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Wednesday, 09 November 2011


Well, if you record it to Music CD-R you are actually paying a royalty. I do not know whether this gives you license to copy anything you want, but in your case I think it would put you well into the "legal" territory and you can do what you want with your vinyl.


There are reasons why I would NOT toss my originals but they aren't related to IP law or what they may or may not be worth to anyone else. In my view, if the decision has already been made to ditch them, I would ditch them however I pleased. Nothing else would be applicable.

You asked what my next step would be, but this only answerable in some pat, example scenarios.

1) I'm on my deathbed: it doesn't matter
2) I want some cash: I'd sell them
3) I'm healthy but don't value them and/or don't value the time necessary to sell and/or give them away: dumpster

Throw a dart, every answer, and the shades of gray between them is "correct." I can comment with opinions on music IP law in an inexpert way, but even if I were an expert I'd like to imagine that arguing it doesn't apply to the central question would be easy.

I'd donate the whole collection to some sort of museum or public collection (Library of Congress?) that would give back to the community after the copyright on the items expires.

If that doesn't work, I'd put them for sale on the 'bay and never look back. The amount matters as it should at least be a reward for the trouble of shipping the items.


I truly don't remember what you did, so I will take that as an advantage when writing my answer.

I am sort of a pack rat. I say sort of, because I can get rid of things, but some things are harder to give away than others, so I tend to keep more than I should in average. In the case of Vinyl I should say that I would rather have the object, even if I have already imported the music to my computer. If only to some times listening to it in a good turn table again (not that I see that happening any time soon).

On the other hand I would maybe give away some records (or sell them for a nominal fee) that I do not want to keep anymore, even though I might have recorded the music for some of them, but that would be a minority.

I do have many CDs that I have imported to my computer (not the same thing, but close) and I am not getting rid of them any time in the near future. So I suppose that is what I would do with a big collection of vinyl records.

I have no legal qualms selling the records (or CDs) but I just would not do it.



Taking a step back and ignoring any potential laws, IF many of those records are NOT for sale commercially anymore, what are you robbing the artist of? Would they make another sale and/or get royalties if you didn't sell those records? No. So, with that in mind you aren't "stealing" anything from them. I see no harm in selling those records.

In fact, odds are if the records/albums are no longer commercially viable products, meaning they are not currently being manufactured and assuming they may be somewhat obscure, isn't it likely that the artist may be flaterred that someone is still listening to them and enjoying them...let alone two people, or three, etc...

I can only speak for myself in that I get satisfaction when others enjoy my work, and I don't think I'm alone. Based on Mike's comments recently about how to price a photograph, and comments made by Brooks Jensen when he talks about editioning, I think I am in the majority...that I want more people to enjoy my work than less. If I, as an artist, am not going to gain any more monetary rewards from my work, I would want to gain ego rewards knowing people still appreciate my work.

I see your dilemma as a win/win if you resell the albums not commercially available.

What would I do? I'd sell the vinyl on eBay or locally and not look back for a second. I'd consider the little bit of money I made compensation for all the crap songs I had to listen to at least once because they were used to pad the content of an album. :)

I would create high-quality copies of the media I own so they can be accessible beyond the traditional electronic devices needed to enjoy them. After creating the copies, I would back them up using a reliable storage method. Once everything is copied, I'd find some way to store the physical media for the long term.

Not because I'm afraid of or respect copyright laws, but because having the original means I can make another high-quality copy in the future if something happens to my archive.

Blanket laws in support of IP aren't the way to go, in my opinion. If musicians want to control their work, they need to make it a dead-obvious upfront contractual sale. Pay more to get more utility from the music.

Well, you might have said "This is for Americans". For all that more or less every IP law in the Western world observes the Berne convention, each country has its own twists.

For instance, our law says - loosely translated - that every physical person (as opposed to a legal entity) can reproduce a work for their own private use or any other personal use which is not intended for commercial exploitation and is not either intended for or available to the public.

You can even reproduce whole books that way (photocopying. we are in some ways quite backward) if the said book is out of print for at least two years.

Should I want to do something like you, I wouldn't think about the law at all in the first place. :)

But throwing the albums away... oh, man, I wouldn't have the heart to do that. I've got about two hundred vinyls from my high school and early university days. A mixture of teenage crap and some good stuff. I haven't touched them in about twenty years, since my turntable broke down. But I don't want to throw them away. Taking an LP into my hands is a completely different experience than clicking a playlist in Winamp. LPs are wonderful. I'll rather let them gather more dust in the cupboard than throw them away.

BTW, the sale argument is wrong however you look at it. You are the owner of a physical object so you can and may do whatever you want with it. Trash it, burn it, sell it, make a gift of it, entomb it in carbonite... Should that change, may Kwannon have mercy on us all.

i used to have a collection of about 1,000 vinyl lps, mostly british and japanese imports. after acquiring my first cdplayer (1982 or thereabouts), i started replacing my lps with cds. i've managed to find about 90% of my old collection in digital format. the other 10%? well who cares?

the thing i miss the most about those scratchy old vinyl disks is the covers. the rest ....

took the lps to bert's on yonge street or the record peddlar on queen or gave them to friends and eventually reduced the collection to zero. mp3/aac didn't really come along until long after my lps were already in someone else's possession.

however, i've ripped all my cds to mp3/aac and carry them around in my various ipods. i still have ALL the source cds. wondering why as they take up a fair amount of space. maybe because i still don't really trust the hard drive(s) that hosts my collection.

by the way, ip law and the desires of the record companies are only vaguely in sync. there's lots of room for fair use and format shifting whereas the record companies would like you to pay them over and over again for the same old stuff in order to keep them from a well-deserved bankruptcy.

I cannot offer experience transferring music from vinyl to digital. My albums are long gone. But I do, rather routinely, transfer material from purchased CDs to digital (iTunes -> iPod/iPad). Addressing your questions:

- No, I don't value the original medium. I value the material it conveys.

