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DVD Ripping: The Latest on the Legal Front

This compilation of articles on the legality of DVD ripping, and related fair-use cases, will be updated continuously.

Here's where we stand today on the legality of DVD ripping: We're not quite sure if it's legal. (Please check back regularly for updates.)

First, a caveat: While so-called "legitimate" manufacturers of DVD-copying products cringe at the term "ripping," that is the jargon for any type of copying, and so we use it interchangeably with the more savory terms: copying, archiving, importing, backing up, and the like.

The "good guys" say that "ripping" is the illegal way of copying DVDs (damn the decryption schemes!) and that "archiving" is the legal way of copying (decryption provisions remain intact). Wikipedia makes no distinction, so we'll use the terms interchangeably unless someone can point to a higher lexicographical authority.

Those who make products that copy DVDs to a hard drive are prone to lawsuits on two fronts:
  • DVD Copy Control Association (DVD CCA)
    This organization licenses the Content Scramble System (CSS) for decrypting DVDs. To make legal DVD players that play copyright-protected DVDs, manufacturers must license CSS from the DVD CCA.

    The DVD CCA has claimed (in the case of Kaleidescape) that it is a violation of its licensing agreement to make products that enable the copying of encrypted DVDs -- even if the copies are made bit-for-bit, i.e., if the decryption "wrapper" remains intact.

    Kaleidescape won round one of the DVD CCA's lawsuit. The courts ruled that a part of the DVD CCA's rules that may have prohibited DVD copying, was not part of the official licensing agreement that Kaleidescape signed. That ruling was overturned and now a court must decide if Kaleidescape does actually violate the CSS licensing agreement.

    RealDVD, on the other hand, was found to have violated its CSS license agreement with the DVD CCA.

  • Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
    In its "circumvention" provisions, the DMCA prohibits the manufacturing or trafficking of products designed to circumvent measures that protect copyrighted titles.

    Most fair-use-loving authorities will concede that DVD rippers that chuck the CSS schemes don't pass muster with the DMCA.

    But is it circumvention if the manufacturer makes bit-for-bit copies of copyrighted DVDs? The big studios think it is. Under the auspices of the Motional Picture Association of America (MPAA), they sued RealNetworks for its RealDVD ripping software, claiming violations under the DMCA.

    In the most recent decision, an appeals court upheld a preliminary injunction against Real (complete ruling here), meaning it cannot distribute RealDVD until the case concludes. The court concluded that Real violated both contract with the DVD CCA, as well as the DMCA provisions that prohibit the trafficking of anti-circumvention devices.

Below is a compilation of articles from CE Pro, insights from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and court documents pertaining to DVD ripping and related DRM (digital rights management) issues. The listing will be updated continuously, so please check back.

If you have or know of other useful articles, documents or resources, please email them to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Disclaimer: While we strive for accuracy, none of the articles and commentaries here or in other CE Pro stories should be construed as legal advice. Please consult with professionals for proper legal counsel.

Articles, Court Documents, News and Other Resources

Judge issues injunction order against Kaleidescape
-- Transcript of permanent injunction order
-- Kaleidescape, ‘Agents’ Prohibited from Selling, Supporting Movie Servers (article, 3/12/12)
-- Kaleidescape CEO ‘Shocked’ at Extreme Injunction Against DVD Movie Servers (article, 3/12/12)

Kaleidescape vs. DVD CCA: Judge Rules Against Movie Servers
Tentative ruling in landmark DVD-copying case says Kaleidescape knew its movie servers might be in violation of DVD CCA licensing agreement that prohibits copying of DVDs.

Kaleidescape, DVD CCA Back in Court Over Movie Servers
Latest trial could determine if Kaleidescape movie servers breach contract with DVD CCA, licensor of CSS decryption software for DRM; could be landmark case for DVD copying.

Kaleidescape Refuses to ‘Cave to DVD CCA’ on Movie Servers (CE Pro article)
With M700, Kaleidescape continues to store, stream DVDs as usual, despite legal threats from DVD CCA; Blu-ray streaming abides by AACS licensing agreements.

Kaleidescape 300-Disc Vault is DRM-Friendly
Kaleidescape has more details on two Vault Blu-ray storage products, which may ultimately solve issues with DRM and the DVD CCA.


AMX Caves to DVD CCA, Drops MAX Server (CE Pro article)
AMX denies that its MAX media server violates a CSS license agreement with the DVD CCA, but drops the product anyway.

ReQuest CEO on $1,200 MediaPlayer, Legality of DVD Servers (CE Pro article)
Peter Cholnoky discusses new client device for high-performance servers, hints at $2,500 server solution. Concerned about legalities? "Nope. Should I be?"

CEA is Mum on DVD Copying (CE Pro blog)
CEA is not taking sides because the folks who make the DRM rules are some of CEA’s biggest customers and allies.

