Cd ripping

This article is about copying digital media. For other uses, see Rip.

Ripping is the process of copying audio or video content to a hard disk, typically from removable media such as compact disc (CD) or DVD, although the word refers to all forms of media. Despite the name, neither the media nor the data is damaged after extraction. Ripping is often used to shift formats, and to edit, duplicate or back up media content. Digital Audio Extraction (DAE) is a more formal phrase applied to the ripping of audio CDs. A rip is the copied content, in its destination format, along with accompanying files (such as a cue sheet or log file from the ripping software).

Ripping is distinct from simple file copying, in that the source audio or video often isn't originally formatted for ease of use in a computer file system; ripping such data usually involves reformatting it and optionally compressing it during the extraction process.

The source material being ripped need not be digital; ripping can involve digitizing audio and video originally stored on analog formats, such as vinyl records.

Ripping software

A CD ripper, CD grabber or CD extractor is a piece of software designed to extract or "rip" raw digital audio (in format commonly called CDDA) from a compact disc to a file or other output. Some all-in-one ripping programs can simplify the entire process by ripping and burning the audio to disc in one step, possibly re-encoding the audio on-the-fly in the process.

For example, audio CDs contain 16-bit, 44.1 kHz LPCM-encoded audio samples interleaved with secondary data streams and synchronization and error correction info. The ripping software tells the CD drive's firmware to read this data and parse out just the LPCM samples. The software then dumps them into a WAV or AIFF file, or feeds them to another codec to produce, for example, a FLAC or MP3 file. Depending on the capabilities of the DAE software, this ripping may be done on a track-by-track basis, or all tracks at once, or over a custom range. The ripping software may also have facilities for detecting and correcting errors during or after the rip, as the process is not always reliable, especially when the CD is damaged or defective.

There are also DVD rippers which operate in a similar fashion. Unlike CDs, DVDs do contain data formatted in files for use in computers. However, commercial DVDs are often encrypted (for example, using Content Scramble System), preventing access to the files without using the ripping software's decryption ability, which may not be legal to distribute or use. DVD files are often larger than is convenient to distribute or copy to CD-R or ordinary (not dual-layer) DVD-R, so DVD ripping software usually offers the ability to re-encode the content, with some quality loss, so that it fits in smaller files.


When the material being ripped is not in the public domain, and the person making the rip does not have the copyright owner's permission, then such ripping may be regarded as copyright infringement. However, some countries either explicitly allow it in certain circumstances, or at least don't forbid it. Some countries also have fair use-type laws which allow unauthorized copies to be made under certain conditions. As mentioned above, circumventing copy protection mechanisms, such as the encryption used on most commercial DVDs, may also be illegal in many countries.


In Australia[1] and New Zealand[2] a copy of any legally purchased music may be made by its owner, as long as it is not distributed to others and its use remains personal. In Australia this was extended in 2006[3] to also include photographs and films.


In Spain, anyone is allowed to make a private copy of a copyrighted material for oneself, providing that the copier has accessed the original material legally. A directive of the European Union allows its member nations to instate in their legal framework this private copy exception to the authors and editors rights. If a member State chooses to do so, it must also introduce a compensation for the copyright holders. In all of Europe, except for a few exceptions (the UK, Malta...) the compensation takes the form of a levy excised on all the machines and blank materials capable of copying copyrighted works. Making copies for other people, however, is forbidden, and if done for profit can lead to a jail sentence. This is also true for Sweden and Poland and most European countries. All of them have introduced a private copying levy, except for Norway, that compensates the owners directly from the country's budget. In 2009 the sum awarded to them was $55 million.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, it is illegal to make private copies of copyright material, without express permission of the copyright owner. This includes CD, DVD and BluRay copies for personal use/backup.[4][5][6] There is no provision in the UK Digital Economy Act of 2010 allowing this, although this is a popular misconception.

According to one survey, 59% of British consumers believed ripping a CD to be legal, and 55% admitted to doing it.[7][8]

United States

U.S. copyright law (Title 17 of the United States Code) generally says that making a copy of an original work, if conducted without the consent of the copyright owner, is infringement. The law makes no explicit grant or denial of a right to make a "personal use" copy of another's copyrighted content on one's own digital media and devices. For example, space shifting, by making a copy of a personally-owned audio CD for transfer to an MP3 player for that person's personal use, is not explicitly allowed or forbidden.

Existing copyright statutes may apply to specific acts of personal copying, as determined in cases in the civil or criminal court systems, building up a body of case law. Consumer copyright infringement cases in this area, to date, have only focused on issues related to consumer rights and the applicability of the law to the sharing of ripped files, not to the act of ripping, per se.

