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Ripping involves taking data or information from a physical CD or DVD plastic disc and putting it onto a hard drive or other similar storage media. These processes allow for duplication of data in order to back up CD data or to put audio, video or other content onto some other platform.
Ripping is also known more formally as digital audio extraction (DAE).
Many home users utilize software such as Windows Media Player to rip CDs or DVDs onto computer hard drives. A DVD writable drive can also put that ripped content onto another storage medium. The practice of ripping leads to a close look at copyright laws for content that is sold on the CDs or DVDs. There are particular laws for the use and reuse of audio and video content. Users have to understand when they can rip a CD or burn another CD and how this relates to copyright and intellectual property laws.
On a broader level, CD/DVD ripping represents the replacement of the old tape recording process that allowed users to duplicate audio recordings from one magnetic tape spool to another. As CDs replaced cassette tapes, ripping replaced tape recording. In general, the frontier of copyright issues has moved onto the simple duplication of digital files to be used on devices like MP3 players, smartphones and other mobile devices.