I participated in a forum with Lessig, having my question selected for somebody from RIAA legal to be answered:
What are we buying when we buy entertainment media? Is it a license to view/listen to the product, or is it just a copy of the title that we have limited rights to? That is, do we own the license to view/listen to the content in any format -- or when we buy a CD, are we just purchasing the format of the content?
Matt Oppenheim responds.
(C) [What are we buying when we buy entertainment media?]
When you buy a CD, you should feel free to consume the music. That means you should listen to that disc, and feel free to make a copy of that disc for your own use so that you can have a copy in your home and your office. You should feel free to copy it onto other formats, such as
The only time you run into problems is if you begin to distribute your copies to others.
The original event is no longer online. However, it appears to be archived at the forum I just linked. We get to transcode and backup our media, and we've always been able to do that. Of course, the DMCA makes circumvention an issue, but CD's really don't have that problem as they are essentially an open, raw audio format to begin with. In practical terms, they are not much different from tapes.
So we make mix CD's, we back up our masters, so the heat from the car doesn't ruin albums we might not be able to buy again, we transcode for our portable media player, or frankly the media player we made ourselves! Mix CD's to express our love for somebody else? Yeah, doing that is OK too.
What this means is we've always been able to make copies for friends. The answer above from the RIAA actually doesn't state this, and for obvious reasons, but the reality of things is clear. What that answer does state clearly is that we are just fine making a copy for the car. In fact, this is nicer than the backup CD, in that it's not really portable like a backup CD is.
Here's a notable question for you:
Say you archive your CD collection. Then you give the originals away. Ethics would have you get rid of the backups. But the law? No requirement at all. Doing this is shitty, but not something one is going to jail for.
Hope these clowns choke on a dick.