- No, I don't feel guilty sidelining the plastic discs. I do, however, feel inconvenienced storing their useless carcasses.

- I do not sell or otherwise redistribute the original discs...much to my inconvenience in storing them. Although the material would not be of much value to a wide audience it really would not matter to me. I do respect intellectual property rights and would only resell the CDs if I destroyed my digital copies.


Typo correction: ...the material WOULD NOT be of much value to a wider audience..."

I would retain the records. Copying them to mp3 for personal/private use seems to fall under fair use of the content you own. However, once you get rid of the record (sell, gift, trash, whatever) I don't see where legally or morally you have the right to retain a digital copy you made.

Oh, this is simple. Here's what I'd do:

I'd sell the old vinyl albums only to people who already owned copies (on vinyl or CD) – in other words, they would be buying replacements because of the condition of their existing copies or duplicates because the ones I was selling had some uniqueness or collectible value.

They'd already have paid for the music and would be buying only the physical object.

Now finding people who meet these criteria might be a challenge, but there are only so many problems my Solomon-like wisdom can solve at a stroke. :-)

First of all, I do not feel emotionally connected to physical property, even though I can appreciate its beauty: If I want music, I don't care about the medium (likewise with prose). If I want a desk lamp, it's probably gonna be a more expensive, more beautiful one than necessary, but I won't tie any emotions to it and gladly let it go - give it to a friend, probably - once I don't need or want it anymore.

I value my time and well-being more than money (easy to say as someone who has more than enough - as most in the western world).

Oh, and I live in Germany, so that probably affects my views regarding IP law - even if the music industry has largely succeeded in getting the western world to harmonize to US standards. That said, I wouldn't waste too many thoughts on that: I've bought the record at some point in the past, so my duty towards the rights holders is done, and I won't be offering the songs up for free digital mass distribution.

I would digitize those records that I cared for, and for which the time and effort are worth it (i. e. a digital equivalent is hard to find or prohibitively expensive).

I'd offer the old records up for free among friends. Those that remain, I would either give wholesale to a charity or offer them up (again, all or nothing) for interested parties if I believed they were rare enough that somebody might get some enjoyment out of them. Realistically, I'd probably throw them away.

Throwing away things is a double-edged sword for me: Part of me feels guilty throwing away something that could still be useful for somebody else, but another part of me recognizes it as the easiest route to unburden my mind of possessions that would weigh me down. The latter part usually wins (but I try and make sure to offer still-useful stuff up to friends).

I have recently been rewatching the StarTrek Next Generation TV series. One of the major technologies in that universe is a "replicator", a device that can produce (almost) any product for next to zero cost. One of the consequences of this device is that money doesn't exist.
Now back to your point. If the artists in question (let's leave out the distributors to make the argument easier to see...) did not need money. That is, there was no need for them to trade their art/music for the necessities or luxuries in life, the point would be irrelevant. You could make all the copies you wish, and give away (since money doesn't exist) the vinyl.
Now the artists do need to eat, and they do need to be rewarded for producing their art. The only way we have to do this in today's society is to pay them with money. You have already paid the artist when you bought the original vinyl. If you were to sell the record, the artist will get no money from the sale. The argument comes up that you are replacing a sale that the artist would have made if you had not sold your copy. However you are selling the used records at a discount price (probably) from the retail price, so it might just fall under someones price threshold. ie they would not buy at full price anyway.
The vinyl may not be available, especially if they are older recordings. Finally, the contract with the original artist with the distribution company may be over, so they get little, if any royalties off a sale.
My opinion? Sell the vinyl for a nominal fee to a good home. The nominal fee is to cover your efforts in finding the good home. Music, and art in general, is supposed to be enjoyed.
Now if I could figure out how to let people enjoy my photography, while enabling me to get my new camera.....

If I wanted to sell the records, but did not know of the legality of doing so, I would find out in advance. Then react accordingly.

I would sell the records, if I could, for whatever buyers are willing to pay me for them. It would not make much difference to me whether it was a private sale to an individual or a sale to a 2nd-hand store. Either way, neither the artist nor the publisher would benefit from this secondary transaction, so on the face of it, it does not affect them one way or the other, if at all. But it keeps the content in circulation, which in some vague way sounds like a good thing.

I can see the argument that by buying the articles second-hand, the artist and publisher are being deprived of sales of their new issues. I can't dismiss this argument, but I can see how in the long run, an initial release price structure might emerge that takes that into account. Didn't blank cassette sales have such a "tax"?

OTOH,the cassette as backup argument is somewhat problematic as well. Why should I be allowed to make a backup of my music? When the vinyl wears out, maybe I should buy a new record. People don't make photocopies of all their books in case they lose the originals in a river while fishing, although they may start making backups of e-books, the way they make backups of software and music.

The physical entity does not mean much to me. The content is inifinitely reproducible, except in the rare cases (less rare as time goes on and people lose stuff) where the "masters" were lost. In the case that the masters were lost, and I knew that they were lost, then I'd feel some responisibility in caring for the physical records, although I am not sure what I would do. Leave to a museum, maybe? but that only works for items that museums think are worth preserving.

But not everything is worth preserving. Who chooses?

I occasionaly watch Antiques Roadshow and a recurring conversation between my wife and me (she's an artist painter) is how those dead artists don't get any benefit from their fame, but that some guy who ended up with the painting by fluke can finance his retirement with a painting he knows nothing about. Seems unfair, but there's no final arbiter of fairness in the sky who will design a better system.

What if some really rich guy who hates Picasso goes on a spree to buy evert Picasso on earth just so he can burn them? What argument could we use to stop him, if he was the rightful owner of the works? I don't know.

In the end, the fact that there is a market for 2nd-hand records by definition means that people want them, so in general they should be sold if they can be, rather than be destroyed. The artist and the publisher got what they could from the initial release, it's not clear to me that they deserve (in the sense of having earned) any proceeeds from subsequent sales. If anything, the seller of the records did some "work" in inventorying them and caring for them enough that they still have value and they should "deserve" something for that, it seems to me.

