Is it Legal to Copy a DVD for Personal Use?

It is likely one of the most common ways that the general public accidentally breaks the law — by making unauthorized copies of popular movies for friends. Although most people mean well when engaging in this activity, it is actually quite illegal. Of note, making copies of DVDs is not always illegal but it is only legal in limited circumstances.

Redistribution versus Personal Use

It is illegal to reproduce a copyrighted work, according to Title 17 of the United States Code. If you have, receive, or are in possession of a DVD box with a label on it that indicates the work is copyrighted, then it is technically against the law to may any copies of the DVD – no matter what the reason. That being said, many people wonder if copying a DVD for personal use – not for redistribution – is allowable. While the government’s main concern is to thwart illegal redistribution of copyrighted work, simply put, it is still technically illegal to do so for personal use. Of note, copying and redistributing DVDs can result in serious consequences if the person is caught because he or she can face multiple charges for each distribution event. 

Legal Copying of DVDs

Not surprisingly, creating your own DVD that is not a copy of a work that has already been copyrighted is not against the law. Likewise, it is not illegal to copy a DVD of work that is not copyrighted. In such scenarios, however, the original creator of the work must be credited. In order to sell copied DVDs, however, the person doing so should be sure to obtain the proper business licenses, if required. Moreover, there may be additional restrictions or licensing requirements based on state or local laws.

Potential Liability

Under federal law, copyright owners are entitled to recover statutory damages. Beyond this, copyright owners may become eligible to recover attorneys’ fees against copyright infringers. Keep in mind that statutory damages are awarded by the courts and the copyright owner need not prove specific loss to be awarded. United States copyright law protects the creative works of its owner including photographs, music, written word, film, and other works. Copyright protection includes exclusive rights to the duplication, redistribution, public performance, and creation of derivative works. While copyright protection technically attaches as soon as the work is created, it is good to also secure state and/or federal registration. Doing so comes with a number of advantages. This includes the ability of a copyright owner to enforce and stop acts of infringement as well as avoiding any disputes about the authorship of the work. 

Copyright protection is the bloodline of the creative industry. Unauthorized reproduction and/or distribution of copyrighted work is indeed against the law. 

Contact a Nevada Attorney

If you have been hurt in an accident in Las Vegas or anywhere else in Nevada due to the negligence of another, contact the skilled personal injury attorneys at Parry & Pfau today. Our skilled attorneys have protected the rights of the injured across the state of Nevada and can do the same for you or your loved one.

(image courtesy of Phil Hearing)