Is It OK To Copy Your Children’s DVD’s

I’m not much of a DVD movie buyer.

Back in the day I would buy VHS movies that I liked.  Most of them were watched frequently so the purchases were justified (I even wore a few out).  But now that we are in the age of DVD (ok, we’re probably past that, but I’m a little slow to catch up to BluRay), I don’t really need DVD’s of my favorite movies.  With cable and Netflix around I can always find something to watch and hardly get to any of the few DVD’s I already own. 

But there’s one BIG exception – KIDS MOVIES!

If there is one category of movie that is well worth buying its kids movies.  With three kids, two of which are movie watching age, we have movies going on all the time (maybe not all the time, I don’t want you to think the kids sit around all day in front of the TV).  Time for a family movie?  Any of The Incredibles, Shrek, Little Mermaid, Scooby Doo, Alladin, and more can get pulled out and watched.  Kids love watching the same movie over and over!  These DVD’s see their share of wear and tear let me tell you.

And there lies the problem.

DVD’s aren’t indestructible. They get scratched.  They get prints all over them (and “other” stuff).  They get left out (much to our dismay) or put back in the wrong direction.  We already have problems with a couple of our DVD’s.  With the baby bound to watch the DVD’s when she’s older we want to make sure they last.

So wouldn’t it be great if I could make backups of the DVD’s I own to make sure the kids can enjoy them?

Here lies another problem.

DVD manufacturers and movie studios aren’t so fond of people copying the movies.  Understandably so since pirate movies hurt their industry.  But I just want a backup of a movie I own.

There are programs out there that allow you to make backups but they aren’t 100% reliable.  My understanding is that newer movies have encryptions in them that make it difficult to copy.  Is it worth buying a program and hoping it works?  Which one is best?

I see both sides of the story here.  On one hand, I own a movie and I should be able to copy it, no?  I’m not stealing.  I just want to make sure my movie will last so I want a backup of it.  I can copy CD’s, why not DVD’s?!?

On the other hand, what’s to stop someone from copying any movie they don’t own?  And so what if my movie wears out?  You don’t get lifetime guarantees on other items.

So what do you think?  Should consumers be able to copy DVD’s they own?  Can you see my argument for wanting to backup my kids’ movies?  I’d love to hear your opinion!

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Published or updated May 20, 2013.


  1. It’s perfectly legal to copy movies that you own for backup purposes. No need to ask if we should be allowed to. I use AnyDVD which bypasses the encryption and CloneDVD which does the copying. I’ve never found any movie that I couldn’t copy using these pieces of software.

  2. It’s my understanding that you can make a copy of a dvd that you already own for backup purposes…you just can’t sell them or give them away or anything.

    We run into the same problem as you…2 kids who love their favorite movies and we want to make them last for our baby to enjoy too. But little Mermaid, Cars, Shrek, Little Bear, and a few others are already skipping. So i made backups of their favorites so they can watch the backup copy and keep the original in good shape.

    This is especially handy for the Muppet Family Christmas which is no longer available in stores and is now rare to find. I’ve seen it selling for close to $100 on ebay! If that one breaks it’s not getting replaced.
    .-= Saving Money Today´s last blog ..Link Roundup Time 3-5-10 =-.

    • You can’t lose Muppet Family Christmas!! We have a bunch that have scratches; its only a matter of time before they no longer work.

  3. If you’ve ever duped a CD or tape that you were fond of, I say the principle is the same. It’s when you make copies of DVDs that you do not own (or ones that you own for the purposes of resale) that you run into trouble.

  4. Hi, Craig,
    I agree with Aaron. It is not only legal, but it is ethical as well.
    By the way, I recently entered to the Yakezie Challenge and I have included your blog in my rollblog.
    All the best!

  5. Heya,

    Agree with Boris and Aaron – as long as you own the DVD, I believe it’s legal to copy for your own use.

    Darn kids and their sticky fingers.

    • If it were only sticky then I could clean the DVD’s. It when the DVD’s get all scratched up that its a problem.

  6. As a person who does download movies and such, I could say that as long as your copied movies are not sold for profit, then it should be fine. I never sold for profit, only for my own entertainment purposes. Sorry if I sound biased, but like you said, DVDs do get scratched and ruined, especially with children. I think it would be very stupid to buy a new copy every time and spend your money on it, which we know what DVD manufacturers want you to do. As always, they might tell you to “just handle your DVDs carefully, there’s no excuse to pirate or copy movies!”, I disagree.

    If i were you, I would just copy them 🙂

    • I tend to agree. But I think it is an interesting point that we don’t expect children’s toys to last forever and we can’t backup everything. We’ve just become so used to being able to copy media that I think we take to for granted that we should be able to do it.

      Now if I can only figure out how to backup my movies on a Mac!

  7. I think it is a great idea to back up your children’s movies and if you aren’t distriputing copies to the whole neighborhood, you will be fine. Make the copies!

  8. While I’m obviously not an expert in US law, I think there is a legality issue in the US with circumventing the protection used? I believe one law states that copying a DVD you own is considered fair use (back to the VHS days), but another says that circumventing copy protection is illegal.

    • I feel like you are right about the circumventing but I’m not sure either. I think the issue is unresolved.

  9. I couldn’t agree more… my 2 kids spend more time playing with DVD’s as frisbees than watching them. I would be really surprised if anyone was brought to justice for making personal copies (or ripped to a hard drive) of something they purchased, as long as these are not then distributed to other people. My understanding is that (despite the fact that breaking CSS is illegal) its the distribution of the content that will get you in trouble.

  10. If I buy something, it is mine. If I want to copy it, use it as a frisbee, play it to whoever I want, I will do so. Government has no right to tell me what to do with my property! They can go F themselves

  11. It is legal, or not actionable until you sell the copy or distribute copies.
    If you have a friend who knows Linux/RedHat, they can copy the file called an iso image to thier computer then copy the iso image to new media.

    If you own the original copy, you can reasonably make a copy even if the manufacturer doesnt like it….just dont sell or distribute it…keep the original as the archieve and the copy as the day to day use one…

    Some stuff is licensed, some is copywrited, and reasonable use is protected by the courts.

What Do You Think?