Hi Ctein,

Pretty simple. If I were satisfied at my digitized versions to the point I couldn't tell them from the original, I'd sell them at one of several area shops who buy old music. They'll give me a dime on the dollar and that would be that--the music lives on for others to enjoy. The stuff that they reject (always a significant fraction) would go to Goodwill. And oh yeah, the collectable stuff would go on ebay. I have a few LPs probably worth hundreds each.

If I were concerned about angering God I'd donate the money to my daughter's school. I certainly wouldn't trash them--that's immoral based on how I was raised.

I'm an "absolutist" in the other direction. If I've paid my money for music, whatever the format, I can do whatever I choose with it so long as I'm not profiting from it or re-distributing it gratis. I've known business owners visited by ASCAP with a big invoice in hand, so have seen the enforcement side of the equation first-hand. They're not my favorite organization.

I bought LPs for years before there was any competition (besides 8-tracks). When I added a cassette deck to my system I tried and quickly abandoned commercial cassette releases which, from the pop music labels, were uniformly horrible. Even though they were priced higher than LPs, the record companies didn't even try to match LP sound quality. What I did instead was dub LPs to cassette as portable editions. This gave the double benefit of ensuring my LPs lasted longer (I'm a stickler in that regard). What I didn't do was return the LP post-dubbing to Tower (who had a no-questions-asked return policy and a shrinkwrap machine in back). Some folks did this routinely.

I haven't dubbed a cassette in probably fifteen years and have racks of them gathering dust. One car in the garage still has a cassette player as part of the audio system; when it's gone I suppose my tape collection will head to the great landfill (other than the irreplaceable recordings) unless I can find somebody who wants them. They have zero commercial value.

Whither the LPs? I doubt I have your patience for digitizing (in real time?!?) and then cleaning the files, but I do have a 9Y.O. I might be able to train for the task. ;-) I have an excellent turntable so occasionally still listen to them, and there are a couple hundred with no digital equivalent begging to be brought into the 21st century. I'm still shocked at how much better certain LPs sound than their digital versions (although SACD comes darn close). This is an(other) area in which the record companies have failed both their artists and customers.

Unlike the UK, I've never paid to listen to radio so I don't have the mindset I must pay every time I listen to a song. If I make the purchase, what I've bought is the right to listen to it at my bidding rather than somebody else's. I extend this to the format I choose to listen to.



I definitely find myself in a conflict here.

I have zero ethical qualms about transcribing my vinyl to digital form.

I have ethical qualms about destroying the vinyl when I'm done. Some of them are probably somewhat rare, somewhat hard to find, somewhat in demand, so destroying them is wrong.

I have ethical qualms about transferring (selling or giving away) the vinyl and keeping the digital version. I think creative artists should be rewarded for their work, and the mechanism adopted is IP law. (I might be able to assuage the ethical qualms here if an expert convinced me it was clearly legal; but I'm fairly confident it isn't.)

So, for me, there's no really good way to proceed with disposing of the vinyl.

Lots of things would play into my final decision. One is, if the work is not available in digital or CD form, I'm not being provided an obvious means to send money to the artist. If I can't do the right thing, I'm less concerned about minor wrongness in what I end up doing. (This is not a legal principle. It's not an ethical principle for a lot of people. But I find it's an important practical principle for me personally. I'm not a black-and-white guy, most things are shades of gray; if I'm blocked from the "right" action, that doesn't for me permit all possible other actions.)

I'm primarily concerned with the artist (which may mean multiple people; composers, lyricists, arrangers, performers at least); although the legal rights of publishing and distribution corporations may be equal, my concern for them is not equal.

I'd probably spend rather more time than the amounts of money involved really justified figuring out what to do and implementing it. I might try to track down artists, at least small ones, and send some payments directly (maybe sell the album and give the money to the artists). I wouldn't do that with publishing companies, because it's a little too close to admitting to a crime.

I personally don't find hiding behind a smokescreen ethically satisfactory (in some cases I would consider it safer, though). So putting them out in the alley the day before trash day in the expectation that somebody would take them, thus preserving them without doing anything wrong myself, doesn't make me feel any better.

Here's my take:
- if done for personal use alone (that is, you aren't intending to distribute the digital bits outside your home), you can make all the digital copies/archives you want. That would fall under fair use. (Whether or not you fall afoul of the DMCA is another matter.)
- once a copy is made, you aren't under any further obligation to keep the original media. Regardless of if you have made an archive of it or not, if you sold it to someone else, the original artist would not receive any royalties; this is true for all physical media. (Argue /license/ all you want. License is not the same as Law.) Further, destruction of the original item does not impinge on your right to keep the digital copy - after all, that copy is the point: a backup of the original (and vice versa). If your house burnt to the ground, your backups of the media are still yours.
- With regards to music, keeping the backup after getting rid of/selling the original is not really that different than recording it from the radio. The royalties have already been paid (likely more substantially from the purchase of the record than the radio), and so there is no issue. (for me, anyway)

Now whether or not you decide that a license supersedes your fair use ability is up to you; but those records wouldn't have had a "license" like is now used with music and movies and such.

Thanks for posing the question. Without looking at others answers, here's what I'm thinking.

It doesn't seem...right...to me to throw away perfectly good records just because I've extracted all the music from them. Albums have some value* as art objects and historical curiosities, outside of their purpose as a music container.

It doesn't feel quite right to profit from duplicating them, so I would consider giving them away to people who would use them. There's not much difference between doing that, and loaning a record to a friend so they can make a copy, except in this case I keep the copy and they keep the artifact.

I'm not moved by considerations of "diluting the market" for the work. The albums are either out of print (and probably were so within a month of issue) or available on CD. If they are still available on CD, the digital format is so much more useful, that the value of the album is entirely as an artifact. If they are out of print, then who benefits from a re-sale? Not the original artist, nor the original distributors, nor the original (now long-gone) retail operations. Making a copy doesn't affect their fortunes.

