Can I make a copy of a DVD, DVR, or VHS recording that I made from HBO?

HBO and some other cable and Network programmers actively copy-protect some of their programs on a random basis. The type of copy protection that is being used may allow an initial recording (such as to a hard drive of a DVD recorder/Hard Drive combo, a Cable DVR, TIVO, or direct to DVD or VHS), but will not allow the initial recording to be copied again (such as making a copy from a DVD recorder hard drive or Cable DVR to DVD, or from DVD to DVD or DVD to VHS).

In some cases, the copy-protection used won't even allow a direct recording to be made to DVD, only to a DVR hard drive that is provided by the cable/satellite company. Since this is often random, you may not know until you attempt to make a DVD recording of your favorite TV show.

Unfortunately, there is no way around this with consumer equipment. This would be the same no matter what brand or model of DVD recorder you have. It is simply the luck of the draw as to which programs are copy-protected. You will see an increase of this practice, especially as HDTV becomes more popular and the "ever-so-slight possibility" of Blu-ray Disc recorders eventually reaching the consumer.

For more information on HBO's copy-protection policy, check out their FAQs on Copyprotection and a reference article from Ars Technica, as well as my own reference article: Video Copy-Protection and DVD Recording and additional technical explanation and perspective from About.com DVRs: Understanding Copy Protection.

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Also, for answers to questions regarding topics related to DVD players, be sure to also check out my DVD Basics FAQ