Converting Commercial VHS Tapes To A Digital Format

by on November 23, 2007

Q: What device can be used to convert VHS tapes to digital? I have over 300 commercial VHS tapes. I know that the VHS/DVD recorder does not copy copyright protected tapes.

A: Warning: what you want to do is illegal in the United States and many other countries! The most common copy protection used on VHS tapes is called Macrovision. Read the Analog Copy Prevention section of the previous Macrovision link for some very useful information. Using the link and some other resources on the internet, I have uncovered two possibilities for you.

The best method appears to be the use of a device called a time base corrector. Some web pages have called these devices legal, but it seems unclear to me. A less expensive alternative is a device called a video stabilizer. My understanding is that video stabilizers are now illegal in the United States. But the use of an internet search engine quickly reveals several such devices for sale in the 25-50USD range. You may also want to consider investing in a VCR made prior to 2002. Older VCRs in the United States were not required to comply with Macrovision standards, although many did. Newer VCRs in the United States must comply with Macrovision standards. Of course, older VCRs will not offer the same audio and picture quality of newer VCRs.

Good Luck!