Legally listening to my LPs as MP3s

Let’s see how clear I can be:

  1. I own more than 300 LP record albums.
  2. They are at home.
  3. I don’t currently reside at home.
  4. I would like to listen to my records.
  5. A couple of decades ago some federal court or something ruled that it was okay for individuals to record LPs they own on tape for personal use, like in their cars or portable players.
  6. I assume that ruling can be updated to include MP3 files.
  7. At home I have the needed tools, but I don’t have them here at the old folks home.
  8. And doing it myself is a pain in the ass.
  9. Many people with less regard for copyright law have done it and posted those files on YouTube.
  10. Other users provide sites where the music can be stripped out of the YouTube video.
  11. Often these files contain the entire album, which is very much like how I listen at home.
  12. Using these features and the Feds’ ruling I have downloaded several dozen albums without violating my rule of only downloading those I already own in vinyl form.
  13. I had forgotten how much I enjoy the band Sparks and worship David Bowie, and can fall asleep listening to them without getting up to flip disks.
  14. I can also tell when I got married because my collecting ran out of steam in 1976.

Youtube has a robot that automatically takes down unauthorized clips, so if an album is being distributed on YouTube I would not start second-guessing whether all the t’s are crossed on their license agreement; they have their own team of lawyers. I don’t think it matters whether or not you have the LP stashed away as vinyl or CD or tape somewhere, or not.

If you downloaded a high-quality vinyl rip from The Pirate Bay or something, that’s different, you don’t know who uploaded it or where or when, and odds are sky-high it wasn’t kosher in most jurisdictions, including the U.S. It probably wouldn’t be in MP3 format, either, rather FLAC.

That reminds me, neither would the Youtube soundtracks necessarily be in MP3. It would probably be AAC or Vorbis or Opus or something. I would just leave it as-is; you are not going to improve the sound quality any by attempting to transcode it to a different format.

I don’t much care if they did it illegally. I just know I’m in the clear as far as my easily-assuaged conscience is concerned. And whatever the original format is, 128mbs is good enough for my crappy ears, and small enough that I can carry a shitload in this tablet

Of course, if you want to make things even easier, you can acquire a good digital recording of the tune and just simulate the LP experience by self-inflicting a tinnitus hiss by detonating a firecracker near your ear.

The drumline at my kids’ high school did that for me while playing indoors.

I have been streaming music from for about 10 years now for free. I have the free account with 128 kbps (that’s enough for my ears) with the occasional thirty second ad between songs, but unbelievably AdBlock on Chrome filters the ads like it’s no deal. Has always been a mystery to me why they don’t block AdBlock, but it’s still working and until now I never had to switch to a paid membership. The scope of is comparable to spotify, so you should find most of your 300 LPs, as well as hundreds of thousands other albums. There’s only one restriction: the free account doesn’t work on mobile devices, only on desktops and laptops.

And of course, don’t forget the obvious solution: Get the hell out of there!

When you get home, you can rip to your heart’s content.

Yeah, I’m a big fan of The Spirit Of The Law.

In my mind, if you paid for the music, then the artist got paid (and to a much greater degree the record company). But I personally draw the line at downloading music I didn’t pay for at some point.

Now, I’m often away from WiFi or even a signal, so a Spotify-type service wouldn’t always work. So I want to have the files on my Mac, my iPod, or my phone. And I’d rather own than lease (my house, my car, and my tunes).

I’ve ripped a lot of “my” music to mp3 and AAC format, from CDs and vinyl. But if I’m lazy, I’ll just buy an album again (usually iTunes) rather than take the time to find it and hook up the ol’ turntable or disk drive.

I’ve had good luck wanting to hear a couple of, say, Bob Marley songs, going on iTunes and finding twenty great tracks on a remastered Best Of collection for $9.99.
(I’ve got a Millennial daughter who’d roll her eyes and say “Daaaad, don’t OWN stuff. Just go on Souncloud and listen to random music you might like.” Meanwhile, her little brother would say “Naah, I want to hold my CDs and LPs, and DVDs too!”)

In that case I’m a fan of the Spirit of the Law too: if some body with a $20000 laser turntable already ripped it (also keeping in mind that the fact it is available on YouTube is strong evidence the rights holders have no problem with a digital version floating around online), then why should every single person spend time and effort just to do an inferior job? Not to mention wear and tear in case it is a rare record.

Course, if you are a fan of the crappy/noisy 128 kb/s MP3 as you suggest, it hardly makes a difference if the source was a vinyl rip, DVD, YouTube, spotify, radio broadcast, or what have you :slight_smile:

  1. Note #8. If it weren’t a PITA I’d’ve done it years ago.

I don’t truly know the exact law about this or whether - like most laws - the status of its legality is in flux and allows some big record company or someone who claims to own the copyright of some music must sue an individual in order to try to get a judgement they can then try to use to collect money from people who have copied that music to an MP3.

