CD Copyright Laws 

CD copyright laws may have to be considered when you want to extract information from audio CDs in order to include that information in your digital scrapbooking projects or for other reasons. Similar laws may also apply when attempting to extract information from other types of formats as well, such as DVDs or Blu-ray movie discs.

Songs from audio CDs may fit well in digital scrapbooking projects. One example is using music to accompany slide shows of your digital pictures. In these situations, what is the copyright law for burning CDs or does the copyright law restrict you from using audio content published on CDs?

Ripping or Digital Audio Extraction

When information is extracted from audio CDs, the process is often referred to as ripping in common language or digital audio extraction as the more formal term.

CD copyright laws exist for content on audio CDs. Similar laws exist for movies on DVDs and Blu-ray discs.

A CD audio disc contains audio files that are in a special format that is outlined in the Red Book Standard. If you look at the directory of an audio CD with Windows Explorer the file type for the audio tracks is listed as CD Audio Track (CDDA or CD Digital Audio files). Now in order to use these audio tracks in your digital projects you need to convert the files to another format such as .wav or .mp3 and this is what the ripping or digital audio extraction process does via various software programs that are readily available.

CD Copyright Laws General Statements

CD copyright laws vary from country to country and therefore it is best to check with the relevant authorities in your country to get the exact law and figure out if what you are doing is legal or not. In Canada and the USA you often find the following phrases on audio CDs:

  • unauthorized reproduction, copying, and rental of this recording is prohibited by law
  • unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws
  • unauthorized copying, hiring, lending, public performance and broadcast of this record prohibited
  • unauthorized reproduction of this recording is prohibited by law and subject to criminal prosecution
  • all rights reserved

The above phrases are quite broad and really do not give you an indication of the copyright law for burning CDs or the copyright laws for extracting audio tracks from a CD. In general, it is legal to make a copy of the audio CD you have purchased as long as it is for your own use. Extraction of tracks from an audio CD for use in your personal digital scrapbooking projects is generally okay as well. Unlike movie DVDs, audio CDs do not use a copy protection system. DVDs use such a system and it is illegal to circumvent it in order to make a copy.

DVD and Blu-ray movie discs have this information clearly stated on the packaging associated with the movie. Below is an example of the type of copyright statements that are found on the back of the packaging of a DVD movie disc.

DVD copyright statements found on the back of the Amaray case of a DVD movie disc.

CD Copy Protection System

If a CD has a copy protection system in place, then making a copy of such a disc would also be illegal.

If the copied or extracted material is used for other purposes, such as use in projects that will be sold, rented, or distributed, then violation of the applicable CD copyright laws is likely occurring. This holds true unless the material is in the public domain or is not copyrighted. One must be careful and be informed about the copyright laws if the ripped material is distributed in any way even if the purpose is not to generate revenue. It may or may not be permitted to distribute your digital projects that contain extracted material from purchased audio CDs to family members. Common sense would dictate that distribution to family members would adhere to the various “limited use” rules especially when the focus of digital scrapbooking projects is not the audio content, but this is not always the case and you may be violating the copyright law for burning CDs or extracting audio content from CDs.

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