321 Studios, the company behind DVDX Copy and DVDX Copy Express, are currently in legal battle with MPAA over the issue of being able to backup DVDs.
Also go read about the MPAA vs. DECSS... I think it is appealed now and they are still going after that kid, even though he ad won.
Other programs do not want to take the risk of decrypting the DVD. Making a program that just transcodes is not illegal.
You can use free DVD ripping programs, like DVD Decrypter which are available for download.
DVDShrink is free, and decrypts the DVD, but I wonder how long before MPAA goes after them. I guess it depends on the country of origin. If you are in USA then you have the DMCA to deal with.