Ripping DVDs: How legal?

Invader

Ancient Mariner
I've heard that there's some legal debate in the US about whether it's legal to rip a DVD for own use (e.g. for backing up).  So I was wondering, does anyone know what the situation is like in the EU/Europe?  (at least, I'd assume that the EU has a common policy)  And does this apply for all DVDs, or does it make distinctions between movies, concert DVDs, etc?
 

Albie

Keeping an open eye on the Weeping Angels.
Of ripping DVD's, I really don't know the legalities of it all - but if the DVD is protected, then chances are it will be illegal to rip it.

However, why the distinction between DVD's and CD's? If CD's can be ripped by software supplied by your own computer's OS, then why not DVD's as well? Both are copyrighted material, so either have the tool to rip both - or none at all. I dare say someone can explain why this is not the case.
 

Invader

Ancient Mariner
I believe the reason is that DVDs have copy-protection software which prevents straight copying (which however can be circumvented with some programs), wheras CDs don't.  Why DVDs are more protected I have no idea though.  As I understand it, it is basically legal in the US to copy a CD for personal use.  It would also be legal to do this for a DVD, but the thing that is debateably illegal is circumventing the actual copy-protection software on the disc.  Or at least, this is what I have understood from the little reading I have done on the subject.  I've only found American sources, though, and that's why I'm interested in knowing about the EU.
 

Wästed The Great

Minister Of Chicks, Metal&Beer; Cool & Froody Dude
Staff member
Honestly, I think DVD's are more protected is that the movie studios have more power than the music industry does.  I know, from recent research, that one of the reasons that HD DVD failed is that some of the studios (namely Fox) didn't like the fact that HD DVD wasn't region encoded.  DVD's have coding that, in some instances, will not allow a European DVD to be played on a US player.  I think there are 3-4 regions. 

As to the legality of it, I was under the impression that you 'own' the software, and can use it as you, personally, prefer.  Someone else isn't supposed to be allowed to have a copy of it.  However, I know of many people that rent from Netflix and just rip the movies to have in their personal collection (I don't see that as legal at all).
 

Onhell

Infinite Dreamer
There are 5 regions. 1 is north america (US and Canada), 2 is Europe (or western Europe) I forget who is 3, but 4 is Latin America and 5 is Asia... It is stupid though, because my dad has a multi-region dvd player, there are multi-region dvds and one can still buy American DVD (region 1) dvd players to play said DVDs... protection my ass.
 

Wästed The Great

Minister Of Chicks, Metal&Beer; Cool & Froody Dude
Staff member
Onhell said:
There are 5 regions. 1 is north america (US and Canada), 2 is Europe (or western Europe) I forget who is 3, but 4 is Latin America and 5 is Asia... It is stupid though, because my dad has a multi-region dvd player, there are multi-region dvds and one can still buy American DVD (region 1) dvd players to play said DVDs... protection my ass.

OK, this isn't where we get far off topic about your ass, is it?

That is correct, about the multi region and all, but I was under the impression that they weren't that available (could be wrong).  And anyone can buy a US region DVD player, but then it isn't supposed to be able to play other regions, so if you are in Asia, you could only import US dvd's to play.  The studios wanted to release some of their movies in Europe on DVD but not release them in the US (or, at least, not right away).  Also, the editing on dif region DVD's can be different.  There are three, I think, different versions of Fantastic Four available (by region)-- all similar, but with different scenes added or cut (most notably the scene where thing sprays water on Dr Doom at the end).

EDIT:  I found this, which seems that I was incorrect, it is not legal, in the US, to rip dvd's:

The ability to create copies of the media you've purchased for personal use is a long-accepted facet of the fair-use doctrine in U.S. copyright law (at least, it used to be). However, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) states that it's illegal to break the CSS copy-protection mechanism employed by most commercial DVD movies. What does that mean? Most fair-use advocates say that the policy directly contradicts U.S. copyright law, but the DMCA seems to indicate that you cannot make a copy of a commercial DVD, even for personal use, and you certainly cannot give a copied DVD to anyone or watch copied DVD files on your computer. We assume that fair use will eventually catch up and be established as a safety valve for consumers (which has been the pattern with previous technologies, such as VHS), but for now, the territory is still uncertain and a bit dangerous.


The articles that I have read, so far, about the EU seem to allude to each country having the ability to set its laws.  I read about a student in France that downloaded and burned dvds, was tried, and he was found to be within his rights. 
 

Deano

Ancient Mariner
The way I see it is: if you have the technical capability to do it. Do it. Believe me, nobody is going to come after you for it unless you plan on mass marketing your catalog.
 

