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."
Julie Jacobson · September 10, 2008

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?

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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at

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  Article Topics

News · Digital Rights · Legal · Media Server · All Topics
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