/ Technology

Do new copyright laws mean we can start ripping DVDs?

DVD and popcorn

The government has accepted a number of changes to UK copyright law, including the ability to copy CDs and DVDs for personal use. Ripping CDs is nothing new, but what about copying films from DVDs?

The government plans to reform existing copyright law, after accepting all recommendations put forward by the Hargreaves review.

One of the proposals includes making it legal to rip CDs and DVDs, as long as it’s for your personal or immediate family’s use.

We’ve ridiculed current copyright law before – why is it illegal to make a digital copy of something you’ve legitimately bought? People have been doing this for years – if they didn’t, iPods wouldn’t have taken off like they have.

Bringing law into the 21st Century

Thankfully the government has caught up – it finally wants to bring copyright law in line with the modern digital world. Not only do other countries have “fair use” policies for copying content, nobody in the UK has ever been prosecuted for copying CDs or DVDs for personal use.

However, it’s never been easy to rip films off DVDs. In fact, you’ll need to download “illegal” software to do so, due to all the copy protection slathered on to discs by movie studios.

This is unlike CDs, where we’ve all been able to rip music using software like Windows Media Player and iTunes. This raises the question – will the government’s final proposals actually include the ability to rip films and TV shows from DVDs?

And if not, wouldn’t it be a double standard to only allow this for music CDs? What’s so special or different about films?

Will anything actually change?

If the government actually enshrines these changes into copyright law, will movie studios be required to strip copy protection from their DVDs and Blu-rays in order to let us convert them into digital copies? Or maybe iTunes and other software will enable us to strip this encryption off ourselves?

The film industry is vehemently against format shifting, even for personal use, with Lavinia Carey, director general of the British Video Association, telling the Financial Times that it would be ‘extremely damaging’ and that ‘it’s for the rights owner to decide how to offer the [digital] copy’.

But perhaps film studios will simply have to accept these changes? Do you think you should be allowed to rip DVDs that you’ve legitimately bought for your personal use, and should film studios rethink their copy protection?

Paranoimia says:
3 August 2011

The film industry has no say. People in other countries have been allowed to rip DVDs for years, so there’s nothing they can do to stop the UK law changing.

Besides, I don’t think the law really matters as people in the UK have been ripping DVDs to other formats for years now. The software to do so isn’t “illegal” and is available to purchase over the counter in many PC stores, or from Amazon.

The only reason the movie industry is bothered is that if we format-shift ourselves, they can’t milk us for another £5 on ‘special’ box sets which include their own, often inferior, digital copy.

I also find it slightly hypocritical that a lot of companies involved with music and movie production tell us we can’t copy their movies (even for personal use) while selling us CD/DVD copiers from other arms of the company.

DAVVI says:
8 April 2016

When does this new law become effective!

John says:
3 August 2011

It’s great to have the law changed from something which went out of date with the first tape recorder. It’s just a shame its coming a bit to late to actually mean much.
Format shifting will shortly become obsolete for music. CD’s are fading into none existence – Ford just announced that new cars will soon not have CD players and will have a USB port and use over the air waves for receiving music. I imagine most teenagers have never bought a CD, as most music is bought by downloading it. I’m 30, but I can’t remember the last time I bought a CD.
Being able to legally stream your own music from a server, such as Amazon or Google’s offerings will be a great plus for this law.
Companies like Lovefilm and soon netflix are providing us with video streaming, this will soon negate the need for DVD players in the home and is perfectly legal under current law. Soon we will get rid of the DVD players and performing the format swapping to a video file yourself becomes a bit difficult and unnecessary – its already a digital file.
To answer your question – should we be allowed to rip DVD’s ourselves legally. Yes, But, as someone who has a netbook with no internal DVD drive how can I actually rip the DVD? I actually own an external DVD drive, but laptops without a DVD drive aren’t that uncommon and what if you only have an ipad or a tablet. My point is that we are moving away from solid media to streaming and downloads making this change is the law welcome, but too late.


Yes, it does feel a bit late. Though from a poll in a previous Conversation it seems like most aren’t ready to ditch DVD drives from their PCs and laptops quite yet: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/pc-computer-no-dvd-drive-apple-mac-mini/


All that streaming disappears as soon as you leave the UK on holiday. I can carry a few DVDs (or a few RIPs of DVDs) with me to watch in France but because of restrictive licensing imposed by the “owners” (not the creators, just the parasites), the streams dry up at national borders.

Of course this is the same for many other things, for example since I bought a pan-European licensed car I do not have to dump it and buy a French car to drive in France, but of course I do have to empty all of the UK licensed petrol and put in French petrol. Same goes for that breathing licence I need since I don’t have a French passport. It all makes perfect sense (if you are a lawyer).


Like any of us took any notice of a stupid law anyway?
Just about everyone I know has copied CD into another digital format for personal use.
Selling copies is another matter of course.

DVD’s can be copied but there is sometimes encription to get around but it’s possible with some clever software. Again for personal use only I’d do it regardless of any stupid law. After all you paid for it and won’t be selling copies so no one is losing out.


Ah Britain, more laws than anywhere else, yet less convictions.

To paraphrase Maynard James Keenan “It doesn’t matter what’s right, it’s only wrong if you get caught”.

stoney5829 says:
4 August 2011

silly. it is just a start. here is an example of how big brother wants to control the internet.
when i was a teenager, my father worked for disney world. he was a contactor for the constuction of epcot. some of the worker’s tools were missing (possibly stolen). these tools were suppied by disney as a part of the contract.
disney wanted to charge all the emploees 5 cents a week for those missing tools. the union said “no”. the union realized it was not the 5 cents. it was the act of disney to start the rule.
that 5 cents a week would turn into 10 cents, 50 cents and eventually 5 dollar, even more. i understand taking something is wrong. dinsey was just trying to protect their profit margin. the people taking the tools should have been charged.
this is the governments way of getting it all started. they want to charge everybody for something that only a few people are doing. we are in for it now! the government will be able to stop any isp they want. on the grounds of copyright infringement. our voice has been silenced.


I’m surprised that you think this particular decision on copyright law is going to have a negative impact – from the surface, it looks like good news all the way down.