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Answer Line: Streaming video to DVD

Paul Brandenburg asked how to save a streaming video and burn it onto a DVD.

Paul Brandenburg asked how to save a streaming video and burn it onto a DVD.

[Email your tech questions to answer@pcworld.com or post them on the PCW Answer Line forum.]

First, do you have a legal right to copy those streams to disc? Probably not. Most online content is copyrighted, and the copyright holders may not want you to make your own discs.

If the copyright holders are selling DVDs of the same content--a strong sign that they don't want you to burn your own--you should buy these, instead. It will cost you a little bit of money, but the video quality will probably be better, and you won't be breaking the law. Besides, if you like a video enough to want your own copy, you should be willing to spend a little money and encourage the creators.

But some videos actually are in the public domain, and there's no reason why you can't burn those to DVD. First, you'll need to download the video to your hard drive. Then you'll need to burn the video to DVD.

I'm recommending two free programs for downloading streaming video: iLivid and FVD Suite. I'm recommending two because each can capture streams that the other cannot. For instance, iLivid failed with Vimeo, and FVD Suite couldn't manage YouTube. (I didn't try either with paid services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus. I know you don't have permission to download anything from them.)

Regular readers will remember that, just last week, I came down somewhat hard on iLivid for its installation procedure. You need to be careful, when you install the program, that you don't install other programs as well. See Why isn't a program malware if it installs additional, unwanted software? for details.

To burn the video files to disc, I recommend Microsoft's Movie Maker. It came with XP and Vista, and Windows 7 users can download the current version as part of the free Windows Essential collection. Windows 7 users may have to update their video drivers to make it work--even if it was working on their computers a few months ago.

Movie Maker is not a great editing program. I wouldn't want to use it for anything creative. But it's a free and easy way to burn existing content to DVD. You shouldn't have any trouble figuring it out.

By the way, after I sent Paul my initial answer to his question, he acquired the videos on DVD from their original author.

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