Home Use Duplication

Innovations in optical media technology have given way to more user-friendly duplication products. Taking your audio/video project-whether it's your music CD, DVD movie or home video-and reproducing hundreds of copies is now possible without ever leaving the comfort of your home. In some cases, disc duplicators, publishers and other products now replace the need for paying someone else to process copies. However, the countless choices available on the market can bring some difficult and confusing decisions. The CD Information Center provides you with a comprehensive guide to navigating your at-home duplication needs. From the original disc to the last copied disc, we provide the framework intended to make the CD, DVD and Blu-ray duplication process easier to follow.

A duplicator tower is a piece of equipment whose primary function is to make disc copies. A duplicator tower can be a stand-alone piece of equipment or it can operate in conjunction with a PC or Mac. A stand-alone tower is a more simple design that doesn't require another operating system-just plug it in and start burning. A computer-based duplicator gives you burner software options and the ability to connect to a hard drive to save or store multiple projects. Duplicating DVDs especially from a hard drive is most effective in decreasing any possible errors that may pop up in the copied disc.

Keep in mind for stand-alone duplicator towers, the original media format in the reader drive must match what's in the burner drives: a CD will solely copy to other CDs and a DVD will only record on to other DVDs.

Additionally, duplicators are manual or fully automated. Manual duplicators contain one reading drive and multiple burner drives as well as a straightforward button menu. You power on the duplicator and load the trays. When the discs are duplicated from the loaded trays, you must take them out by hand to load new discs. However, an automated tower operates hands free by using a robotic arm to load a spindled stack of discs into the burner drives without the need for you the user to reload burner trays.

1-to-1 DVD DuplicatorA 1-to-1 CD/DVD duplicator tower can be an easy, affordable option when you don't need dozens of copied discs on a deadline. These standalone duplicators consist of two drives-one to read the master disc and one to burn the copy.

From there, you simply load and close both trays and the machine's duplication process automatically starts. The discs will eject when the process is finished. You can just keep loading and reloading CDs or DVDs from the burner tray until you make your desired amount of copies. Manufacturers of 1-to-1 duplicator towers include Microboards, TEAC, and Accutower by US Digital Media.

For duplicators requiring computer operation, the majority of setups have streamlined directions. With some variation, the setup instructions will encompass installing the software from a CD-ROM (which will prompt you with computer directions at each step), connecting the power cables and loading the discs. Some duplication systems may also prompt you to restart the computer before you start duplicating discs.

Burning a disc is important to the at-home duplication process. If you do not already have an original or master disc of what you need to duplicate, burning allows you to assemble and edit audio and video data to record it from your computer to your disc. To burn discs (also known as writing or recording discs), whether for entertainment purposes or to simply back up audio and video data, you'll discover that CD and DVD burners are a standard component of most computers, with Blu-ray gaining popularity in this respect.

Your computer may come with the capabilities to burn discs, but you'll need to make sure you have the software to make it function. Burning software by programs such as Nero, Roxio and Power2Go are typically well-rated by users and reviewers.

You want to look for a set of features in the burning software that will match what you want to record. For example, if you're burning audio and video, be sure it supports DVDs. Other features that burning software can offer include: reading and writing archive (.iso) files, backup and recovery of files, editing photos and video, creating slideshows, capturing video from another source (like a camera) and creating disc labels.

Look for burn software with an easy to follow startup menu and user-friendly design. This will allow you to fully optimize what the disc burning experience has to offer no matter what level of practice you have with the process. Additionally, allow more than the application size in free space on the computer to ensure that the installation process goes smoothly and does not slow.

A majority of the latest DVD and Blu-ray drives are backwards compatible, meaning they'll play (read) or record older generation disc formats like the CD. For example, DVD recorders will burn writable and rewritable CDs and newer Blu-ray burners will likely record these compact discs as well as DVDs. However, the reverse concept won't work; there's no "forward" compatibility so to speak, as a CD drive won't write DVDs and a CD or DVD drive will not record Blu-rays.

A disc duplicator gives you print options to customize the surfaces of your discs: using a printer that can directly print art onto its surface or a standard printer with the capability to print adhesive disc labels.

Inkjet CD PrinterA direct CD/DVD printer can often perform multiple tasks so that you can get more use out of the printer you invest in.

For example, inkjet printer models are available on the market that can not only print on discs, but can function without a computer by accessing camera and other memory cards. It can scan documents, correct photos and print from wireless devices. Some manufacturers to look into for CD/DVD printers include Epson, TEAC or Dymo.

Many standard inkjet or laser printers will accommodate adhesive CD and DVD labels. You must make sure, however, that the label paper will match the type of ink and printer you will use. Check to see if the paper dimensions will fit into the printer feed. Additionally, Microsoft Word or your word processing program will have layout options to allow for different sizes of label printing. Printing adhesive labels is an affordable alternative when you already own a printer, yet still want to maintain a professional, creative look for your CDs, DVDs or Blu-rays. The only additional items you will need to purchase are the actual discs, adhesive label sheets and a label applicator for correct placement.

Most importantly, before you begin the at-home duplication process, you should be aware of regulations that directly affect producing disc copies: copyright law. These federal rules are in place to protect the value and integrity of another individual's creative work, which includes but is not limited to music, film and other recordings. It's a violation of civil and criminal laws to duplicate or distribute other creative work without authorized permission.

There are ways that you may violate copyright law without even knowing it-burning CD copies of downloaded music for family and friends can sometimes fall under copyright infringement. Simply grabbing select material from a purchased disc and distributing it among those you know may also be against the law. You are allowed under no circumstances to personally profit from protected original work on copied discs.

In some cases, you can download music from sites authorized by the copyright holder and burn it to a disc for non-commercial use. However, these instances are limited to "fair use", and fair use can be tricky to navigate because every extenuating circumstance is slightly different. Fair use is a doctrine of copyright law that outlines how reproduced copies can be used. Disc copies of original work can be used in reporting, teaching or research. Other fair use considerations include: if it's for commercial use, the nature of the protected work, how it's being used and what impact the use of the work will have on its future commercial value.

On the other hand, some blank media is already formatted for copyright protection, as it won't function along with certain recorded disc formats. Many standalone duplicator towers won't write copyrighted or protected discs and your original master disc for the reading tray must also be non-copy protected. Whatever circumstance you may fall under, be sure to research the most up-to-date copyright laws, as they evolve along with optical media technology.

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