Kaleidescape Brings DRM to Blu-ray Copying (CE Pro article)
New M-Class players let users copy Blu-ray discs onto Kaleidescape media server, but the disc must be in the tray in order to play it.

vNet Drops Media Server: The End of an Era?
Vibe Movie Server follows Sunfire, Escient and Xperinet into the server cemetery. Will Hollywood and streaming media put an end to movie servers?

Kaleidescape CEO Responds to RealDVD Ruling (CE Pro article)
CEO Michael Malcolm tells CE Pro: 'We don't believe that this settlement has any implications for Kaleidescape's case with the DVD CCA'

MPAA Kills RealDVD for Good: The End of DVD Copying? (CE Pro article)
Instead of appealing a decision that deemed its DVD-copying software illegal, Real Networks caved to the studios and will pay $4.5 million

Understanding the Kaleidescape and RealDVD Cases
What have the courts really decided on DVD copying, and what are the implications for the future? We debunk the myths about the the two lawsuits and clarify the current legal state of DVD ripping

Kaleidescape: ‘Systems Remain 100% Licensed, Legal’(CE Pro article)
Kaleidescape says next court proceedings "will likely take place in a year or two."

Kaleidescape Loses DVD Ripping Appeal Against DVD CCA(CE Pro article) (Kaleidescape press release)(EFF opinion)
Manufacturer of high-end movie servers may now have to stop making its products.

Court Rules RealDVD Software MAY Violate Copyright Laws(CE Pro article) (RealDVD statement) (Court document) (EFF opinion)
Preliminary injunction bars manufacturing and selling of the $30 RealDVD software.

10/28/08 to Present
Real Networks Litigation Updates
Up-to-date listing of legal documents, articles, etc.

Real Expands DVD Lawsuit, Sues Studios Over Antitrust (CE Pro article) (Court Document)
RealNetworks asks permission to include antitrust violations in its suit against the six Hollywood studios and the DVD CCA

Would Studios Rather We Buy DVD Ripping Products Offshore? (CE Pro opinion)
As studios work to quash legitimate products like RealDVD, offshore providers of DVD ripping software -- like AnyDVD developer SlySoft -- are reaping the rewards.

RealDVD Goes to Court Over DVD Ripping Software (CE Pro article)
Will the DVD CCA's injunction against RealDVD continue? At issue: If someone wants to make a copy of something they own, do they have to pay the studios again?


RealDVD v. DVD-CCA: The Duel Begins In Earnest (EFF)

Real Networks Response to motion for preliminary injunction (Court Document)
In an easy-to-read response to the DVD CCA, Real argues how it does comply with the CSS licensing agreement.

Real Networks' Opposition to Preliminary Injunction (Court Document)
Real's attorneys present an excellent case on why the company should prevail against the DVD CCA and studios -- a good read even if you're not a legal eagle.

Court Extends Ban on RealNetworks’ RealDVD Software (CE Pro article)
Follow-up hearing will not be scheduled until after November 17, Judge Marilyn Patel says.

Court Temporarily Bans RealNetworks From Selling RealDVD (CE Pro article)
The temporary ban lasts until Tuesday to give the court a chance to figure out the filings of a lawsuit. The court will then decide to either lift the temporary ban or extend it.

RealDVD Empowers Consumers — NOT
The Copyright Alliance blogs on the RealDVD case.

Why MPAA Should Lose Against RealDVD (EFF)

RealNetworks Preemptively Sues DVD CCA, Studios to Allow RealDVD (CE Pro article)
Fearing lawsuits from DVD CCA and Hollywood studios, RealNetworks asks courts to OK RealDVD copying software; MPAA sues back, asks for restraining order.

MPAA Studios Files Suit against RealNetworks re: RealDVD (PR/statement)

RealNetworks Files Suit Against Hollywood Studios re: RealDVD (PR/statement)

Can You Be Sued for Helping Clients Rip DVDs? (CE Pro article)
EFF attorney Fred von Lohmann explains some of the legal issues involved in selling and installing products that enable users to copy DVDs.

Is Your DVD Server Legal? Manufacturers Say Yes! (CE Pro article)
Developers of movie-ripping products insist their products are legal. Here's how the manufacturers justify their solutions.

Is DVD 'Ripping' the Same as 'Archiving?' (CE Pro article)
Is the term "ripping" generally understood as the "illegal" form of copying a disk? Likewise, is "archiving" known as the bit-for-bit "legal" way of doing it?

Latest on DVD Ripping: RealNetworks, Control4, Crestron, Kaleidescape (CE Pro article)
RealNetworks may be the first big-name brand to offer DVD ripping software, as Kaleidescape case is appealed; Escient, Crestron, Control4, Request take different approaches.


