I firmly believe in paying for what I watch - they paid to make it, I should pay to watch it. Completely fair. However, I hate physical media: DVD, Blu-ray, you name it. I'm happy to buy them to pay my royalty to those involved, but my understanding is that despite having paid for the film, in the UK it is illegal to have a ripped or downloaded copy of any movie, regardless of whether or not you own a physical copy.

I thought "Digital Copies" sold in Triple-play packages might be the solution, but they force ridiculous limitations, like tying it to one computer for the rest of forever. I'm not going to have one computer for the rest of forever, rendering it useless.

So my question is, is there a robust, legal means for me to be able to carry my movies on my hard drive (for travelling and suchlike) given that I am more than happy to pay, and even pay a premium, for the privilege?

I understand this is quasi-legal in the states, but generally falls into a grey area.

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    First off: hooray, a legal question that isn't terrible :). Second off to potential answerers: anything that has to do with pirating instructions will be deleted; SE does not condone piracy in any regard. Third off: are you looking only for UK law, US law, or a general case?
    – Tablemaker
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 12:13
  • I am personally interested in UK law, but its a question I feel would be useful to people as a whole so the general case would be interesting to explore. And I completely agree, the solution I'm looking for is not piracy. In the states I believe it is legal to own a copy of any media you purchase (and thus legal to rip a copy) provided you don't circumvent copy protection. Unfortunately in the UK this is explicitly illegal. Commented May 10, 2012 at 13:53
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    I like this question, and sympathize with the OP, but is it really on-topic here? Maybe there's been a change of opinion since the early days of beta, but this seems like a clear case of a question about playing movies, which was deemed off topic, as the site is about the content of movies.
    – Flimzy
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 22:55
  • P.S. US Copyright law expressly allows making backup copies of copyrighted materials, so long as they are not transferred to another person, except with the original, and with all copies.[citation needed]
    – Flimzy
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 22:56
  • It does, but it also expressly forbids the circumvention of copyright protection, which is pretty much ubiquitous on DVDs today. And as for relevance : I apologise if I'm in the wrong, I just thought it might provoke an interesting discussion, and of course I'm interested in the solution. Commented May 12, 2012 at 12:48

1 Answer 1


Currently the best legal method to own a digital copy of a movie is to go through UltraViolet. I know this service is probably not as robust as you are looking for but it is currently the standard backed by most of the major production groups and is slowly expanding as new movies are released to DVD. The only problem that I was unable to find out is if this service is available in the UK as I did not see it explicitly listed in the Terms of Service or their FAQ.

  • The service is available over here, but unfortunately the DVDs in our regional codecs don't come with the 'stickers' - rendering it less useful. Appreciate your input though, I wish there were more options like iTunes Movie purchases, that didn't lock you into their ecosystem forever and ever. Commented May 10, 2012 at 13:55
  • It appears that I've been proven wrong:- I bought a Triple Play copy of Sherlock Holmes and that's coming with UltraViolet access to my digital copy. This may well be the solution for new films. Commented May 14, 2012 at 11:24

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