Ctein, you specifically asked about a hypothetical where the albums were worth 5$ each, instead of perhaps fifty cents. I think any reluctance on my part to not charge for them would evaporate in that case. I'm not sure if that is greed or practicality. "Hundreds" of records (200? 500?) at 5$ each is in the range of 1000-2500$, and I wouldn't let that opportunity pass me by - I don't think it would be the responsible thing to do. Would I let a similar size windfall go from my IRA, knowing that my family would be harmed in the long term? I doubt it.


*not as much as one would think, all you hoarders who are reading this. And I know you are!

Most of not all my music is in the form of something physical; wax cylinders, 78 rpm
shellac and yes vinyl LPs.

I also have the proper equipment to play same.

The compact disc or portable storage device is strictly a convenience factor, for me.

Ny entire cassette collection (2000+)is in the process of being converted (as time and
my mood allows) to first CD however also being converted to a solid stage storage device. The recording medium tends to age
over time; yet my extensive collection of VHS and Beta tapes is in fine shape. And they are not being converted to some other medium.

And as to long term for the original items? The wax cylinders and the pre-WWII records are all destined for an audio museum after my passing along with the proper equipment to listen to them.

My collection is fairly basic, although it has a very definite basis towards string and
wind instruments specifically pianos and pipe organs with some harp music for good measure.

At my age (65) figure maybe another ten to fifteen years, if I am lucky. After that my estate shall distribute the items to the appropriate museums and people. After that, does it matter?

Yes, in one instance; even at my age of listening to an tuning pipe organs am still able to distinguish between an LP playing
and a compact disc doing the same selection. The compact disc reproduction is simply not the same.

Copy wrights and similar have long been paid on the recorded music you have now.

Keep one thing in mind; if all your saved
music disappeared suddenly what would be your feelings, if any!

That's the final solution, no more no less.

Ah, the wonderous slippery slope called `piracy', where both parties involved are lying. The music (and motion picture) industies call it stealing, which it isn't, it's copyright violation, while John Doe is of the opinion that since copying a file is free for him to do, why should said industry ask money for it. But the question about digitizing legal stuff is even grayer.

The big problem with the situation you describe is that back when we still bought music and movies on physical carriers, be they vinyl, CD, VHS, DVD or whatever, there was no clear agreement what you were buying: Were you paying for the physical device, or for the music/movie thereon? This wasn't a big problem, since the two were the same. If you sold one, you lost both.

But with digital files, there is no physical carrier to pay for, nor to sell if you don't want it anymore. The industries have thus started calling it `Digital Rights', a term sufficiently obfuscated that it can apply to all manner of crimes, while John Doe is left with a bunch of analog records, to which Digital Rights is pretty much an anathema.

I pose a counter-question: If, instead of carefully converting your records to digital files, you had just gone to your friendly neighbourhood piracy website, and downloaded everything you owned (for this example, let's assume you could find everything you had in digital format). Would that have been more, or less illegal than putting in all the work yourself?

Personally, I own quite a lot of CDs (I'm not old enough for vinyl). These all reside in several large suitcases in the attic, while they get listened to in digital format. Each new acquisition gets played exactly once, by the converter software, after which it joins its siblings in the suitcase.

A good friend of me loves movies. Yet all his DVDs are still shrink-wrapped, for the simple reason that in the time it would take him to get to the real movie, past all the copyright warnings, commercials and other crap, he can download a digital copy of the same movie. Which then plays immediately, rewinds and forwards faster, and can't get scratched, broken or used as a coaster accidentally.

So to answer your question: I wouldn't sell my records, but I wouldn't feel guilty about obtaining the same material in a newer format not available when I bought said record. I would NOT however, start buying vinyl records and VHS tapes from the 5-cent-bargain-bin, only to then download high-quality versions online. But if you bought the material new in that format, you paid full price, and should be able to keep enjoying it, even when the carrier in question has been phased out.

This is my opinion, but like you, I'm not sure if it's within the law. As I said before, I don't know if anyone knows that. When I bought that VHS tape 15 years ago, there was no disclaimer saying: "Once you can no longer economically buy a player for this tape, you automatically lose the rights and will have to buy it again in a format available at such time."

The best solution would of course be a trade-in program, where you send in your old media, and get the latest version back from the manufacturer. But that's never going to happen.

A relevant link in this regard: Don't make me steal.

Very often an album is not just a means to deliver audio content - it is a complete "multi-media" work of art. (I mean - how can you enjoy the humor of The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief album in a digital format?)

You are very likely within your statutory fair use rights to transfer the vinyl records to more modern media so long as you retain the vinyl records. Vinyl records were sold without the requirement for you to first agree, explicitly or implicitly, to a restrictive end user license agreement (EULA)before turning the record.

It's worth noting that your existing use privileges will be essentially worthless in the future due to continuing technical changes if you do not transfer these recordings soon, due to the unavailability of turntables, appropriate amplifiers, etc. That would not be an appropriate conclusion to your fair use rights.

Many of us have read about the data access problems that even NASA is experiencing regarding older 1970s planetary probe baseline data that was preserved on mainframe tape rather than being transferred and updated to something more modern and universally accessible. Transferring your vinyl to a clean digital format is similar.

From a photographic standpoint, we should keep the continuing accessibility and usefulness of our digital image RAW file formats in mind, converting them to more generally accessible formats like DNG when appropriate.

Not addressing the questions posed, nevertheless:

I take it you're very confident in the persistance (archivalness?) of the digital form of your music. Do you back it up the same way you back up digital images?

Kenneth Tanaka,
How do you store the CD-carcasses? My spouse and I went through and pulled the artwork and recycled the cases, and put the disks in a CaseLogic 320-cd binder. About 760 cubic inches altogether, and about 30$. [Seriously! On sale now!] Our modest collection is somewhere in the 170-220 item range, so about half the pockets have the paper.