Hozz

Invader
The DMCA does not have any effect outside the US, and as far as I'm aware, it is legal to make a backup copy of a medium that you legally purchased, be it a rip or a direct copy, at least in the EU. And even if it were illegal, I wouldn't really care, I paid for a copy of the movie/cd, and I'm allowed to do whatever it takes for me to enjoy the contents of it. If that means breaking CSS encryption (which is basically the only way to watch a copy-protected DVD in Linux), then so be it.

The whole "you didn't pay for the content, only a license to watch it" stuff just doesn't cut it with me. If, in the future, when DVD players become obsolete and you're no longer able to obtain a new one when the old one breaks down, how are you supposed to legally watch your DVDs without circumventing the encryption on there? I know this is far off into the future, but the more encryption that gets put on digital media, the more we'll have to worry about it.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
As far as I'm concerned, I paid for it, so it's mine and I can do whatever I want with it.
 

Cornfed Hick

Ancient Mariner
Well, you paid for the disc, but not for the intellectual property on it.  Rather, by buying the disc, you essentially have paid for a license to do nothing more than view what is on the disc any time you want.  The fair use doctrine says, in general, that you can take reasonable actions to facilitate that right, such as copying a new CD onto your iPod or even creating a mix tape to play in your car, for example, so long as you do not impair the copyrights of the owner of the intellectual property.  (That's my gloss on what the law says, rather than a direct quote from any case.)  As my law firm represents movie studios, I will refrain from sharing my personal views about whether the DMCA contradicts the fair use doctrine, other than to point out that the studios' big (and well-founded) concern is actual piracy, not whether you have an extra copy of the same movie for your own personal use. 
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
There's no fair use doctrine in Germany, so I'm fucking the law anyway.
 

Zare

Uniformly distributed hostility
Actually, the key is the EULA (end user licence agreement), one that we always skip when installing something. If EULA states you can't use that software if you're living on a fifth floor and have a yellow cat called Dipsy, you can't legally use that software if you're living on 5th floor with your Dipsy. However, when buying proprietary stuff, you are legaly entitled to ask the sales person a display of EULA before you pay any money for it.

So if DMCA puts some silly clausules for DVDs and such, tough shit for the Americans. On the other hand, i am the owner of the intelectual property, licencing terms are up to me. If you are ok with them, buy the thing, if you aren't, well...nobody's putting the gun on your head and forcing you.

Look at it this way...you purchased a car. You're a mechanic craftsman, so you want to craft replacement parts in case your car goes bad after the warranty cycle. The law prohibits "reverse engineering" of some parts, so if you craft a replacement part based on the original part, you're breaking the law. However, it is for your own usage.

This law about "legal duplicates" is really weird issue. You see, back in the good'ol days you had a Super Nintendo and a cartridge. If that cartridge got broken, you aren't able to play the game you paid for. So you could have one backup cartridge, legally. However, empty carts were expensive, and the equipment for duplication was also very very expensive. People dumped the cartridgers into one file (ROM - a file which contains all program instructions from the cart), and placed it on the web for free download, but you needed to "click here to verify that you posess the original game and will only use this ROM file as a backup". Needless to say, you could lie about it, download the ROM, inject it into an emulator or program an emtpy cart with it, and have a game without paying for it.

That was because the law didn't specify who get's to make a backup copy.

So they changed the laws in many countries, now specifically stating that you need to make the backup on your own, thus putting ROM scene from grey zone to illegal zone.

Now, all this text aside, the thing "you can't legally make a backup copy" is just industry bullying little people. You see, if you purchased Rock In Rio DVD, and the original disc got scrached beyond repair, if you can't have a legal copy, you'd need to buy the DVD again, thus giving money to the industry again. Which is total bullying.

I have an original Somewhere In Time vinyl. I transferred that vinyl into a digital form. I wanted to preserve the thing, because i don't have a 1000 euro record player, and i want to have the authenic vinyl feel while listening the stuff from my computer or the portable player. I didn't get a "usage licence" saying that i can only listen the stuff on the record player.

So aside the state law, and inside the moral laws, you are damn entitled to make a backup copy. And you're also entitled to make modifications for personal use. I mean, you can't reverse enginner an application, but if you do, let's say that you change the menu strings, you're using the thing you paid for in your own quarters, so what the f***? It would be morally wrong to resell modified things or spread them for free.

So, IMHO, make copies for your own use, for any kind of reason.
 

Yax

Ancient Mariner
Here's the situation in Sweden: You are allowed to to whatever you damn please, as long as it is for own usage. You can rip DVD's and burn it onto a new DVD, as long as you don't sell it. Oh, and you can give it for free to your mates too.

So: You can rip it and so on, s long as you don't make any financial gain on it, or distribute it (giving it to friends is as stated allowed). 
 
Top