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Is it legal to make backup copies of my purchased DVDs and Blu-rays?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / June 1, 2012 8:01 AM PDT

Is it legal to make backup copies of my purchased DVDs and Blu-rays?

I am wondering if there is a way to make backup copies of my media. Back
in the day when I purchased a new album (black acetate records), I
would copy it to reel to reel and put the album away for safe keeping.
I still do the same today and I also make backup copies of all my
CDs. My problem is what can I do to make backup copies of my DVD and
Blu-ray collection. I would hate to see something happen to them and
have to purchase them new again. Is there a way that I can do this?
But first is it legal to do as I get conflicting answers that it is
illegal to back them up even if I purchase them for my use and own
them. What's the difference between this media and my records and CDs
that I have backed up? Please help explain this. Thanks.

--Submitted by Michael
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Is it legal to make backup copies of my DVDs & how to do it?

As the writer states, I have made back-up copies for years for only my own use and never, never to re-sell! In the early '50s, we had a turntable with a special arm and needle that would allow us to record radio programs and music again for our own use on 78 rpm wax records. We now use a Sony DVD recorder with a nice 2" screen so we can see what we are doing and use it mainly to record programs to watch at a later, more convenient date using a DVD/CD player at our "cabin-in-the-woods" that has very limited TV reception. I can play and copy DVDs using this unit. I also have a DIMAX filter that eliminates any video interference we may get from various TV programming. Any original DVDs or CDs we purchase only from properly authorized sites and our copying them is strictly our own business and no one else. We would never attempt or in any way try to re-sell any of these which would be absolutely against our code of fairness. If we have to buy them new, so does everyone else as far as we are concerned.

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by webserf / June 8, 2012 12:12 PM PDT

In short, it IS legal to make an "archival" copy of any DVD/CD content that you've legally purchased/acquired the rights to.

The terms of use of the subject content is what you must adhere to.

Take a look at a Microsoft Office or Win 7 DVD. It states: "Do NOT lend or make "ILLEGAL" copies of this disc". It does NOT state that you cannot make a copy (a legal one~ as a rightful license owner)

The key, is that a user adhere to the user license for/to the software/content that he/she purchases the right(s) to, and protecting it from illegal distribution/use.

Make a copy, and keep (archive) it safely stored away, and not only are you insuring your continued rights to the content but making a prudent decision in protecting your right long-term.

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by webserf / June 8, 2012 12:17 PM PDT

Something I forgot to mention after re reading the Original post.

There has/have been rulings about copying Movie and Music content. The courts HAVE ruled that making ANY copy is illegal, including Archival.

My comment above was more directed to software, and even that might not be 100% correct now as companies aggressively and greedily try to stop honest consumers from protecting licensed content.

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How they make even more $$$
by riggarob / June 9, 2012 12:26 AM PDT

I seem to remember about you being able to take your disc to Best Buy, and they would make a "legal" copy for you for something like 10 bucks. Now let the people that have a better memory than me chime in.

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Legal or ILLEGAL
by seedcake / June 9, 2012 3:14 AM PDT

I agree a hundred percent on what you have said,and i did not know about that legal wording you said Thanks.
The thing that annoys me is you buy the Apps. but has another guy said you could make copies years ago,and there was no fuss that i can remember (Beatles Era) I bought 2 Apps to make personal folders great,only to find out i could not use them,because my daughter-in-law paid for them with her mastercard. I have a different card,and they were downloaded to her computer. Then it dawned on me it`s going on to a different computer,and sure enough i emailed them about the problem,because they stopped me from using them,and would not give me the key code. This happened twice more,and they were not very polite. How many computers is this for,and so on. I just gave up?because they were £10 each. I have bought Photoshop,and you can`t move it to another computer,because again you have to contact them to explain in great detail what you are doing. I paid a lot of money for Photoshop. Example- buy a TV pay the money you get a receipt,you keep the receipt,and it`s probably guaranteed for a year. You can do what you want with it,sell it,give it away. Why can`t it be like that CRAZY?
I will give you an important legal word,Barristers use it in England a lot, is Allegedly. If you use this word at the beginning of a sentence,or at the end of a sentence. You can say what you want,because it means that it is open to argument,and a judge waits for this word. If it`s not used then the judge can use his power to strike it from the record,and then tell the Barrister off,but the damage is done,and a jury has heard it. Thanks again for your words.