We've housed the DVDs similarly, though the artwork is more tedious to extract, so the cases live in a box in the basement. Right now I pull one out occasionally to rip and put on the ipod, but when hard drives get a little cheaper, we'll make lossless copies of those as well. Chances are we won't even buy a Blu-ray player. We've learned our lesson: little plastic disks are a storage-and-transport medium, not a playback medium.

To bring this back on topic, we probably won't sell our disks even though we have digital copies. Why? By the time hard drive space is cheap enough to store lossless or uncompressed files, the resale value of the disk has dropped too low to waste time selling it. E.g.: used cds are in the 50 cent range, and the whole collection fits on a single SD card. DVDs are in the 1-5$ range, but I don't quite have enough spare gigabytes left to store all of them uncompressed AND make adequate offsite backups. (I'd rather store my photographs!) I'd say that the 1-5$ range is the event horizon for whether it is wort spending time to re-sell. Blu-rays are a pretty good value, but I really don't have space for those...

If anyone is still wanting to think about the legalities of how many pieces of intellectual property can dance on the head of a pin, consider this: when I am gone, my children, their spouses, and my grandchildren will have perfect digital copies of all my media. Which one is the "original" and do they have to keep the little plastic disks?



A breif note ...

In the UK music media transfers are technically illegal (a civil matter) but everybody does it - a bit like speed limit plus 4.
There is legislation in program for this parliament to regularise the matter anmd permit copying of for example vinyl to CD or CD to mp3. However the original media must not be sold on.

It's a funny world when the big moral questions have to do with personal music collections. Will future historians laugh at our navel-gazing while around us the world is re-ordered?

In practical terms, I doubt the music companies lose much sleep over people transferring their vinyl to digital--that has got to be something like 0.00001% of the market. What they worry about is kids transferring entire song libraries to all their friends at school.

In my case I just store all the originals in the garage--the idea being that I'll no doubt want to transfer them again with better technology at some point. But I'm not keeping them for moral reasons or from some fear of Mr. Record Man knocking on the door.

Thus my answer is "none of the above." I don't see any significant (in which I mean meaningful to the supposed aggrieved party) moral question here and I don't know about the legal issues (although whatever they are they are unenforceable).

Don't lose sleep over it. I sure don't.



I really like the clarity and pointedness of your writing.

We are buying a medium and this implies the right to play the music, as often as we want. I bought some music twice, or even three times. Original vinyl. CD. Digitally remastered CD. No one cares about that, either.

Te absolvo.


In my case, I could not get copies from vinyl that were good enough. So, I decided which of the 120 or so I cared about and either ripped them off my brothers CD copies or bought them on CD (old stuff is cheap!).
Then I got a record dealer around to buy any that were worth anything. I still have the rest. Regrets? Only Neil Young's Time Fades Away and a couple of others.
Copyright? Bah. I've bought 5 or 600 albums new (vinyl or CD). They've had my pound of flesh.

I very much value LPs as physical artifacts for a few reasons

At one time LP jacket art and photography was pretty amazing. William Claxton , Lee Friedlander, and Marvin Israel's work for Atlantic is astounding. William Eggleston's LP covers are beautiful.

A lot of my collection is either stuff that sold in the double digits ( meet the residents sold 40 copies ) or was "bootleged" by bands with contract problems (the first devo album ), or is just plain weird ( spoken word LP by Timothy Leary ? ).

LPs are sort of like driving a 1970 Porsche. As a car for getting from one place to another it's just awful compared to a 5 year old Subaru. Other than that it's wonderful.

Selling records you own is clearly legal, covered by a statutory copyright exception known as the First Sale Doctrine, and codified in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 109.

"The first sale doctrine ... provides that an individual who knowingly purchases a copy of a copyrighted work from the copyright holder receives the right to sell, display or otherwise dispose of that particular copy, notwithstanding the interests of the copyright owner."


That exception has nothing to do, however, with your making and keeping an additional copy of the original. That's a whole other kettle of fish. It's not entirely clear (I see definitive answers that are completely contradictory), but it seems likely that it's perfectly legal to make a copy of your record or CD for your iPod or computer or for backup.

The tricky part, and I have no clue how it falls out, is whether you're entitled to own those copies once you've sold the original records and you thus no longer have a copy of a record you legally own.

(I was a Legal Aid lawyer for many years, but I'm no expert in intellectual property law.)

Interesting issue, as there's both the content and the medium it was distributed on. Presumably Ctein bought the records for the music they contained rather than the physical platters used to deliver it. He wanted to keep the content. Does that mean he's obliged to keep the platters?

If he'd sent the records to the dump, personally I'd say there's clearly no violation of the artists' rights. The same owner still has access to the same content, and no one else was given access to that content. The creator didn't lose any potential sales (unless you think they have the right to make someone repurchase the content when they want it on different media.) Ctein just reclaims some shelf space.

Of course, while sending them to the dump prevents any potential erosion of the artists rights, its got its own drawbacks -- taking up landfill space for something that's still clearly useful. Something feels wrong about that.

There are some similarities with the (mercifully short-lived) DRM-enabled online music purchases. The ability to play the music was tied to the computer used to purchase the music, and enabling playback on a different computer required the consent and cooperation of the online retailer. If the retailer went out of business or otherwise stopped allowing users to authorize different computers, is the buyer obligated to hold on to the original (authorized) computer in order to access the content they paid for? Or are they within their rights to break or bypass the DRM (e.g. by burning an audio CD and then reimporting the music sans-DRM) so that they can dispose of the old (authorized) computer?

Whether selling the albums is wrong kind of depends your view of copyrights in general. Should the author/creator have rights that last for their lifetime (and beyond)? Or should copyrights be more like patents, which have a set term and expire? Also, should copyright apply to works (especially mass-produced ones) when the rights holder is no longer making them available for purchase?

I would do what you did (and have already done so for my collection of cassette tapes) with a completely clear conscience.

