Backup copy legalities

I understand that it’s legal to have a backup copy of a game or a DVD. I assume that is the same for an audio CD. What I am wondering is what happens if you were to misplace the original media. Say you lost the CD, that’s what the backup CD is for but how do you prove it?

Another side question is that on some less wholesome sites offering not-so-legal software they have a disclaimer saying the software available is for trial purposes only and that after 24 hours it must be deleted. Is this really a loophole or do they just write that thinking it will work?

What is there to prove? As long as you do not share the contents of that backup copy with anyone, no one will know and know one will come after you.

It’s a scam. They’ve uploaded licensed software for others to use, without paying for it. It’s called theft.

Does this look familiar to you?

“If you enter this site you are not agreeing to these terms and you are violating code 431.322.12 of the Internet Privacy Act signed by Bill Clinton in 1995 and that means that you CANNOT threaten our ISP(s) or any person(s) or company storing these files, cannot prosecute any person(s) affiliated with this page which includes family, friends or individuals who run or enter this web site.”

Sound familiar? Lots of sites have this disclaimer or something similar.

Guess what? It means nothing. There was no Internet Privacy Act signed by Clinton in 1995 or in any other year. And the code number is not a valid US Code or CFR reference number. However, there was a loophole in the Copyright Act but it no longer exists.

In fact, the loophole in the US criminal code was plugged in 1997 with the No Electronic Theft Act (or NET Act) as signed by Clinton in 1997. The real reference numbers for the NET Act are HR 2265, P.L. 105-147, 111 Stat. 2678.

The Net Act was passed to close a loophole in the former criminal copyright law, which required proof of financial gain. This loophole was exposed during the criminal trial against a Massachusetts Institute of Technology student, David LaMacchia. Apparently for a lark (and not for payment), LaMacchia transferred computer games that he and others uploaded from one BBS to another, where users of the second BBS could download them. LaMacchia was found innocent of criminal copyright law violations simply because he was not paid for the games.

The Net Act now authorizes criminal prosecutions against anyone who willfully reproduces or distributes copyrighted material by electronic means, regardless of one’s purpose or motive. In other words, uploading a copy of someone else’s software onto the Net so your friends can download it for free may now be a crime.


Someday I will know no post is complete without previewing properly. To know no preview often means the no’s have it when I should know otherwise.


Regarding the first point, you’re absolutely right. I totally blocked out the idea that as long as you keep it to yourself you should be fine.

Secondly, I figured it was fake but I just wanted to make sure. Thanks.

What’s wrong with the post?

I’m surprised at this, because the rest of your post was a clear explanation of legal issues.
Surely any behaviour will not lead to legal action if no-one knows you did it. That doesn’t make it legal!

Well, in this case spreading the files makes it illegal. So I imagine if you had a bunch of copies but kept them tucked away neatly it’s perfectly fine. So, in other words, if someone know you did it then you are sharing the files!

But is the behavior illegal? If an individual owns the original CD or DVD and chooses to make a backup copy as a backup copy have they committed an illegal act under the law?

I think this is the crust of the biscuit on the entire issue. However, how does the issue become clearer when the 1992 Home Recording Act apparently allows it, but the law did not anticipate the digital change and subsequent growth of CDs and DVDs vs digital audio tape?

I think this thread will go to GD, but there already enough threads in GD debating this very issue.