Recording industry representatives have claimed (in the context of Atlantic v. Howell) that ripping may be regarded as copyright infringement.[9] However, there is no legal precedent for this and, even within the industry, this is the minority view. In oral arguments before the Supreme Court in MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., MGM attorney Don Verrilli (later appointed United States Solicitor General by the Obama administration), stated: "And let me clarify something I think is unclear from the amicus briefs. The record companies, my clients, have said, for some time now, and it's been on their Website for some time now, that it's perfectly lawful to take a CD that you've purchased, upload it onto your computer, put it onto your iPod. There is a very, very significant lawful commercial use for that device, going forward."[10] Nevertheless, in lawsuits against individuals accused of copyright infringement for making files available via file-sharing networks, RIAA lawyers and PR officials have characterized CD ripping as "illegal" and "stealing".[11][12] Asked directly about the issue, RIAA president Cary Sherman asserted that the lawyers misspoke, and that the RIAA has never said if it was legal or illegal, and he emphasized that the RIAA had not yet taken anyone to court over that issue alone.[11]

Fair use

Although certain types of infringement scenarios are allowed as fair use and thus are effectively considered non-infringing, "personal use" copying is not explicitly mentioned as a type of fair use, and case law has not yet established otherwise.

Personal copying acknowledgments

According to Congressional reports, part of the Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA) of 1992 was intended to resolve the debate over home taping. However, 17 USC 1008, the relevant text of the legislation, didn't fully indemnify consumers for noncommercial, private copying. Such copying is broadly permitted using analog devices and media, but digital copying is only permitted with certain technology like DAT, MiniDisc, and "audio" CD-R—not with computer hard drives, portable media players, and general-purpose CD-Rs.

The AHRA was partially tested in RIAA v. Diamond Multimedia, Inc.,[13] a late-1990s case which broached the subject of a consumer's right to copy and format-shift, but which ultimately only ascertained that one of the first portable MP3 players wasn't even a "digital recording device" covered by the law, so its maker wasn't required to pay royalties to the recording industry under other terms of the AHRA.

Statements made by the court in that case, and by both the House and Senate in committee reports about the AHRA, do interpret the legislation as being intended to permit private, noncommercial copying with any digital technology. However, these interpretations may not be binding.

In 2007, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a government office which requires business to engage in consumer-friendly trade practices, has acknowledged that consumers normally expect to be able to rip audio CDs. Specifically, in response to the Sony BMG copy protection rootkit scandal, the FTC declared that the marketing and sale of audio CDs which surreptitiously installed digital rights management (DRM) software constituted deceptive and unfair trade practices, in part because the record company "represented, expressly or by implication, that consumers will be able to use the CDs as they are commonly used on a computer: to listen to, transfer to playback devices, and copy the audio files contained on the CD for personal use."[14]

Circumvention of DVD copy protection

In the case where media contents are protected using some effective copy protection scheme, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 makes it illegal to manufacture or distribute circumvention tools and use those tools for infringing purposes. In the 2009 case RealNetworks v. DVD CCA,[15] the final injunction reads, "while it may well be fair use for an individual consumer to store a backup copy of a personally owned DVD on that individual's computer, a federal law has nonetheless made it illegal to manufacture or traffic in a device or tool that permits a consumer to make such copies."[16] This case made clear that manufacturing and distribution of circumvention tools was illegal, but use of those tools for non-infringing purposes, including fair use purposes, was not.

The Librarian of Congress periodically issues rulings to exempt certain classes of works from the DMCA's prohibition on the circumvention of copy protection for non-infringing purposes. One such ruling in 2010 declared, among other things, that the Content Scramble System (CSS) commonly employed on commercial DVDs could be circumvented to enable non-infringing uses of the DVD's content.[17] The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) hailed the ruling as enabling DVD excerpts to be used for the well-established fair-use activities of criticism and commentary, and for the creation of derivative works by video remix artists.[18] However, the text of the ruling says the exemption can only be exercised by professional educators and their students, not the general public.

Distribution and file-sharing

Regardless of whether ripping unencrypted media for personal use is infringement, musical works and videos are sometimes not ripped solely for personal use, but are also distributed to others. Unless this distribution fits into one of few circumstances, it may be a copyright infringement under U.S. copyright law, as distribution is one of the exclusive rights granted to copyright holders.[19] This is regardless of whether the distribution is commercial or free of charge.

As with copying, fair use provisions allow for certain types of distribution, and it is legal to distribute works that are in the public domain or that are available under a license that specifically grants distribution rights, such as various Creative Commons licenses.

Distribution has not yet been fully defined with regard to online file-sharing. For example, it is not explicitly forbidden to put copyrighted content in a place where it can be accessed by the public; nor to advertise or facilitate the advertising of its availability; nor, generally, to link or otherwise facilitate access to it via a file-sharing network and its protocols and related software. However, some copyright owners and industry trade groups continue to promote legislation and/or establish a body of case law in which these and other methods of "making available" of content is interpreted to be a form of distribution, and thus an infringement of the copyright owner's rights to exclusive distribution, regardless of whether actual public access or copying ever occurs.

See also


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