Like so many laws, the answer may depend on whatever people can try to enforce.

In the first sentence above, I used the word “try” twice - “try” to get a judgment and then “try” to collect on that judgement.

TTBOMK, there are many cases where someone believes they are in the right and they then spend many years and huge amounts of money trying to sue in order to get a judgement they believe will enable them to get a small amount of money in the way of “damages”. Sadly, the amount they spend on lawyers and costs is often much greater than the amount of any judgement.

Also, TTBOMK, there are many cases where someone believes they are in the right and they get a judgement and then spend many years and a great deal of money on legal costs and lawyers trying to collect on that judgement. Sadly, the amount they actually ever collect is much less than the amount they spent.

It seems so extremely unbelievable to me that someone can purchase a music album (for about $10 to $20) and then be branded some kind of criminal because they make a copy of that music to an MP3 file so they can listen to it in their car. Many, many years ago (starting sometime in the 60s), I know of many people who recorded their favorite music albums to cassette tapes so they could listen to that music when driving their cars.

IMO, it just seems so increcibly ubelievable that some people consider there to be something wrong with people who purchase a music album and then make a recording of that album so they can listen to it in their car or over headphones in some public setting where they want to listen to their music but do not want to disturb other people.

In my opinion, the people who seem to believe there is something wrong with this are wealthy lawyers or wealthy owners of coporations who claim the own the copyrights to that music - people who have no need for that money because they are already very wealthy. For most of them, it just seems like it’s an opportunity for them to squeeze some blood from a stone and they just don’t want to miss the chance to try and do it.

I remember the 60s with great fondness when younger people felt so many things were just examples of how greedy older people who laid claim to so many things behaved like greedy pigs because they wanted other people to pay for the right to do almost anything they would consider enjoyable but the law was somewhat questionable as to whether or not it was legal for these people to do things like make an MP3 recording of some of the record albums they purchased.

Such blatant greed and such a shame to allow these people to use the courts and the Legal System to line their pockets when there was just no good reason to allow them to do that.

There are three questions that matter:
Is it legal?
Is it moral?
Will you get caught?

I’m not sure whether what you are doing is legal. But I’m pretty sure you pass the other two. I wouldn’t worry about it.

Well, for not a lot of money you can buy a turntable that will record an MP3 from your LP, and it doesn’t seem to be much more of a pain in the ass than it is to play LPs in general, what with having to take the vinyl disk out of its sleeve and put it on the spindle and then flip it over… gad, how primitive, it’s like caveman times! How did people cope in the long-long-ago?

Is it completely trivial? Even if you already have a good turntable, you need a good sound card/recording interface, you have to know how to set the levels, sample rate, resolution, and so on, you have to know how to edit the resulting digital file, remove pops/clicks/noise, chop it into tracks, and convert them to MP3 using appropriate settings…

It’s not illegal to make backup copies of media that you own, CDs, tapes, or record albums as long as you physically possess the media in question.

The turntables you can buy have all that stuff built in. Here’s one that records the audio directly on a USB stick and that was six years ago - there are better models available now, I’m sure.

Sure, you can get all hipster-audiophile and get picky and fussy about fidelity and recording levels and whatnot, but if the whole point is to remove the pops/clicks/noise, then why are you bothering to convert your LPs at all?

Thank you Cochrane. That is good to know. It restores some faith in the legal system.


No, in this forum, there is one question that it matters: Is it legal? The question about morality is one for Great Debates, not Cafe Society. And regardless of whether you’ll get caught or not, it’s against the rules of this board to promote illegal activity.

The OP asked for a method to legally listen to his music. That, if we are able, is what we are going to give him. There have been some posts in this thread that start with “I don’t know if it’s legal or not, but…”. Those stop now. I haven’t read the whole thread, but there might also be some posts that start with “It’s not technically legal, but…”. Those definitely stop now. From this point forward, if you’re suggesting a method to the OP, provide a reason why you in good faith believe that that method is actually legal (note: Not just that it should be legal). Failure to comply with this will result in Warnings.

One legal route I can suggest is to subscribe to YouTube Red, if you don’t mind paying a monthly fee. The only problem is, the music is DRM protected, so if you stop paying the subscription, you lose the ability to play your music.

No, Chronos, I didn’t ask for help. Instead, I announced a method to.make MP3 files of copyrighted material that I own, for my personal use only. Based on my own interpretation of legal precedent, it is, in my opinion, as legal as doing it with a turntable, a pre-amp, and a sound card.

However, the people who post their rips on YouTube are clearly violating the law, which is where the morality problem comes in. Posters have addressed this, offering solutions that would be legal fair use, but this is not the forum for moral quandaries.

So, Chronos, be easy on them. I’m the one endangering his immortal soul and risking a visit from the FBI. Or the closing of his thread.