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Dave Zatz

It's a good discussion to have. I agree that bypassing CSS violates the DMCA which makes ripping DVDs unlawful. But ripping DVDs you own for archival and playback is fine with me - you own it, you can store it in any form you want, and play it back on the device of your choosing. It may not be legal via the DMCA, but it falls under the spirit and intent of Fair Use laws. Ripping rented DVDs seems a borderline... I would be comfortable ripping for a trip as Jason wrote, but I wouldn't be comfortable archiving it long term as I buy the movie.

Hunter McDaniel

There are two reasons why I normally consider ripping Netflix DVDs to be unethical.
a) You are ripping off Netflix, who have based their pricing on the presumption that customers rental rates are limited by the rate at which they can actually watch DVDs. In that sense it is like stuffing your pockets at a buffet with food for the next week.
b) You are ripping off the studio by creating a copy you can keep after relinquishing the orginal - in other words, stealing the added value that distinguishes purchase from rental.

Neither of those apply to the usage described by Jason, though, so I would consider it 'ethical'. I don't have much respect for the DMCA, so the only other consideration for me would be likelihood of getting caught - very low for a situation like this.


The ethics of this stuff gets so complicated that I just throw up my hands. There are so many arguments on both sides that it's impossible to say if copying/pirating is an ethical good or an ethical bad.

For myself, if I like and I want it, I buy it. I'd take no pride telling my friends about my DVD collection if it were all copies (and few are the DVDs that I've watched more than twice).

That said, I'd have no ethical qualms copying a DVD for the scenario Jason describes.

Rusty Ramrod

Ripping DVD's is absolutely in violation of the DMCA. Is the DMCA ethical, absolutely not.

Ripping the DVD's you own is absolutely ethical.

Ripping rented discs legal, no, is it ethical, well, that is up for debate. IMHO it depends on your intended use for the data.

The question is, what is your rental fee paying for?



Not just YES! But HELL YES!

You landlubbers! Arrrgh!


Lets see - ethics has to do with morals, which is in term involved with acceptable behavior in society. Laws are supposed to be codifying society's morals, except we all know laws really are bought by lobbyists.

That aside, it is generally acceptable behavior for people to timeshift (with storage medium changes) movies, rented or owned. TIVO is the rented example, Fair Use backup is the owned example.

The Netflix Terms of Use wording I would guess is so the MPAA lawyers stay away, and Netflix can terminate anyone who copies for commercial purposes. I doubt they would go after anyone who timeshifts. And anyway Netflix is covered money-wise by their throttling procedure.


This is less about Netflix and more about the MPAA and the DMCA. Netflix can handle burners through throttling. The DMCA Fair Use (if it is still there), usually equated to a backup of your own copy...not to rentals. Since you don't own those copies, you shouldn't be making copies of them.

But you are not going to get caught for 3 movies that you aren't sharing and likely won't be prosecuted for it. Not to mention the media companies have been screwing us for years and deserve some comeuppance.

Short Answer - It violates the DMCA, even the fair use doctrine, but nobody cares. What you are saying makes perfect sense in your own mind and you will sleep fine at night...go ahead and rip away.


I think the strict ethical answer would have to be that you must follow the contract that you agreed to, which implicitly includes the legal bindings. However, taking minor exceptions to that seems like a reasonable action since it is very complicated and we don't want to become neurotic.

You didn't produce or own the content, and they don't have any rights to your money. You agree on an exchange.

Therefore, the Calcanis example is strictly unethical, but within the bounds of reasonable variation IMO. Were there some legal variation presented such as a 2$ subscription rider, I think he should feel obliged to select it.

The only thing that bothers me are the slippery slope arguments that point to some challenging nuance, give up on the whole thing, and decide to call supply 'infinite' and prices 'arbitrary' and therefore everything is free for the taking. It's better to agree that there are gradients of unethical behavior.


is it ethical to make a DVD-R copy of a movie off HBO or episodes of the Sopranos?

I work weird hours and so therefore when the Netflix arrive in the morning, I can normally watch the DVDs and get them back in the mail for the 6 p.m. final collection. I can watch 3 titles in a day - especially the Mr. Moto flicks that were barely an hour per DVD. How can they decide that I'm burning?

Or is it a case that if I'm on the 8 out plan and I can churn all 8 copies in a day that they start putting on the flags?


I make copies all the time.


LOL. Freaking tell me when you call in that you copy are discs...and your account will be canceled by the next day. I love when stupid customers mention it.


I certainly hope that the number of discs you can watch a day doesn't send up flags.

I'm a shut-in confined to a chair or my couch, can't drive and have a lot of time on my hands. The mailman, God Bless him, brings my mail to the door on a rural route because he knows I can't get out to the box. He generally gets here at 8 am and my neighbor, God Bless her, runs them over to the PO for me for the last pickup, when I finish some.

I might watch as many as 6 in a day and a half as a result, then while I wait for the next batch I watch the DVD's and tapes I own. Nothing much on TV these days that I want to see.

Netflix has been a godsend for me.



Lets say I want to "go on vacation" or whatever.

Let's say my kids want to watch spykids which I have from netflix or a friend or wherever, but I either have to take it back or want to copy it to a different media so it can be viewed later.

According to Digital Rights I cannot do this legally.

