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What is VOB

VOB (Video Object) is the container format in DVD-Video media. VOB can contain digital video, digital audio, subtitles, DVD menus and navigation contents multiplexed together into a stream form. Files in VOB format may be encrypted.

VOB files may be accompanied with IFO and BUP files. These files respectively have .ifo and .bup filename extensions. IFO (information) files contain all the information a DVD player needs to know about a DVD so that the user can navigate and play all DVD content properly, such as where a chapter starts, where a certain audio or subtitle stream is located, information about menu functions and navigation. BUP (backup) files are exact copies of IFO files, supplied to help in case of corruption. Video players may not allow DVD navigation when IFO or BUP files are absent. Images, video and audio used in DVD menus are stored in VOB files.

Almost all commercially produced DVD-Video titles use some restriction or copy protection method, which also affects VOB files. Copy protection is usually used for copyrighted content.

Many DVD-Video titles are encrypted with Content Scramble System (CSS). This is a data encryption and communications authentication method designed to prevent copying video and audio data directly from the DVD-Video discs. Decryption and authentication keys needed for playing back encrypted VOB files are stored in the normally inaccessible lead-in area of the DVD and are used only by CSS decryption software (e.g., in a DVD player or software player).

If someone is trying to copy the contents of an encrypted DVD-Video (e.g., VOB files) to a hard drive, an error can occur, because the DVD was not authenticated in the drive by CSS decryption software. Authentication of the disc allows the copying of individual VOB files without error, but the encryption keys will not be copied. If the copied undecrypted VOB files are opened in a player, they will request the keys from the DVD-ROM drive and will fail. There are many CSS-decrypting programs, or ripping software, such as libdvdcss, DeCSS, DVD Decrypter, AnyDVD or DVD Shrink which allow a protected DVD-Video disc to be played without access to the original key or copied to hard disk unscrambled. In some countries, their usage can be a violation of law (e.g. for non-personal use).

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