I'm in Canada, and under Canadian law I've already paid a royalty to ASCAP/SOCAN/BMI for every CD-R that I own. This media levy was imposed by the Canadian Gov't in 1998 under the assumption that people were doing what you did: rip the original to the digital domain for the convenience of private use on computers and portable players, and disposing of the original in whatever way they saw fit. The law does not require me to keep the original, all it says is that the right to make a private digital copy only applies to "commercial sound recordings of musical works" (not movies or computer software) and that the COPY must remain in the hands of, and for the private use of, the person who made the copy. So I can't hand out copies to all my friends. But I COULD borrow a record or CD from the library and make a copy of it to CD-R. The disposition of the original doesn't enter into it at all.

As of 2009, over 150 million dollars had been collected and distributed from blank media sales. See, I've already paid twice.

I keep a copy of every ripped album on both CD-R and hard disk, because I don't trust the longevity of either. I've only started tackling the vinyl so I'm grateful for the info from the two prior articles (and comments).

I don't think it is very important to worry about these things, but it's fun to think about them. As you say, a few miles over the speed limit, if that. Most likely you would only start to break the law more seriously if you shared them with everyone on the internet, or sold CD's on the sidewalk... "Ctein's Careful Copies, Cheap."

However, there's another way to think about it that makes the idea of copying feel different : You have a beautiful print you purchased from a photographer in your house. Do you feel comfortable photographing that photo to make a smaller print for your bathroom? Would you only feel comfortable if the print was mass marketed like a vinyl album, or is a copy of a limited run print ok? Can you scan it, make some improvements in photoshop, and print it for your office? Is a vinyl album like a print, or more like a jpeg, or something else? My "inner guide" tells me it's okay to copy the album and use those copies anywhere I want, and I'd be a little more hesitant to make copies of the photographs and display them. Could that be because humans value visual art more in some way? Or is it because we value what we produce ourselves?

To further twist one's noodle, also consider the implications if the LP in question were purchased used. Does that change your answer?

I just finished ripping to lossless format my entire CD collection (~1000 discs). As for me, I don't think it is proper to sell the CDs if I'm keeping the music. This value judgement applies only to me (and I've got plenty of IP inconsistencies in my moral code). Its a good thing I'm keeping them (in boxes hidden from sight) because as I've been listening, I've found discs that have not transferred properly and need re-ripping. If I had gotten rid of the discs, I'd be out of luck.


What would I do? I probably wouldn't have spent the time and effort converting a large vinyl collection to MP3. Factoring in the cost of getting the right equipment and time to sit down manually pressing buttons and flipping the records, for me it would be more economical to repurchase the tunes I liked (either digital or CD) and then sell the vinyl.

If there were a few really special tunes no longer available, then I'd probably hang on the vinyl after making a digital file from it.

Keep the records.

To me, any question of sales and money are irrelevant. I've lived 75% of my life below the poverty line so for me money is not as important as most people I know seem to think it is. Useful? Certainly. Important? No. I've had to make do with hand-me-downs, scavenged items and learning to make things last. The concept of updating a product every six months is just mind blowingly wasteful to me. So in a similar situation I would keep (and have kept) vinyl records simply because there is nothing wrong with them.

I also enjoy listening to music, not just "having music playing". I will sit in the dark, kick back and just listen to music. Enjoying it. Letting it take me where it will. In particular vinyl still has the tactile appeal to me: the balancing of the turntable, the cleaning of the vinyl, the lyrics sleeve to follow alone to and the album artwork that I find appealing in the larger format compared to what you get with a compact disc.

Another factor for me is even if there is an alternate format version available it's often a "remaster" and especially in the past decade that also means a loss of dynamic range to make the remaster more friendly to compressed formats. I won't debate the analog vs digital aspect that's already been done to death elsewhere though. I do mostly listen to MP3s because of convenience and the quality is great. But when I want to chill out and listen to an album I prefer the original mastering (sometimes vinyl, sometimes CD).

Having transferred my vinyl to digital formats doesn't guarentee I'll always be able to listen to them. Especially for albums that don't exist to buy anywhere on any format other than vinyl. Hard drives, CDs, DVDs etc seem to crash, scratch, self-destruct far more readily than vinyl. I've had numerous hard drives die on me, and CDs I'd burnt 15yr ago have had split apart or pealed and are effectively destroyed. Yet vinyl twice as old is still in good condition and still playable. So for me a digital copy I make of vinyl is more like a temporary copy. Technology improves and maybe I can afford a better turntable in the future and will be able to make another digital copy that captures an even cleaner copy of the vinyl. Copying analog, unlike digital, always involves some degree of quality loss so in the future someone somewhere is going to be able to make a better copy from the vinyl record than what is currently possible. We may be talking the difference of 0.01% but if the difference can be measured it will matter to someone.

As my life has been a struggle and value to me hasn't really anything to do with money if I was to actually get rid of my vinyl physically from my life I would be giving them to friends who I know still enjoy listening to vinyl or collect it. As things have improved for me and I've outgrown or upgraded possessions I have been able to pass on items to people I know will make use of them. Throwing away an item that does its job just fine I feel is selfish and wasteful. Most people see homeless people as criminals and drug addicts and ignore them on the street. They have no idea how easy it can be to end up in the same situation through no fault of their own, through no substance abuse, through no illegal circumstances whatsoever. So even passing things on to a charity are better than just throwing it away. Environmentally better and just better for humanity. By all means sell if that's what matters to you though.

Oddly enough, I just re-read for the fifth time Ctein's post and realised his question is really about the law of what to do (or our perception). So I guess I am guided more by morality than law. People in law enforcement that I've met have always been bullies. So "law" is not something I care about. Morality (which many laws are based on) are more important to me. To be honest if person A copies a record and sells the record to person B, then person B has got the better part of the deal. Person A is left with a (slightly) inferior copy and the risk that the wonders of the digital age will destroy the copy anyway.