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Go by your moral compass
by timhood / June 8, 2012 2:11 PM PDT

Legal or illegal--it's a mess. Forget trying to figure it out. Most people don't care and go by their own moral compass. The movie companies just want to make money off of you, so they want you to keep buying the movie. They wanted you to buy it on VHS. Then buy it again when the better-quality DVD arrived. And buy it again when Blu-Ray arrived. And buy it again when you want it on your iPad. And buy it again when your disc gets damaged. When a Blu-Ray movie costs $25 to buy yet you can burn your own Blu-Ray disc and put it in a case for as little as $1.00 (in low, "home" volume), imagine how cheap it is for them to make hundreds of thousands of copies (or millions).

That's not a reason to steal a copy of a movie that you don't own, but if you believe it's fair to make a copy for your own use and protection of the original, what's wrong with that?

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by squeezon / June 11, 2012 1:01 PM PDT

C'mon sinbad its obvious you made copies! Your jargon "never never" gives you away. Yes you can make copies for your personal use. The government has better things to do then track down someone who made a copy dve
Grow Up everyone!

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Making Personal Copies of Purchased DVDs for Personal Use
by KenW_D / July 14, 2012 6:36 AM PDT

I have always made copies of my digital music CDs for use on my computers media players and to use in my cars etc. To protect myself agains theft, wear and tear. The software to do this had always been readily However, when it comes to movies the same can not be said. Where can I find such software that actually works?
Please let me know as between my dogs & kids, keeping these movies has become an extremely expensive endeavor.

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by LewisHughes1618 / August 4, 2012 1:46 AM PDT

I would suggest SnowFox, it takes about 45 minutes to rip DVD's to a computer and allows you to choose an output file extension, say MP4. This is time saving as it means you have a legal back up copy and don't have to waste more time changing the medium back and forth or multiple files for different players like some software. It's worth the long-term investment.

Kind Regards,

Lewis Hughes

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Is it legal to make backup copies of my purchased DVDs?

In a word, Yes; you can legally make a backup copy of the movie you purchased. As long as it is for personal use. As in, making a copy to use, for yourself, and storing the original disc away. As you mentioned with records. Where it becomes illegal is if you were to sell, or even give away, the copy of the movie.

There is software available and everyone has their favorite program and/or method. The best thing to do is do a search and see what's available, test some, and see what works for you. Most software has a 15 or 30 day trial available. I don't think CNET would like it if I gave you links to any copying software.

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and, if necessary, demand a jury trial
by Cadillac84 / June 8, 2012 11:01 PM PDT

I agree with OldSk001 that you should act according to your conscience (assuming it is a "good" one).

In the unlikely event of Fahrenheit 451, when the gestapo arrives, go in peace; but demand a trial by jury. The concept of jury nullification will prevail because no jury will convict you of making a copy for the kids to watch while the original sits safely in a cupboard. For your defense exhibit, refer to the little girl in the high-chair on the Capital One commercials and explain that she is exemplary of your children!


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That is what I do

I have often wondered the same thing and would like to know as well. I can tell you that I use a program called DVDFab to do just that. When my son was born he loved to watch Finding Nemo over and over and over. One day he figured out how to open the DVD case and broke the disc. As soon as I bought a new movie the first thing I did was googled a way to back up the dvd's so this would not happen again. Is it legal, I have no idea, but I figure I paid for the movie to begin with and as long as I am not distrubuting copies to the general public I should be able to do what I want with MY stuff.

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Great Program!
by Genise1949 / June 8, 2012 10:22 PM PDT
In reply to: That is what I do

I personally could not recommend a better one out there! There may be better ones, but this one is easy to use and does the whole job... Like this person said it is for personal use only and not for loaning out or selling personal only and that should be made very clear... Put your purchased DVD's up to keep safe because I want to keep them forever... so nothing happens to them... just saying...

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(NT) amen I get it and agree with you.
by daviddwp / September 30, 2015 3:58 AM PDT
In reply to: That is what I do
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While I'm Not a Lawyer

My suggestion would be to look up ther Millenium Digital Rights laws regarding copyright. But, to correct something you said, you do not "purchase" a movie anymore. You "license" it and there should be a copy of this somewhere on the jacket of the DVD. It's just like software. You think you go to the store and "buy" software, but you are actually licensing it. Read this:

A long time ago, in the 1960's I remember it was technically illegal to take a book in the library, make photo copies of a few pages and then return the book to the shelves. I guess you were supposed to properly borrow the book from the library and use it at home to read and take notes from or just use the book in the library. Today, with the invention of computer systems that can hold libraries of information, things are not so clear.

My suggestion though is to go ahead and make your copy but do NOT leave it on your computer or anywhere that anyone else can see it. Remember, though, that if there are any bits of software on the disc preventing copying, you cannot legally defeat those protections. It's all in the DMCA.

