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Is DVD ‘Ripping’ the Same as ‘Archiving?’

Is one approach to DVD copying more "legal" than the other?


ReQuest: We don’t “rip.” We “archive.”

Ripping has become a naughty word in this era of digital rights management (DRM). For that reason, many developers of DVD-copying solutions avoid the term.

Instead, they use terms such as archiving, transferring, storing, backing up, imaging …. Do they all mean the same thing?

I tend to use the terms interchangeably.

In my earlier story about DVD ripping and storage, I quoted ReQuest CEO Peter Cholnoky as saying about the new Intelligent Media Client (ICM): "We do not rip DVDs. The system will create a personal backup or archive of the DVD on the server."

Then I wrote, "Evidently, 'ripping' a DVD is not the same thing as 'archiving" it."

In fact, it is not, according to a follow-up from Cholnoky:

Ripping is NOT the same as what we do. This is not a trivial point! When you rip a DVD you remove CSS [Content Scrambling System], remove copy protection, and reformat the content. Why do you think that programs like ANYDVD are not sold in the US and have been called illegal? Because they RIP DVDs. They remove CSS. It actually is a big difference.

ReQuest makes a bit-for-bit archive with no decoding, no compression, and no removal of CSS. We do not alter the image.

Is it just semantics?

Well, yes, when you consider that the DVD CCA doesn't care what you call it. They're going to litigate licensees (viz. Kaleidescape) regardless if CSS remains intact on copied DVDs, i.e., if they're "ripped" or "archived."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) fights for your digital rights. Visit EFF and become a supporter for its important causes.

As for the bigger legal questions under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the jury is still out.

The DMCA criminalizes the production of technology that allows the circumvention of DRM protections such as DVD decryption software.

By "archiving" DVDs with their decryption "wrappers" intact – by copying "bit for bit" -- ReQuest, Kaleidescape, Fusion and others seem to abide by the letter and the spirit of the DMCA.

Back to the definitions: 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? If so, I will certainly make the distinctions in the future.

Would lexicographers please chime in?

DVD Ripping: The Whole Picture
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.
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.
Understanding the Kaleidescape, 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.
Is DVD 'Ripping' the Same as 'Archiving?'
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?
Can You Be Sued for Helping Clients Rip DVDs?
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!
Developers of movie-ripping products insist their products are legal. Here's how the manufacturers justify their solutions.
Copy Protection Group Sues Kaleidescape (2005)
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.
Would Studios Rather We Buy DVD Ripping Products Offshore?
As studios work to quash legitimate products like RealDVD, offshore providers of DVD ripping software -- like AnyDVD developer SlySoft -- are reaping the rewards.
Industry Insider: DVD CCA Is an Innovation-Stifling Cartel (2005)
The DVD Copyright Control Association (DVD CCA) is a bunch of bullies. The organization manages to coerce all manufacturers of DVD players to sign away their rights to innovation.

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Article Topics

News · Digital Rights · Media Servers · 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]

8 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Joel DeGray  on  09/10  at  02:06 PM

It is not semantics, and in the balance are our rights, what we are entitled too, what is legal and what is theft. Unfortunately by interchangeably using these terms it becomes possible for others to lump these very distinct functions and forms together, calling for a summary judgment on all approaches.

Keeping the “lock” on the data and only licensing the key is simply a dirty technicality of it’s own, preventing the legitimate holder from fully enjoying the rights of ownership and even extending to and limiting fair use.

I applaud all media server companies who try to develop processes which keep the spirit of anti piracy while still growing legitimate markets.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  09/10  at  02:36 PM

Amen, Joel!

At the very least, DVD CCA needs to put a process in place so that they don’t penalize manufacturers who try to take the high road. As it stands now, you are better to NOT license CSS, lest you be sued for breach of contract.

Posted by Scott Desota  on  09/10  at  05:45 PM

Does anyone know what kind of liability me the dealer assumes by selling and installing these kinds of products to end users? Seams scary? I know ANYDVD is illegal in the US, but some industry manufactures rely on it for their product to work, and make the dealer install it?

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  09/10  at  05:51 PM

Scott, thanks for asking. I asked our attorney friends at EFF these very questions.

Their answers will be posted tomorrow.

Posted by Trigger  on  10/11  at  11:28 PM

That’s some old ######## right there.

I have already replaced my records with tapes, my tapes with CDs and my VHSs with DVDs. I can only be expected to pay for the same content so many times.

If i buy a DVD it should be mine. If I choose to encode the sucker to lower Quality to fit on my Phone,MP3,watch or what ever I should be allowed to, anyone that says different is a money grubbing scum bag.

Posted by joel degray  on  09/21  at  09:28 AM

That’s only if you choose to leave the content unprotected. There is a choice to leave it with the copyright unlocked, a better, apropriate action is to re-lock it, post rip. Then you have exercised fair use while upholding copyright and more importantly, copy-responsibility smile

Posted by jay jay  on  03/22  at  06:49 PM

The real story here is whether its “ripping” or “archiving” REQEUST does neither well.

Posted by tookus  on  12/23  at  01:45 PM

joel- you know not what you speak of. I can take a copyrighted DVD, insert it and let it rip to one of my servers. I then can access the “Archived” dvd and play it WITHOUT having to have the disc. so… I could have a field day with netflix if I so chose to.. Tell me again how that isn’t pirace?

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