Can I copy shows/movies from a DVR to a DVD?

I've been reading a lot about:

(1) whether or not it's OK ( which I assume means legal if just for personal use) to record movies and shows from a DVR unit to a DVD for future viewing

(2) how to do this.

The "how to" part is especially confusing. Can it be done? Is there a universal step-by-step way to it, or is specific equipment needed for each DVR (mine is Google Fiber)? Does the transfer include using a computer or going direct to a DVD recorder? Is there software that makes this process easy?

I'm probably overlooking some other small, but important, points. So, experts, keeping in mind that I'm an average user and not a super-techie, what's the deal on this?

Thanks for your time.
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
The "is it legal" aspect of this depends on how the content is marked with regard to the copy control flags set as a consequence of the DMCA.    Many cable providers mark all of their content restrictively, regardless of the source's instructions [i.e. Time Warner restricts all of their content -- even the major network shows].

That also impacts the "can it be done" part of the question, in that devices that can record HD material must adhere to these copy control flags.    Some providers support add-on drives that can expand the storage capacity of their DVRs, but it appears that Google Fibre does not ... at least there's no indication of that on their web site.    It seems you're restricted to the 2TB of storage they provide.

While you can't directly copy, you CAN playback the recordings and record them to a dedicated recorder ... something like this:

Note, however, that you can only record the analog output (component video) if a show has a copy control flag that does not allow direct copying ... the CC Flag will not allow recording from the HDMI output.     The recordings will still be quite good ... most likely you won't even notice the difference.     The recorder can either burn the recordings to BluRay discs or simply store them on a hard drive.
1) As long as the recordings are for yourself/personal view and not to resell or create a mini-cinema to make a business out of it, then it is OK.
2) With DVR the problem is the limited space of the HDD inside. Then of course the recorded videos can be transferred from internal HDD to another device as an external HDD or DVD/Blue Ray depending what kind of output signals can provide your DVR unit.
If you need assistance how to do it step by step you must tell first what kind of signals/connectors with audio/video output signal has your device or easiest is to tell the type/model of the device.
Until then here are some guides:
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
".. 1) As long as the recordings are for yourself/personal view and not to resell or create a mini-cinema to make a business out of it, then it is OK. " ==>  No.   That does not make it legal -- at least not in the US.    The copy control flag setting is what determines what can/can't be legally copied ... and as I noted above many providers set this rather aggressively so you likely can't directly copy the content.    But you CAN record (as opposed to copying) the content on a DVD Recorder, such as the one I suggested above or any of the ones listed in the links in the above post.     If you record via an analog output, then it will work fine.    There are recorders that will accept HDMI input, but these will refuse to record anything with a restrictive CCF, so it's best to just use component video.
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RadioGeorgeOwner/ProgrammerAuthor Commented:
Gary-- getting a tad too tech for me....what is "component video?"
RadioGeorge does your DVR-set top box  have a DVD burner?
What is this Google Fiber?
You need a set top box with a DVD burner.
It seems this Google fibre may not have the set top box and you simply store them in cloud.
According to them> With Google Drive, you can back up and access your files anywhere: at home,
My Panasonic DVR set top box has a DVD burner, Not connected to the internet.
It also has an editor where I can cut out the adds reduce the size, split the videos. name the files so they appear on the menu correctly.
Since they all have different interface/console, how I do it is to use the remote control put it on the menu then choose copy,
then select from HDD to DVD, I use DVD-R otherwise DVD+R have to formatted first.

From the menu I choose the write speed then a new menu comes up with add files, I select the video from my HDD on the DVR it shows how much capacity, then I choose finalise disc  and it burns the files to a DVD Video, each segment is a chapter.
The menu on the DVD Video looks like this
DVD Menu from Panasonic
component video is those cable with red white and yellow, I also use them. That is the analog video audio inputs.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
NO !   That is not component video ... the cables shown above are for composite video.   There's a single video cable and stereo audio cables.

Component video will have 5 cables ... 3 for the video output (red, blue, and green) and 2 for the audio signals.   This is a set of component cables:

Component output will be appreciably higher quality than composite, so if you have a choice, that's what you want to use.

Look at your DVR and see what outputs it has.   It will almost certainly have HDMI, but as I noted earlier this won't be useable for copying/recording any protected content [You likely have a lot of that, whether you realize it or not] ... but a component (or composite if that's all you have) output will work fine as long as you get a DVD recorder with the appropriate input.

