Hey Lifehacker, I would like to know what the law says about this situation: I bought a Blu-ray disc and now I want to make a digital copy of it so I can put it on my home media server. Is it illegal for me to download a copy of the movie, even if I have already bought it? Thanks, Ray Of Light
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Stupidly, yes. Under amendments made to the Australian Copyright Act in 2007, it is now legal for individuals to format shift analogue video (such as VHS movies) to a digital format for private and domestic use. However, the same permissions do not apply to DVDs or Blu-ray discs.
Here’s what the Australian Law Reform Commission has to say about DVD/Blu-ray format shifting as it relates to the Australian Copyright Act:
The format shifting exception for films only applies to copies made from films in analog form. It does not allow digital-to-digital copying. This means the exception does not apply to copies made for example, from DVDs and Blu-Ray discs and digital copies downloaded from the internet. One reason given for this limitation is that ‘unrestricted digital-to-digital copying could allow consumers to reproduce the full picture quality and features provided in commercially produced digital film content’.
In other words, buying a Blu-ray movie doesn’t entitle you to create a digital copy for personal use. This is considered a violation of the film’s copy protection even if you paid for the original. Presumably, the movie industry would prefer to make customers “double dip” via one of the various digital distributions models on offer, such as Quickflix, UltraViolet, Google Play and iTunes. (You can find out more about the legalities of format shifting here.)
With that said, you’d have to be extremely unlucky to fall foul of the law over such an inconsequential “crime” as this. To our knowledge, no Australian has ever been convicted for making copies of Blu-ray discs for their media server. It’s basically the 21st century equivalent of taping content off radio or TV — you’re not supposed to do it, but the potential repercussions are so low as to be practically non-existent. Take that for what it’s worth.
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