original discs through wear and tear.

You can also back your DVDs up to a disk, though doing so will require you to reduce the size of your commerical DVDs, as most commercial DVDs carry far more data than the kind of DVDs you can write to using your computer. Commercial DVDs can get as large as 9GB; consumer-writable DVDs contain under 4GBs of data.

Backing up DVDs may or may not be legal in your jurisdiction. If you are able to make backups, it may not be legal for you to attempt to rip from copy-protected or encrypted disks. You should consult a professional for advice.

If you are able to rip and backup DVDs, you can rip them as disk images (.iso) or convert them to a smaller more portable format. Ripping as disk images likely to be best in terms of quality, as you will not be reducing the amount of information. In many cases, you can preserve features such as alternate languages and subtitles.

For this, you will need software that is designed to do the job: dvd::rip and k9copy are two commonly used and effective programmes. To play the images under linux, yous VLC reader.


Comment [1]

  1. Sharon Goetz (Tue May 26, 2009 (09:51:59)) [PermLink]:

    To extract sound from .flv, if for some reason the online services don’t suffice, FLV Audio Extractor is a good freeware choice for Windows users:

    To edit mp3 files (chiefly to create ringtones from CDs I own legally), I’ve used NCH WavePad, which has a no-cost “lite” version, though I’ve found it worthwhile to register:

    VLC Player is great. I could list a couple of Windows apps that help with ripping and backing up DVDs (both film and video game) for personal use, but I’m not sure whether it’s legal to do so in my jurisdiction. :P Interested parties might consult the tutorials at, however.



Textile help

Back to content

Search my site


Current teaching

Recent changes to this site


anglo-saxon studies, caedmon, citation, citation practice, citations, composition, computers, digital humanities, digital pedagogy, exercises, grammar, history, moodle, old english, pedagogy, research, student employees, students, study tips, teaching, tips, tutorials, unessay, universities, university of lethbridge

See all...

Follow me on Twitter

At the dpod blog