Home video is a blanket term used for pre-recorded media that is either sold or hired for home entertainment. The term originates from the VHS/Betamax era but has carried over into the current DVD/Blu-ray Disc age. The first company to duplicate and distribute home video was Magnetic Video, established in 1968.
The home video business distributes films, telemovies and television series in the form of videos in various formats to the public. These are either bought or rented, then watched privately from the comfort of home by consumers. Most theatrically released films are now released on DVD-Video, replacing the largely obsolete VHS (Video Home System) medium. The VCD format remains popular in Asia, though DVDs are gradually gaining popularity. Prior to the advent of home video in the late 1970s, most feature films were inaccessible after their theatrical runs, only viewable in re-releases and television broadcasts. Home video release usually follows five or six months after the theatrical release, although recently more films have been arriving on video after three or four months. (Christmas and other holiday-related movies are generally not released on home video until the following year when that holiday is celebrated again.) A time period is often allowed to elapse between the end of theatrical release and the DVD/VHS release, as an effort to discourage piracy, or at least minimize the effect of piracy on the profitability of the theatrical release.
Many TV programs are now also available in complete seasons on DVD. It has become popular practice for defunct TV shows to be released to DVD one season at a time every few months, and active shows to be released on DVD after the end of each season. Prior to the television DVDs, most television shows were only viewable in syndication, or on limited 'best of' VHS releases of selected episodes. These copyrighted movies and programs generally have legal restrictions on them preventing them from (amongst other things) being shown in public venues, shown to other people for money, or copied for other than fair use purposes (although such ability is limited by some jurisdictionas and media formats: see below).
There is great controversy about recent attempts to increase protections for rights owners using technical means such as Macrovision and CSS, and by the enactment of laws such as the DMCA, potentially hindering otherwise-lawful "fair-use" rights.
After the passage of the Video Recordings (Labelling) Act of 1985 in the United Kingdom, videotapes and other video recordings without a certification symbol from the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) on their covers - or on the tapes themselves - were no longer allowed to be sold or displayed by rental shops. These tapes are called "Pre-Certs" (e.g., Pre-certification tapes). Recently these tapes have generated a cult following, due to their collectability.