It was one thing when a person would buy a book, read the book and then give the book to a friend to read. But, with Peer-to-Peer, you could allow millions to read it and that would be a loss for the publishers and the writers. While people think they have the right to do with whatever they "think" they bought, they are wrond and the people getting hurt are themselves because eventually they will have to raise prices and it would mean less money and incentive for the creative people to produce the movie.

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Just say no.
by clamoreaux / June 8, 2012 2:03 PM PDT
In reply to: While I'm Not a Lawyer

While -"Remember, though, that if there are any bits of software on the disc preventing copying, you cannot legally defeat those protections."

I would not knowingly purchase any CD/DVD if I knew it had copy prevention built on. If they do not trust me, I don't trust them.

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Have you purchased a movie DVD?
by remmeler / June 9, 2012 1:04 AM PDT
In reply to: Just say no.

If you have, then you have purchased a movie DVD with copy protection.

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Re: Just Buy Two Copies
by bc66 / June 9, 2012 4:59 AM PDT

If you are concerned as towhether or not it is legal to copy a dvd or blue ray movie for back-up, the answer is just buy two licenses and watch it, with the unopened one locked in a safe place so that no one can touch. That way, you are safe and sound. Have the receipt locked up too to prove that you did buy two copies. Then get up off of your butt and go see your congress man or woman and show them the receipts and all should do so, so that they see where the gaps are in the Millennioum Copy rights laws to make the adjustments necessary to allow for someone to make One (1) copy for backup and be stored in a safe place. Then, seeing as these people are so greedy, it is time for them to pay their fair share of the taxes. Even on judgements that make them wealthy.

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Not a Barrister
by seedcake / June 9, 2012 4:10 AM PDT
In reply to: While I'm Not a Lawyer

I am sorry i disagree with the peer to peer,and that the publisher`s and the writers would be a loss to them. Fact they are already filthy rich. I was brought up in the Beatle`s era,the Stones ect...We scraped our hard earned money to buy records,and books. When you saved the money up you could not get to the shop fast enough to buy the stuff. I live in England,and the public put these people to where they are now. I have yet to hear from any band,writer,or inventor,that has complained about this. The Beatles took Apple to the High Court in London,and lost because has the Barrister pointed out the Judge was about to pull the the plug out of iTunes,and he bottled it. Apple are using groups, music,and bands cannot stop them. These famous groups are not bothered about your ordinary Joe Public. What they are complaining about is these giant companies like Apple making millions out of this racket,because they have the money to back them up allegedly ? Apple also get all there stuff manufactured in China? WHY cheap labour,and then they charge us a fortune for there products. Think about the Chinese people that are committing suicide,and fallen asleep while they are working very long hours?

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Having to raise prices
by jdubow / June 10, 2012 12:21 AM PDT
In reply to: While I'm Not a Lawyer

While many would have you believe otherwise, artists created music, made movies and wrote books long before the DMCA, and will continue to do so if the DMCA goes away. They may even become more creative.

Sony was fined a few thousand dollars for infecting millions of machines with root kits, while file sharers are fined over one hundred thousand dollars per song for a song costing less than a dollar to produce. That sort of says it all, so beware of any activity that gets you on the radar screen of the copyright owners.

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Purchasing v. Licensing
by bobo_boy / June 11, 2012 2:02 AM PDT
In reply to: While I'm Not a Lawyer

The reply by Hforman is essentially correct in that the legal definition rules this world. I work for a software licensing company. Every day I answer the question - Do I own the software? It depends on how you purchase it. If you purchase software via FPP (Fully Packaged Product) from a brick/mortar store, then you have a physical version of the software. However the CD/DVD is only the physical media (vehicle) used to transport the software from the store to your computer. You don't actually "OWN" the software - you have purchased the licensing rights to install the software.
Likewise for audio/video CD's/DVD's, you have purchased the rights to use the content, but not to distribute the content. As the line between a physical disc and licensing the software evolves, we find ourselves being challenged by our definition of "ownership". Mere possession of the physical disc does not absolutely convey ownership rights to a product. The current laws are based on physical ownership and do not accurately address current use models, which is why there are many interpretations of whether it is legal or not to copy an item.

Bottom line is that you are ultimately responsible to decide for yourself, whether you are doing the right thing or not. If it doesn't feel right, chances are it's not.

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Is There a Way? - Yes Is it Legal? - Sorry, but NO!!!

Hi Michael,

After all of the time that has past since you and I were recording backups of our vinyl records, you would think that someone would have come up with a clear cut decision about the answer to your question. I too am puzzled at why our American legal system has been so wishy-washy about this subject. I think that the answer is that everyone wants an all or nothing solution to the problem and nothing is ever that easy.

