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Legal to Copy

I don't think enough people know this, so I'm pointing it out: it's perfectly legal to let your friend borrow a CD so that they can make a copy of it (or to give them a copy yourself), so long as you don't sell the music (that'd be "financial gain"). As clarified here:

Under the old way of thinking about things, copying your CD and carrying the copy around with you to play in your car, in your Walkman, or in your cassette deck at work is legal. Borrowing a music CD and making a copy on some other medium for your personal use is legal. Recording music from the radio; maxing different recorded tracks for a ‘party tape,’ and making a copy of one of your CDs for your next-door neighbor are, similarly, all lawful acts. The copyright law says so: section 1008 of the copyright statute provides that consumers may make non-commercial copies of recorded music without liability. Many people seem not to know this any more.

Don't let the RIAA fool you. Know your rights and the laws.

12 Responses to "Legal to Copy"

  1. This confuses me.

    First, the quoted text doesn't originate from the linked page but from a paper called War Stories by Jessica Litman [PDF link], who seems to be a law professor.

    Here's Section 1008 of the Copyright Law:

    No action may be brought under this title alleging infringement of copyright based on the manufacture, importation, or distribution of a digital audio recording device, a digital audio recording medium, an analog recording device, or an analog recording medium, or based on the noncommercial use by a consumer of such a device or medium for making digital musical recordings or analog musical recordings.

    Here's the same thing with the stuff about manufacturing, analog, and devices taken out:

    "No action may be brought under this title alleging infringement of copyright based on distribution of a digital audio recording medium or based on the noncommercial use by a consumer of such a medium for making digital musical recordings."

    Section 1008 is talking about two separate things, distribution and use. It says it's okay to distribute recording media (which Section 1001 clearly defines as blank media) and it says it's okay to use such media. I'm pretty sure giving a copy of a CD to a friend does not constitute "use," making a copy you keep for yourself (to play in your car or as a backup) would constitute "use." "Distribution" is only permitted of blank media.

    So I guess I'm saying either the copyright law has changed since 2001, when the paper was written, or the copyright law professor is wrong 🙂

  2. Or, the RIAA is lying to people about laws that they themselves fall back on (which wouldn't be unheard of).

  3. Mike, my comment has nothing to do with the RIAA, it solely addresses what's written in the copyright law and was written by a copyright lawyer who clearly takes a position far from the RIAA's.

    RIAA and their ilk clearly do lie and deceive about what is in fact legal (or not). I'm just saying that the section of copyright law cited does not appear to allow copying audio CDs and giving them to your friends.

  4. Having taken classes with Jessica Litman, I can assure you she is not wrong. She is an expert in the field.

    The reason behind this section of the copyright act is because when you buy a blank audio CD, you as a consumer pay a use tax that is part of the purchase price, which subsequently goes to the copyright holders. Accordingly, you bought the right to copy audio media on the CDs you bought. You can distribute those copies (e.g. give them away) provided the distribution is not commerical.

    Next time you are in a Best Buy or Circuit City you will notice some blank CDs are labeled as data cds and others are labled as audio cds. These blank cds are the same (e.g. you can burn music on the data cds with no loss of quality over the audio cds), but data cds cost less because you are not paying the use tax.

  5. Let me add that have you ever wondered why there were not audio rental stores. There used to be. The same revision to the copyright act referred to above outlawed audio rental stores. The copyright holders were afraid people would go to these stores instead of buying and copy CDs. Moreover, the owenrs of the stores were not paying the copyright holders for the distribution.

    Yet, Libraries can rent you CDs and other then buying the CD, they are not paying copyright holders. This is because libraries are non-commerical entities. Accordingly, it is perfectly legal for you to rent a CD from the library, and burn it.

    You can also borrow a legally purchased CD from a friend and burn the CD yourself legally.

  6. in other words.. i go to a store.. buy a CD.. come home.. burn a copy of it to give to a firend.. that is legal????
    Am I right???

  7. Ethics is more important here than legality. Musicians work hard, investing a lot of time and money, and so often they cannot make ends meet as their incomes are compromised when CDs are copied instead of fairly purchased. I am not a musician, but a good friend of mine is one, and it makes me sad to hear people say, "Oh don't buy her CD, I'll give you a copy of mine." If you enjoy the music, why not support the artist?

  8. On the subject of ethics. Would you buy cotton from a slave owner? Lets take a look at a $15.00 CD. $5.00 goes to the store. So they bought it for $10.00. Well if we call $1.00 what it costs to press the CD and packaging. That leaves $9.00. Where does that go? About $1.00 to the artist and $8.00 to the record company.

    I know few albums are a success. That the record company takes the risk. I would believe that on the FIRST album. So the profits are split 90/10. What about the 2nd album where there is a much better chance? Well it is still split 90/10. The record company owns the artists name and the artist is on contract for 7 albums to the record company.

    Artists are share croppers. Every time you buy an album from a major label. You are supporting slavery. Unless you are thrilled with these "ethics". You are forced to either buy no music at all. Or to only purchase music directly from artists or small labels that treat the artists ethically.

  9. I have received burned cds from smaller companies as a thank you for ordering. Is this legal?

  10. What a crack up, how so many of you miss the trees for the forest. No, I didn't misquote the adage -- many are getting caught up in the all-encompassing word 'copyright' and missing the details of language and logic right in front of you.

    To interpret section 1008 as applying to the artist's artistic expression encapsulated by a stream of 1s and 0s in the medium, one would invalidate the entire Title 17, since it begins with the phrase "...based on the manufacture, importation, or distribution of a digital audio...".

    Section 1008 as about blank physical medium for storing the artist's expressions. That's why the whole chapter 10 begins with definitions of words. Section 1008 DOES NOT APPLY TO RECORDINGS!

    Section 1008 is a protection for consumers from being included in copyright suits by virtue of having been party to a transfer of the physical objects used in violating other portions of copyright law. So my giving or selling blank materials or physical mechanical devices for recording does not make me party to a copyright violation when the material I transferred is used to violate copyright law.

    This is the same common-sense protection for me if I sell my car to someone, who then uses it to conduct a drive-by shooting. I am not liable for that crime just because I sold the car that enabled it.

    The "rule of law" does not mean everyone makes up whatever rule in law that makes sense to them, or they pick out paragraphs from the law and omit those that don't support their personal objectives.

    Furthermore, most citizen critics keep missing the plain and simple truth that one's constitutional rights of association and speech and private property don't nullify artist's constitutional rights of protection under United States Constitution, Article I, Section 8. Article 1 Section 8 invalidates one's claim to "my private property" when the property one acquires originated from another who has the constitutional protection of Congress on their artistic expression.

    The artist is constitutionally protect in their right to enter into willful binding agreements with others, and to define the rules and policies in the distribution of their copyright-protected expression. There is no right on the part of the people to pass judgment on the manner and frequency agreed to between the artist and the distributor, to the point of invalidating the claim to restrict distribution.

    If you don't like the commercial products available to you, find an artist who doesn't participate, or make your own music. It's a free country, and that doesn't mean you can have anything you want for free.

  11. two things to remember about AHRA and DMR
    1. A computer is not an authorized "digital recorder" under AHRA
    2. It is private non-commercial use, not distribution that is protected

  12. actually this information is not accurate... under the first sale doctrine... you are allowed to sell, lend,destroy or lease any physical copyright product that you legally purchased. Yet you are not allowed to make copies as that infringes reproduction rights of the copyrights owners.