Is this illegal

Hey All,

After reading this…

I have a few questions.

You buy a CD.

  1. Is it legal to listen to the CD at home?

  2. Is it legal to listen to the CD in your car?

  3. Is it legal to listen to the CD in your cube at work?

  4. Is it legal to lend the CD to a friend?

Now you rip the CD into mp3’s and make a Data CD containing the mp3’s. You own the source CD from which the mp3’s came.

  1. Is it legal to listen to the Data CD at home?

  2. Is it legal to listen to the mp3’s from your hard drive at home?

  3. Is it legal to listen to the Data CD in your car?

  4. Is it legal to listen to the Data CD at work?

  5. Is it legal to copy the files to your own work computer and listen to the music?

  6. Is it legal to lend the Data CD to a friend?

I feel the answer to all the above should be, yes, it is legal. However, I want to know for sure so I don’t get fired, or anyone else fired.

I live in the United State, Northern CA.


1-4 – Yes. If you own a CD, you can play it wherever you want.

The rest are more problematic and depend on whether the copyright holder decides to sue, and also how the court ends up ruling. However, copyright law considers it a violation when you rip the CD, not when you play it. Nowhere are you granted the right to make copies without permission*.

So if you want to rip a CD, you’re violating the law. Playing it has nothing to do with copyright or any other rights. If someone decides to sue you, you could be out a lot of money.

*If anyone cares to argue, they’d better quote the relevant sections of the law, not the urban legends they might have heard about this.

Possibly more to the point: while you’re violating the law merely to rip an MP3 from the CD, if you simply play it in your home or car, there’s really no way for your scofflaw antics to become public enough knowledge for the record companies to file a lawsuit, or even to know that they should. But if you loan that copy to a friend, the matter is out of your hands. Again, if he just listens to it & gives it back, nobody else should ever know … but if he makes a copy for himself while he has it, or makes copies for other friends, or lends his copy, or makes the MP3 available on Gnutella etc., the investigation could well lead back to you …

None of this is relevant, legally speaking. Running a stop sign is just as illegal at 3 A.M. on a two-lane road in the middle of nowhere as it is at 7 A.M. in front of a busy Dunkin’ Donuts. But the former is infinitely less likely to get you a ticket than the latter. :slight_smile:

I believe that everyone is entitled to make one copy “for archival purposes only” of any CD that they have purchased. I am not sure, however, wether this just applys to software on CDs or music too.

Thanks for the responses.

I have some follow up questions.

  1. What if the CD isn’t being sold anymore? You want to listen to the CD, but you can’t buy it to listen to it?

  2. Is it legal to record songs off the radio for personal use?

  3. Is it legal to possess Re-Mixes of songs, like the extended dance version mixed by a friend down the street.

  4. Is it legal to make cassette tape recordings of vinyl records for personal use?


That article was written from a business managers POV, and doesn’t really apply to a private user.

Under “Fair use”,
1 - 8 - Perfectly Legal for personal use. You only have to buy the work once.
9 - Depends on office policy. You’re still technically within the bounds of fair use, but you’d better be able to prove it to your boss.
10 - Illegal, but probably unenforceable.

In the software world many companies will state in their license agreement that you may make a copy for archiving purposes. However, this is up to each company and is not federally mandated (I have been told that some state laws mandate this right, but I am skeptical and have never seen proof.)

IMHO the basic ethical argument is as long as only one copy is ever playing at any given time you haven’t really broken the essense of the band’s copyright. So its when you “loan a copy to a friend” that you’re violating the copyright. Two people can now listen to it separately and simultaneously without any additional payment.

*Disclaimer: I’ve downloaded and burned onto CDRs lots of MP3s so I’m an unethical deadbeat like everyone else. :smiley:

Fair Use is pretty well enshrined in court rulings.

Don’t matter. If it is still copyrighted, it is the copyright holder, not you, who gets to decide distribution

yes. for personal use. this is the VCR case again.

it ain’t even legal to MAKE such a thing (w/o license by copyright holder)

If the ‘backup’ rule applies, yes. I doubt the rule applies.

(and, like everyone else who knows how to do it, I have cut my vinyl and tape recordings to CD)

True, in terms of trying to sell it or perform it publically. But I would argue that just making, possessing and listening to it yourself is a form of free speech.

I just did a quick “google” under “Fair Use”.

It is Federal Law: TITLE 17 USC, CHAPTER 1, Sec. 107:

From this site:

Much more discussion on this site, although you should be aware that the site is partisan. IRT the OP, from

Question: If I buy a CD, then accidentally drop it on the street, does the person who finds it have the right to play it?

If a book is out of print, and the only place you can find it the library, and you make a photocopy of it, how does that hurt the publisher who isn’t even selling it any more?

Is it illegal to ask questions about Morpheus on the SDMB?

As I thought. It is legal to rip your own CDs.

Maybe the publisher has plans to re-print the book?

Ok, just so everyones on the same page.
When you purchase a CD you are paying for the rights to the MEDIA, not the actual rights to the SONG. Thats where this whole argument got started. The RPAA maintains the point that they are selling you the media. The MP3 advocates say they are paying for the song. :rolleyes:
It’s really an argument over semantics. When you purchase a CD you are paying for intellectual property with “full faith and credit”. Until CD burners became popular, the music industry never gave much thought to the issue. How many people owned record cutters? But now that the technology has become flawless and cheap, the record companies are scrambling to protect themselves. There has been a long running discussion on this at MP3Car.COM in thier forums.

But the crux of the argument is what are you paying for? The media or the music itself?

If you are just buying the media, why does a CD cost more than a Cassette? Since it is cheaper to stamp out a CD than a Cassette?

Because enough people pay extra for the CD.

Actually, this is old-hat, and more of the same. The industry went nuts over cassette recording too (which was then just as cheap and flawless), and lost big time. Now their dusting off all the arguments that lost before, but with a different legal, social, and technological climate, they’re doing somewhat better. There never was an effective technology for preventing the recording of cassettes, so the industry went off to sulk in the corner. Ripping requires more sophisticated tech, and the industry sees a chance to insert real barriers to copying, and is trying with great vigour to make that happen.

Yes, but as long as there are “creative geniuses” out there, MP3’s and the technology behind them will be around. The world is just now starting to realize that the internet IS anarchy.

I’m glad my generation is growing up with it. The 60’s had thier impact. Now, thanks to the internet the world is a much “smaller” place. Viva la revoltion.