Copyright OSTA 2004
All rights reserved.


Understanding DVD

Author's Notes
Physical Logical and

Recording Hardware
Recording Speed
Physical Compatibility
Disc Size Configuration and Capacity
Copying Deterrents and Content Protection
>Duplication, Replication and Publishing
Disc Labeling
Disc Handling, Storage
and Disposal

Disc Longevity
Disc Testing and

Disc Construction and

Appendix A - Further
Reading and Resources

Appendix B - Industry
and Product Contacts
About OSTA
About the Author






Duplication, Replication and Publishing

What alternatives are available to duplicate DVDs?
There are several different methods available to make one or multiple copies of existing DVDs ranging from single DVD recorders to specialized devices that automatically duplicate and label discs and, for large runs, commercial mass replication. Options are distinguished by cost, speed, convenience and capability. Some of the many applications include reproducing previously created DVD home movies, circulating in-house corporate software, updates and training videos, making backup copies for off-site storage and even commercially distributing software, audio and DVD-Video titles.

As previously stated in this white paper, it is essential to always investigate and obey COPYRIGHT LAWS whenever dealing with content of any type and be aware that products that bypass content protection systems are not permitted in most jurisdictions. Also keep in mind that one is not necessarily authorized to copy a disc even if it lacks content protection measures. OSTA does not support the use of writable DVD for any unlawful purpose and that all DVD products should be used only for legal purposes.

Computer DVD Recorders

By far the quickest and least expensive way to duplicate a disc is to copy it using a computer outfitted with a DVD recorder combined with off the shelf writing software. In addition to creating discs from scratch, many basic writing software packages will duplicate most standard DVD formats. Specialized copying software is also available with more sophisticated capabilities such as the ability to simultaneous duplicate to multiple recorders. But remember that the ability of a system to copy specific disc formats depends upon the individual capabilities of the software, reader and recorder used. It is therefore advisable to check with the respective manufacturers for specific information.

Typically, discs are duplicated DVD to DVD by using the computer’s DVD-ROM drive as the master source feeding the copying recorder. In cases where a separate reading drive is not available the master is first downloaded to the computer hard drive using the reading ability of the recorder and later written back to a blank disc using the same recorder. Employing the computer’s hard disk as an intermediate copying step is also a common tactic used when dealing with poor quality source discs or other situations where computer systems are not fast enough to keep up to the speed set on the recorder.

DVD Duplication Systems

For copying larger numbers of discs various dedicated DVD duplication solutions are available including machines that function by themselves or with the assistance of operators. These configurations can either sit as standalone units or may be attached as computer peripherals. The most common devices are hand-fed tower systems that employ a number of DVD recorders linked together for simultaneous duplication from either a master DVD or from a hard drive. Also widely used are automated products incorporating robotic disc handling systems that mechanically load and unload one or more recorders. Sometimes disc label printers are included to produce a handful or even dozens of finished discs per hour. In addition to large commercial solutions many DVD duplication systems are compact and affordable and within reach for personal and office use. A number of companies also offer commercial DVD duplication services to perform short run work in quick turnaround times.

DVD Mass Replication

In contrast to DVD duplication which is usually performed on a small scale at the desktop level, DVD mass replication is typically used to make huge quantities of discs such as commercial DVD movies and software DVD-ROMs. These prerecorded (pressed) discs are manufactured from a mold in a factory setting and are created using a complete series of industrial processes including premastering, mastering, electroplating, injection molding, metallization, bonding, spin coating, printing and advanced quality control. In addition to manufacturing discs, many replication companies offer companion services including packaging, printing, distribution and fulfillment.

What is DVD publishing?
Somewhat like DVD duplication equipment, DVD publishing systems employ DVD recorders but are used to create quantities of unique discs from different computer files rather than just to make multiple copies of a single master disc. Employing robotic disc handling systems and integrated label printers, many of these devices can be accessed over computer networks and shared much like office laser printers. Examples of DVD publishing applications include creating writable DVDs containing medical images or monthly banking records, archiving computer-generated billing records to disc in place of microfilm and accepting conventional analog video tapes resulting in DVD video on writable DVD discs.

Is it possible to transfer the contents of a DVD-9 video disc onto a writable DVD?
Writable DVD discs are currently single-layer (SL) products that accommodate a maximum of 4.7 GB of information per side. Prerecorded (pressed) DVD discs, on the other hand, can contain up to 8.5 GB of data on one side by using dual layers (known as DVD-9). Several techniques can be used to place the larger contents of a DVD-9 DVD-Video format disc onto writable DVDs. These include splitting the material onto two discs or re-authoring it to fit onto one. For example, by using various software programs disc content can be broken into pieces or supplementary material deleted so only the main video segment remains to fit onto a single writable DVD disc. Such software can sometimes recompress the video content to a lower bit rate to fit onto one disc. In this case excluding extraneous material lessens the required amount of recompression to maintain higher video quality. As stated earlier in this white paper, COPYRIGHT LAW must always be respected.

Is it possible to copy one writable DVD disc type onto another?
Depending upon the capabilities of the hardware and software used it is possible to copy one writable DVD disc type onto another (for example, copying the contents of a DVD+RW disc to a DVD-R disc). Be aware, however, that there are slight capacity differences among the various types that might make the contents of one disc too large to fit onto a disc of another type. As well, some application formats may be untested or inappropriate for use with certain types of discs.