The law allows you to make archive copies of copyrighted works, to protect against theft, damage, and so on. You could make copies of your CDs and stick them in a safe deposit box, and if one of the originals gets lost, just use the backup instead.
But what if you lacked the cash, the equipment, or even the foresight to make copies in advance? Are you morally justified in making a (possibly illegal) copy after the theft or damage has already taken place?
On one hand, the backup you make after the fact is indistinguishable from the one you made before the fact; the only difference is timing. In both cases, you paid for the original, and now you have a backup but no original.
On the other hand, the exact nature of what you’re getting when you buy a copyrighted item is unclear. In some situations, it seems you’re getting a license to use the material, regardless of the physical form; in others, it seems you’re buying that specific packaged copy of the material, and you should expect no recourse if it gets ruined. Perhaps this is the latter.
You buy a CD at a record store just before closing time. On the walk home, someone rushes past on the sidewalk and steals your shopping bag. Should you…
a) go back the next day and buy another copy
b) decide you just weren’t meant to have that CD and live without it
c) get a copy from a friend who owns the CD
d) download the songs from Kazaa?
You buy a movie, and one day you can’t find it. You turn your house inside out, but the tape/DVD is nowhere to be found - perhaps it’s been stolen, perhaps you left it somewhere, who knows. You have given up looking for it. Should you…
a) buy another copy
b) decide you weren’t meant to have it
c) copy a friend’s tape/DVD
d) rent it and copy it?
I’m not sure if this belongs in GD or IMHO, but copyright has been hotly debated in the past. Mods, please move the thread if this is the wrong forum.