I know people will claim this behaviour is theft. Maybe in the technical letter of the law it is. But theft to me is what it's always been: depriving someone of something. But nobody is being deprived. The next argument is "well, what about the artists and the record companies?". Buying anything second hand only profits money to the seller (and transactional middle-men) but none of the money will ever get back to the band who produced the music. Ever. You could even argue ebay is a global illegal black market on such grounds. The vinyl was produced and sold and profits made from that originally which ended up where the royalties were meant to end up. There is no contractual arrangements attached to the vinyl to determine what a second hand sale transaction should consist of. It's an unworkable idea for a second hand market to have any obligations to the primary market. Prices are not set by profit goals and sales figures but by what people are willing to pay (which in turn is influenced by rarity, condition and other personal considerations).

Morally what is the right thing to do? Hard to say. I have no problem with someone copying their vinyl then selling/giving it away. Selling the digital copies too I would object to. Buying vinyl brand new today expressly to copy it and sell the vinyl on or return it for refund tomorrow I would also object to. But selling genuinely second hand there is no problem, it is only of concern to the buyer and seller. Whether the seller has or has not made any sort of copy of the vinyl before selling is purely a moral/ethical question only the seller can answer.

I have about 500 albums, which I retain because I like both the music and the vinyl experience. I've separately purchased CDs, some of which replicate the music on vinyl. I've never digitized anything and have no intention to do so. This doesn't reflect your scenario, but it's reality for me, and that's all I can address for sure.

Roughly 200 of my albums were handed down to me from my parents, and I grew up listening to music from their generation as well as my own. When I'm no longer interested in the vinyl experience, I'll likely follow their path and give the records to my nephew, who is 30 years younger than I, but who sometimes wishes he grew up in earlier times. He always gets a kick when I tell him that I saw live performances from performers and groups now defunct, but whose music he has discovered decades later. I know the music will be in good hands.

I have to wonder if the reader who was so concerned about not breaking the law has ever ordered from out of state and not paid sales or 'use tax' for his home state. Most states with sales tax require a person to pay a use tax on goods purchased out of state where the vendor does not collect sales tax for the home state of the buyer. However many buyers don't even know about these laws. With so many states now with serious fiscal shortfalls you can bet they are moving as hard as they can to close that loophole.

Well, I ripped all the tracks and then put all the tapes, records and CD's into storage the volume isn't that big of deal as long as I don't need access to them.

To answer your question. When I buy a CD, I'm buying a right to a copy of the music to be used for my personal listening pleasure. i.e. I'm buying both the disc and a license to listen to the music. So IMHO, if I still own the disc I still own the license.

I love my vinyl. Coltrane, Crumb, Copeland, Miles... I love the vinyl. I keep mine. I have over 125 Blue Note covers alone.

As to the legal implications of selling an album to someone after you have recorded it... I am so protective of rights, but not getting exercised about that much.

I had to get rid of some older classical albums last year, and I went the donation route.

Destroying them makes me sort of physically ill... heh.

As I see it, if you purchase a record/cd, you own the object AND its content - you paid for it. So I don't see anything morally, ethically or legally wrong with keeping the content (the music), and selling the object (the record). It is simply your right to get rid of something you bought. To me, retaining my own copy of the music before selling the record is no different than buying a record, keeping the inside cover with artwork that I like, and selling the record.

However, although it may seem like a minor point, I would consider the reverse to be a legal and ethical violation: if you keep the original, but copy and sell the content (i.e. make extra copies of the music and sell that). Because that explicitly violates the conditions to which you agreed by purchasing the cd/record.

I hope that makes some sense in writing as it does in my mind as I write it down.

I would retain the records. Copying them to mp3 for personal/private use seems to fall under fair use of the content you own. However, once you get rid of the record (sell, gift, trash, whatever) I don't see where legally or morally you have the right to retain a digital copy you made.


As long as you own the original media, transforming it to another media/format should be a perfectly valid use. Once you dispose of the original media, you should dispose of all versions of the work unless they were separately purchased.

I'm pretty sure the RIAA vehemently disagrees with this.

I don't give a rats behind about IP laws with regard to records I have purchased. They are mine and I will do with them what I want.

Personally I would transfer them to DVD's for playing at home, also to mp3 format so I can transfer it to my portable listening device and then carefully store the LP's away.

On one of those rare quite evenings I will steal away to the basement, with a good scotch, fire up my old Quad system, pick out an LP and place it on my Thorens TD160 turntable.

My old reliable Grado cartridge will do it's delicate dance within the LP's grove and I will drift off into an altered state that only good old vinyl and a decent stereo can lull me into.

If you resell the LP then, no, you don't have the right to retain any copies. The right to listen to that music (moral or legal) has moved to the new owner and you don't get visitation privileges.

1. The question is: what would I do? My answer is: I would consult an expert on music IP law before doing anything.

2. Since you've already digitized the vinyl and begun selling it, why did you write and publish this post? If you're doing the same thing regardless of what we say, why do you care what we think? Are you seeking absolution?

3. There is a moral dimension to this scenario. As a photographer, I've had one image stolen from the internet, reworked slightly, and published by another person. I didn't like the experience. Thus, I do not make copies of someone else's music or visual art. "Do unto others ...". I'm not scolding; I'm just answering your question.

I would have no problem with selling the records. It gets the music and the album covers back out into the world, where they can be enjoyed as they were meant to be. Some random buyer might pick one up and be so entranced that they buy more titles from that artist, providing him or her with more royalty income.

The problem would be if I wanted to sell thousands of copies of the the mp3's. There I would be (and should be) in trouble.

I never thought very hard about this issue but my feeling is I bought a thing so I own the thing and I can get rid of it like any other thing I own.

It cuts two ways. I don't recall seeing a notice or coupon in any new CD to refund the IP price that I paid for its vinyl ancestor. It seems the industry acknowledges it is satisfied with a one-time IP fee per object purchased.
I have no qualms disposing of the vinyl records by gift or sale.


My basic rule of thumb is to avoid depriving the original artist of money. I would hope others feel the same way about my work.

Wherever possible, I try to obtain new digital copies of my stuff rather than copy from vinyl. The digital copies are higher quality, and that matters to me; I don't miss the snaps, crackles, and hiss. And, I'm not keeping money from the original artist.