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“flag setting is what determines what can/can't be legally copied” – that is 100% true, but I assumed he will record what is free. If somewhere is a protection to protect against copying, then is obviously that if you bypass that protection, no matter through what means, then is illegal. If we think at the rented DVDs , then you are allowed to watch but not to copy, not even for personal use. If you buy the same DVD, then you may make a copy for your personal use. In other words you are not allowed to make your own video archive with copyrighted material.
Here is the USA governmental copyright website:
There are agreements with different countries: 
If you record the video content and has copyright protection then from my point of view, you just found a method how to bypass the copyright.
In case of reproducing the content of copyrighted material then there is gray area covered by “fair use”:
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Even "free" programming is often marked with a restrictive copy control flag.

The defined CCF values are:
    =>  Copy Freely - Any number of copies may be produced.
    =>  Copy Once - Only one copy of the content is permitted.
    =>  Copy No More - A copy of the content has already occurred and no more copies are permitted.
    =>  Copy Never - Copying of the content is never permitted.

Thee important thing isn't what the content SOURCE "says" the CCF is ... it's how the actual provider marks it.   As I noted earlier, network programming is generally allowed to be Copy Freely;  but some providers (e.g. Time Warner) mark ALL of their programs as Copy Once ... which means once it's been recorded it can NOT be copied again.   It's the Copy Once material that I presume the user wants to save ... and since this likely can't be copied via HDMI (which enforces the CCF), the only way to do so is via an analog output like component or composite video.

Note that Pay-Per-View and Video on Demand are generally tagged as Copy Never, so these likely can't even be recorded on the DVR (although they could be recorded on a DVD Recorder via an analog output.

Also, if your provider marks some of the content as Copy Freely, you can copy this via a direct HDMI connection if you have a recorder with an HDMI input.
RadioGeorgeOwner/ProgrammerAuthor Commented:
I had no idea my question would lead to all these comments! But let me focus on the "how" for a moment rather than the abstract nuances of the "copying" issue.

First, "Google Fiber is Google's fiber-to-the-premises service in the United States, providing broadband internet and cable television to a small and slowly increasing number of locations." Google Fiber's internet connection speed is 1GIGABYTE per second. My speed test shows over 900 mb per second download and over 800 for upload. What used to take me 45 minutes to upload now takes about 2 1/2 minutes. The package I have includes 2TG Cloud storage and 250 TV channels, all for $10 a month more than I had been paying Time Warner. The DVR storage is also something like 2 TB.

Next.,after reading the more technical info the experts have provided so far, it occurred to me that it might be a smart thing to post a photo of the back of the TV box (that's their term for it) so that you experts can offer specific suggestions after seeing what I have to work with.
RadioGeorgeOwner/ProgrammerAuthor Commented:
TV Box comment part 2--Hey, Experts Exchange---how making it crystal clear HOW TO POST A PICTURE without posting the message up to that point as a single message?

To continue....

This page:

contains a very thorough explanation of the unit, and also features a graphic of the back of the box (as in my picture in the previous post) with all of the inputs/output clearly labelled.

Your turn!
RadioGeorge thankyou I see what you have now, your TV box or set top box doesn't have a DVD burner
so you cant burn the tv shows unless you add another DVR with a DVD burner. As mentioned we cant really show you how to do this as EE is a public forum and would put EE in breach of showing how to by pass copyrights.
In simple English how to hack your TV box.
I know it is only for personal use but public forums are accessed by millions.
I too have a Foxtel cable box and Foxtel provides another service ( subscription)  for a an extra cost Foxtel IQ DVR but again it wont burn DVD.
They don't want us to burn stuff to DVD,
Due to copyright restrictions, my understanding is that subscribers are unable to transfer recorded shows onto an external drive of any sorts the same applies to you.
Foxtel IQ or Google Fibre or any paid for service unless that service provides a box that has a DVD burner
The only avenue your service provides is Cloud storage.
Regards Merete
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
It indeed looks like your best option is to use Google's cloud storage if you need more than the 2TB provided on your DVR.

The analog output DOES provide both composite and component video, along with stereo audio ... but they have a warning about potentially distorted video if you pass this through a recorder, so there is apparently some embedded Macrovision protection in the analog output.    There are ways to circumvent this, but as Merete noted, we cannot help you with that on this forum.
RadioGeorgeOwner/ProgrammerAuthor Commented:
Thanks to all the experts who replied. This was one of the most interesting batch of replies I've seen on EE in response to what I thought would be a simple question. The followups from all was very gratifying.

End of the story: none, for the time being!  When I started examining cable, inputs, and outputs, I discovered there are NO video or audio OUTputs from the back of the TV, which might have been the start of a solution. There is an available  HDMI plug, but  my recording  units do not have an HDMI plug.

We'll see how it goes with some experimenting in the near future. I have an electronic engineer friend who agrees with the idea presented here, and he will likely help make a final determination.

I am bummed out at the realization that my LG TV set, manufactured in 2012 is apparently already outmoded!  I would much prefer that computer and electronic technology keep a slower pace, one that matches my income and spending habits more comfortably.
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