What if I bought a combo vcr/dvd burner for my tv and I have a DVR that I can burn recorded shows to dvd on my new dvd burner.

Let's say HBO is showing spykids and I record it on my dvr and burn a dvd from it.

I am pretty sure this is legal. Is it not?

Why are only dvd's excluded from copying even though I can copy that same movie from another source and be legal.

CSS is why and it is stupid. I can go to jail for copying skykids from a dvd. I copy the same exact thing from HBO and it is legal.

This doesn't make much sense to me.


perhaps they catch the "burners" when they stupidly put the DVD-R in the return envelope.


"Why are only dvd's excluded from copying even though I can copy that same movie from another source and be legal."

It's simple. DVDs are first off, digital, and second, they're encrypted. The "D" in DMCA stands for "Digital" and that's all they're concerned about. DVRs that archive to tape or DVD are analog. When you go out the S-Video or RCA outputs, it's converted to analog.


One Word:



Understood, but the end result is the same. One way is legal. one is not.

The movie studios are upset that their material is copyrighted and shouldn't be copied. If I copy something from tv then this is really still copyrighted material.

So if this is true then DVR'S are illegal.

Funny thing is with Sony.

They own Sony pictures and want to enforce the law.

They make DVD Burners for computers, Dvd burners for TV's, DVR recorders and they make the software to copy dvd's, they even make blank dvd's in all forms. They would probably say this is for data purposes.

If that is true then why can I walk into Best Buy and buy a 100 pack of their brand blank DVD's.

Do they really think that someone needs 100 dvd's at a size of 4.7gb for each blank disk to backup their personal data. Don't know too many people that have 470 gb of personal data.

They are just trying to capture the whole market of the dvd industry, but then point a finger and say you shouldn't do it. Kinda hypocritical.

I agree that DVD or any copyrighted material should not be reproduced without permission, but if they are going to enforce it it has to be across the board on everything from music, radio, tv, tape , dvd, dvr, etc. You can either copy or you can't. You cannot make it legal to reproduce the item one way and illegal to produce the same item another way.


The DMCA is a confusing, nonsensical and contradictory law. If someone purchases a movie, they should be able to do whatever they want with it, as long as they are not making copies to sell. People don't need a library of DVDs sitting on their bookshelf if they can just store it all in a small hard drive.

Getting into the realm of Netflix is borderline-- because you don't actually own the movie. You are paying to own it for a limited ammount of time, and once that time expires, your movie should expire.

So here's a question: If I borrow a purchased DVD movie from a neighbor, but I don't know when I will have a chance to watch it, is it ethical to make a copy of it so that I can return the dvd right away, but watch it when I have a chance? (Keeping in mind that there is a difference here between "ethical" and "legal")


"The only thing that bothers me are the slippery slope arguments that point to some challenging nuance, give up on the whole thing, and decide to call supply 'infinite' and prices 'arbitrary' and therefore everything is free for the taking."

Supply IS infinite. Prices ARE arbitrary. I challenge anyone to refute those statements. The purpose of DRM or encryption is to limit supply, and increase prices arbitrarily. If there was no DRM and our computers obeyed us only, there would be an unlimited supply of music, movies, games, software, etc. They're using technology to limit supply, maintain a monopoly, and gouge consumers. Do you think that's right? Or, should people have access to culture without arbitrary prices? It's no slippery slope. We can change the system so everybody wins. Stop nickel-and-diming us on information. Make it open and abundant. Pay for it with taxes, if necessary. But cap the prices and get rid of the limits.


My father-in-law rips Audio Books onto his iPod before a trip. I think this case was the same and there should be no ethical problem. I think there is an ethical problem with ripping the movie to keep it long term though. That said, I did it once in order to look at a special feature I wanted to check out later, but needed to get the movie back in the post that day.


I have no idea, the DVD explains that it is ilegal to repruduce the dvd. But does that include ripping it????? If you are using it for personal use only and viewed in your own home an only distrubuting material is illegal then whats wrong with it........ If Realplayer has the option to rip a dvd and that's ilegal then realplayer wouldent exist..... The FBI has bigger problems to worry about.....

is there anyway that netflix can tell if you rip a dvd you rent from them


If it's a DVD that you wouldn't buy anyway, be it you can't afford it, can't get it because Best Buy sucks for selection, or it's not worth it, then it is NOT unethical to copy it, because they wouldn't get my money anyway. It comes down to personal moral decisions in a specific context. If I make a copy, or 5000, of Britney Spears' new DVD onto my hard drive, it's just simply a bunch of 1s and 0s on my freakin hard drive, because I wouldn't buy the crappy singer's stuff anyway. So who is losing money? No one. Is it ethical for netflix, or anyone to rent DVDs when they did not pay a penny to produce or manufacture the damn things? Think about it. And why aren't there any CD rental places? because you put visual advertisements on an audio format. What happens when physical media disappears alltogether and everything is digital? So the tangible plastic doesn't even factor into this argument. You can't ever own someone else's intellectual property, only the physical means of playing it.


If someone can help me figure this out...

What is the difference of burning and borrowing a dvd? My friend has P90x and instead of her giving it to me, she said she would burn me a copy because then, she can use it at her house and I can use it at my house.

It almost seems like borrowing a dvd is the same thing as burning it because you enjoyed the dvd without buying it, thus not helping the people who made it, make money.

Any thoughts?

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