The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) fights for your digital rights. Visit EFF and become a supporter for its important causes.
DVD CCA Appeals Kaleidescape Decision on DVD Ripping (CE Pro article)
Organization claims, "The trial court erred in its interpretation of the CSS licensing agreement."

Escient Says Vision DVD Server Complies with DVD CCA and DMCA (CE Pro article)
Ripped DVDs maintain copy protection; cannot leave the Escient network.

Kaleidescape's Notice to the Content Protection Advisory Council of the DVD Copy Control Association (PR/statement pdf)

DVD CCA Aims to Prohibit DVD Ripping Once and For All (CE Pro article)
Kaleidescape, manufacturer of high-end movie servers, beat the DVD CCA the first go-around. Now the organization, which licenses the DVD scrambling system, is fighting back. So is Kaleidescape, with cries of antitrust.

Kaleidescape Prevails in DVD Ripping Case(CE Pro article)
Manufacturer can continue to make video servers, but Judge did not rule on copyright issues in general.

Court's Judgment in DVD CCA vs. Kaleidescape (Legal judgment, pdf)

Kaleidescape CEO: Trial Does Have Fair-Use Implications (CE Pro article)
DVD CCA says lawsuit is about breach of contract; server-maker says digital rights at stake.

Kaleidescape Faces DVD CCA in Court Monday; Fair Use at Stake (CE Pro article)
DVD CCA wants closed trial; "delusional" that CSS encryption scheme is still trade secret.

Fair Use Act Would Allow In-Home Content Sharing, not DVD Ripping (CE Pro article)
Fair Use Act of 2007 proposes some exemptions to DMCA, but not the one we want.

Supreme Court Rules Against Grokster: What it Means to CE Industry (CE Pro article)

Industry Insider: DVD CCA Is an Innovation-Stifling Cartel (CE Pro opinion)

Copy Protection Group Sues Kaleidescape (CE Pro article)
Kaleidescape has a license from the DVD CCA to employ CSS decoding in its media servers, which it does. Now, DVD CCA is suing Kaleidescape for breach of contract.

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Article Topics

News · Product News · Video · Media Servers · Digital Rights · Legal · Legal · Media Server · Digital Rights · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

4 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Joel DeGray  on  10/09  at  12:45 PM

Ripping and Archiving are 2 seperate functions.

Please do not use a dynamic dictionary resource such as a Wiki for a computer or scientific definition.  If you care to make the inference that in the case of DVDs they are the same, then we are guilty of our own demise, ownership, fair use and any future rights big business chooses to strip away from us.

You can rip a disk with out De-CSS.
De-CSS can take place as a post ripping procedure.

Archiving is the organisation, long term preservation and access of stored data “content”. The term Archiving is absolutely independant of the transitory, technical process used to create or enter it. An archive doesn’t care if it is written or ripped.

Keep it simple, a Stanley screwdriver can be used as a chisel or a prybar (though they warn against), this does not make it propper to use their definitions interchangibly.

Posted by plonk420  on  10/13  at  05:59 PM

the problem is that Sony (ARCCoS) and other companies put extra protection on their DVDs which prevents you from watching DVD-Video discs on DVD-ROM drives which, when they were first made, were authorized to play back DVD-Video with an authorized application. Copy protections pervert the standards upon which DVD-Video was created, and prevents authorized applications from playing back legit content without the help of an illegal (at least in the USA) program like Slysoft’s AnyDVD (which is legal in the country it’s published it) which illegally decrypts the CSS-encrypted DVDs on the fly. it also bypasses the standards-bastardizing copy protection (which i’m not sure is illegal).

Posted by plonk420  on  10/13  at  06:22 PM

the other problem i’m having issues finding articles about it. there is a US law somewhere that allows people to make a backup copy of their software. by a stretch a DVD-Video is “software”. now a precident was set by the videogame industry that said that game cartidges are immune to this “right to backup” because they can’t (easily) get erased. also, the excuse for CD/DVD-based games being exempt is that the publisher (or someone in the game-providing chain) is supposed to be able to provide a replacement for a “reasonable price”. however, common experience is that publishers will not usually fulfil this replacement request (“at a reasonable price”).

i personally like STEAM. i just hope they never disappear (at least without a way to de-DRM their games). for movies and music, i like my physical media, as long as i can do whatever i like with it (ie, format shift to PSP/iPod, or just plain play with video or audio compression). too many music and movie services have come and gone for me to trust digital downloads. even the mighty, everlasting Yahoo!(music) has breathed its last.

Posted by John  on  07/20  at  02:30 PM

I think there’s at least one too many negative in this sentence: “The court concluded that Real violated both contract with the DVD CCA, as well as the DMCA provisions that prohibit the trafficking of anti-circumvention devices.” So ANTI-circumvention devices (which would be devices that PREVENT CIRCUMVENTION) are prohibited? I’d think it would be CIRCUMVENTION devices that are the “threat”.... ?

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