Burning and ripping – what’s legal, what’s illegal?

Please note that the following explanations are not legally binding advice. For legal questions and extensive legal support, contact a specialist lawyer.

If you want to save files on a data medium, burning programs support you in doing so. With the special software solutions, you can store information on an optical storage medium in no time at all with the help of a drive equipped for this purpose, a so-called burner. This can be for example a CD, a DVD or a Blu-ray. Of course, you can also record applications, documents or data backups onto the blanks, as long as it is not material protected by copyright is involved.

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Who or what is protected by copyright?

International and German copyright law protects the claims of individuals or entities with respect to intellectual creations. The legal framework is designed to ensure that Authors and artists can make a living from the works they create. In addition, copyright ensures large corporations considerable profits over long periods of time through the marketing of intellectual property.

Without clear permission from the current rights holder, many products of the entertainment industry are protected by copyright and may not usually be copied. This applies to most movies, songs, computer and video games, and a majority of software titles.

The private copy in copyright

The law grants the buyer of a product the Right to a private copy a. This means that when you purchase music, movies, games or software, you also get the right to use the contents for the domestic, non-public and non-commercial purpose to copy in a very limited number. However, this only applies if the medium or application is not provided with copy protection. Bypassing the copy protection on a CD, DVD, Blu-ray or external data medium in order to read the information and then burn it is illegal in any case.

The recording and filming of originals also do not allow the legal requirements. This means that it is forbidden to record concerts, television broadcasts, TV series, feature films and cinema screenings with a camera, recorder or smartphone and to burn the recording.

It gets tricky when it comes to ripping audio streams and podcasts. If the provider or broadcaster does not exclude the recording and copying of a broadcast or streams through its terms of use, ripping should be legal. Legally there are in these cases no clear verdict yet. In case of doubt, a judge has a discretionary leeway. It is therefore recommended to read the terms of use of the service or website carefully before ripping a stream. In addition to the legal framework, there are of course also technical requirements that should be observed when burning.

What can I burn with anyway?

When burning to CD, DVD or Blu-ray, it is important to use the to choose suitable blanks. The market is full of different types of recordable media with confusing abbreviations. Among the most widespread formats are DVD-RW, CD-R and CD-RW. But what do the individual abbreviations mean and what can actually be stored on a blank disc?? The following overview gives you a list of the most common formats:

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