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Burning DVDs—How Legal it is

The subject of burning DVDs to make back-up copies of media/data is a really tricky subject. It is a fact that consumers are allowed to make backup copies of data that they have already paid for. Data of course includes songs and videos that customers usually purchase at the store.

There are a lot of good points that go into the discussion and sometimes defining what is legal and within the bounds of human and business rights is sometimes like a delicate balancing act. The customers have the right to preserve the goods (i.e. data) that they purchased. On the other hand, makers of the said media also have intellectual property rights.

The Initial Stance of the Fair Use Doctrine

About a decade ago, consumers enjoyed the ability to create copies of the media that they purchased. It makes sense to protect one’s investment, doesn’t it? The original stance of the fair use doctrine the copyright laws of the United States assures this to consumers as long as the media being copied is for personal use only.

Users would argue that they didn’t copy the data or media in order to resell it. Customers made copies of their DVDs so that they would still have the media that they paid for even if the original disc that contained it has been worn out. After all, customers paid for the media or data as well as the disc where it was stored. If they were only paying for the DVD disc that contained the media then it would have been significantly cheaper, right?

The 321 Studios Case

DVD X Copy and DVD X Copy Xpress were two software applications that had quite a following right before the early days of 2004. These two software applications were the products of 321 Studios. Just like any other software product of their class, they allowed consumers to make copies of different types of media, which includes the ones that had copy protection.

A case was filed in a San Francisco court that challenged the legality of these two DVD ripping software programs. Long story short, on February of 2004 the Federal judge ruled that both of these software applications were illegal. They were deemed illegal not because they had the capability to copy media.

Now this is the point that needs to be emphasized – the two aforementioned DVD ripping software were pronounced illegal because they circumvented the copy protection technology/anti-piracy technology used in copyrighted media and not because they had the capability to make DVD copies.

Although that may seem to be just dancing around on a hairline of a difference between what can and what cannot be done, this ruling became the spark that ignited a fire, so to speak. 321 Studios was forced to create a new suite of applications that did not have any DVD ripping capabilities.

The judge’s ruling was based on the DMCA or the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which specifically states that breaking the CSS copy protection of commercial DVD movies is absolutely illegal. The interpretation of this particular stipulation of the law flared some good arguments on both sides of the fence.

A lot of advocates of the fair use policy have since said that the DMCA seems to say that it is illegal to make copies of media that consumers have purchased – a direct contradiction of copyright laws in the United States.

The Situation at the Moment

It may take time before the dust will completely settle and the fair use policy will catch up to stand by the basic rights of consumers. For now, it’s safe to say that it is perfectly legal for consumers to go about burning DVDs from their very own home movies. If DVD ripping or circumventing copy protection will be involved then that will be absolutely illegal given the current tenets of copyright laws and policies.

Author Bio:- Charlie is a free lancer writer and content builder of http://www.howtocleanit.org/.

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