There are many cases cited where copying for personal use was determined to be OKAY. NOT LEGAL, but OKAY. They call that "Fair Use". The intention is basically that you should be able to purchase a music CD and copy it to your computer so you can use it on your digital music player or Ipod. But when it comes to DVDs and Blu-Ray discs, they tell you in numerous places that it is illegal to make any copy for any reason whatever. Period.

Is the technology out there to do it. Yes, of course it is. In my opinion if you have the ability to do so, and you make an archive of a purchased piece of work (movie) to protect its future usability, you should be able to do so. The law agrees with that opinion in almost every circumstance, but not the Studios who made the movies. They insist that you are purchasing only the right to view the content of that single disc, and if you want to protect your ability to continue to view that disc, you had better take good care of it. Their attitude is, one copy is an illegal copy and they will sue anyone who tries to circumvent that opinion. And they have on numerous occasions.

Take a look around Michael and you will find many programs that can get around the digital rights management on copy protected movies. I'll warn you ahead of time that some of these products produce very poor results, sync problems between picture and sound, fragmented pixels and overall poor video quality. So legal matters aside, you may still not be getting everything you had hoped for.

Good Luck to you Michael. I'll look forward to reading other community member's responses.

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You're probably right about the United States...
by murphyj87 / June 8, 2012 11:18 AM PDT

But laws in the United States are written by corporate lobbyists to benefit corporations, not people. It is definitely legal to copy CDs and DVDs etc. for personal use in Canada, and that is backed up by a ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada, which told your American corporate masters where to put their American copyright law, and it's dark there.

If you want to copy media legally, do it in Canada.

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100% Illegal To Copy any Movie or Music
by philw19642002 / June 9, 2012 10:03 AM PDT

It is actually a federal law and piracy. No copies at all. Period!

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Yes philw, a U.S.A. Federal law.
by robr / June 10, 2012 2:10 PM PDT

Yes philw, a U.S.A. Federal law "period" (called a fullstop in the rest of the English-speaking world). Your laws don't apply outside your country.

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You're probably right about the United States........
by robr / June 10, 2012 1:52 PM PDT

Ditto for Australia. Another contentious one is the nutty U.S. idea of RENEWING COPYRIGHT FOR ANOTHER GENERATION AND TRYING TO BULLY THE REST OF THE WORLD into adopting via so called free trade aggreements. More and more America is passing laws it says apply globally. Get over yourself.

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Only Illegal if You do Harm
by JohnCPR / June 8, 2012 2:57 PM PDT

There is legal advice that states, "Only answer questions that you are asked and never volunteer information." In other words, do not advertise it. If no one else knows, then the information is safe. In the situation of copying DVDs or Blu-rays, if your conscience is clear that you will not profit from the copy or distribute it, then you have nothing to worry about. It usually does not profit a Company to legally prosecute an individual under these circumstances, especially when the person has done no harm and the law is rather vague in this case. Why prosecute if the chance of success is doubtful.

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Faulty Logic
by The Yoder / June 10, 2012 11:24 PM PDT

If that were the case then no one would have been sued so far. Case in point I heard the other day about someone getting sued for 600k for downloading less than 40 songs.
Personally I don't think they (the media companies) deserve more than the lowest cost of the pirated content (i.e. if you can find it in the $5 bin at walmart then they get 5 bucks if they catch you) and legal fees associated with suing your average Joe. I only use the pirating example since this is the view that Hollyweird takes on archival copies... greedy ba$tards

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Copy that program?

Our local sheriff dept for the first time ever --this year will have it's team of PC investigators going under cover to yard sales looking for such items like copies of blu-ray, CD's DVD's computer programs and such. If they catch you they arrest you on the spot and sees anything/everything you have in way of computer crap and it falls under Reasonable cause/Probable cause to search your home without a warrant. So BE CAREFUL.

Remember this:
You Do Not Own your PC !!! or any program you have !!! You Do Not Own any CD's or DVD's or Blu-ray.
You merely pay the legal life time rights and loaner fee's to view it and use it but you will NEVER in any way shape or form Own It. Got to read all that (fine written tiny printed stuff) folks. People click (Accept it) alday long, people see it, but have you ever let your Attorney read it? (You Do Not Own It. Period).

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I do not own my PC hardware?
by Robynsveil / June 8, 2012 9:08 PM PDT
In reply to: Copy that program?

Please explain. Software, yes. I agree. I own a license.

But I own my PC.

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