If nothing is available, then I rip the disk and keep the original for backup. I wouldn't really have any trouble selling out-of-print disks, since my sales aren't taking money out of an artist's pocket.

When I paid for those L.P.s (as a younger person with more disposable income)the artist/record company got their dues and I don't recognise any claim they might have for what were unforeseen future sales in different formats other than material costs.

Really, most of the "piracy" problem would go away if the media companies were not so damned greedy in their pricing - price your wares low enough so that it is easier and less hassle to buy a legal copy than to search for an illegal download and transfer to the required format.
Maybe it's just my age but did my declining music purchases from the early 80's come about because the music "lost its magic" or did the lack of that wonderful 12" square artifact (L.P. sleeve) with the birth of CD spell the end of the pleasure in ownership - one can look fondly on a shelf of vinyl in a way that a shelf of CDs never inspires.

Without reading any other comments, I would keep them. I like the physical feel, even if I dont play them, I may (and have) taken out the jacket or booklet that is with the record. It seems silly to keep that bit and not the record.

I ripped all of my CDs years ago and on the rare occasion when I do buy a CD, I immediately rip it and then throw the CD away.

No way in the world am I going to store thousands of CDs somewhere. If doing this is illegal, I don't care.

(On a side note, it's usually cheaper for me to buy a used hardcover book from Amazon (including shipping) than it is to buy a digital version. This is, obviously, crazy.

I'd take mine to a music store I know about that will let me trade them in on other music. That is actually what I plan to do when I move out of this house.

Well, if you make copies, keep'em and sell the originals you are a copyright pirate. Is that ok with you? I don't know. Would the author be ok with it? I don't think so.

Here's the thing: I bought the right to listen to this music. If I make high-quality copies of it (my right), then decide to sell the originals, I can't see how it really (at least morally) matters. If I make no copies and then sell the originals, the music company (and more importantly, the under-compensated artist) receives nothing. If I make high-quality copies and then sell the originals, the music company (and more importantly, the under-compensated artist) receives nothing. I have removed this particular IP from the normal consumption cycle. Whatever I do, it will make no difference to any of the principals involved. If I keep them, no one prospers. If I sell them, no one prospers (well, I do, but none of the principals do). So, in the end, it just doesn't matter. Do whatever your conscience tells you to do...

I have no idea. On one hand I feel that I'd be "cheating" the system we've built to reward artists for their work if I sold the discs yet kept a digital copy around, but on the other hand I feel it'd be... wasteful, perhaps? either not to copy them before letting them go, or to keep them when I'm only interested in their content which I've already moved elsewhere. I'd probably avoid selling them altogether just to avoid asking myself the question.

It's weird, because in the case of photographs or software (and I speak as an amateur photographer and professional software developer), my response would unequivocally be "make digital copies for me and all my friends before letting them go". Perhaps because, being involved in both fields, I'm aware of how large a loss is when the final copy of a great work is lost, and it would kill me if I knew I could've preserved it for latter generations and refused out of some petty moral concerns. Or perhaps I'm just insane; it could be either option, really.

One thing I'm sure about, though: I'd rather give them away on the streets than throw them into the trash. Better to have one surviving copy whose current location is currently unknown than to have no surviving copies except one rotting in a landfill out somewhere.

As far as I can tell, from what you have described of your collection, the law is irrelevant. No one is going to come after you. The total amount of money lost in piracy of jazz and classical music probably couldn't come close to paying the legal fees to take action against you.

(Yes, I realize that many people like jazz and classical - I do as well. The issue is that the demographic that loves jazz and classical is highly unlikely to pirate the music - not a fact, just a belief.)


You know some Dobsonian telescope builder is probably reading this article and lusting after your collection.

This question will not come up for me because I'm too damned lazy to rip all my LPs to MP3. I don't understand how anyone would have the time and patience to do that. I've barely done half of my *CDs*.

But if I did, I'd give away or sell the records at a nominal loss.

I would make sure the records had a good home, whether that meant selling, donating, or giving away.

It's legal to make a copy of a copyrighted recording if the copy is made for personal, non-commercial use. For example, copying 12" vinyl to a cassette so you can listen to it in your car.

However, it is illegal to transfer ownership of any copy to another person by gift or sale. Each copy is for the owner's personal use. Giving a copy to another person is not personal use, and selling a copy is commercial use.

Seems pretty straightforward to me. See http://www.rbs2.com/copyrm.pdf for details. The above quotes were derived from page 17.

Dear Marc,

"Why did you think this was so difficult?"

Well, it wasn't for you. And it wasn't for me. Furthermore, weeding through the posted comments, it clearly isn't difficult for some readers to arrive at an answer they're comfortable with… but it clearly is for others.

Most significantly, you will note that those of us who did arrive at personally-definitive answers do not agree on what those answers are (and also significantly, your definitive answer does not correspond to the majority). Individually it may not have been difficult; collectively and culturally, this is obviously very difficult.

Which is why it made a good topic for discussion.


Dear Vlatko,

No, this one isn't just for Americans. You're right that much of the stuff that gets posted here is, for unavoidable reasons. But this is a question you get to answer in the context of your own personal mores and/or the laws of the culture you live in. Which is part of what makes it interesting.


Dear Mike (Anderson),

No, I'm not very confident. The un-cleaned-up transcriptions all got burned to DVDs and immediately moved off-site; the cleaned up files are on duplicate hard drives. I had two drives go south since I started this (consumer alert: Seagate drives are CRAP). So far, my care has insured that I have not lost any data, But I'm not counting on the future.

On the other hand, as was mentioned in my previous columns on the subject, I was not listening to the vinyl at all. Functionally, the music was already lost to me in that form. If I lose some or all of the transcriptions at some point in the future, I'm not actually any worse off.


Dear Bill (Rogers),

"... why did you write and publish this post?"

Just to be clear, since there is a bit of confusion on this point, this is all in the past for me. Not only is all the music digitized and all the transcriptions cleaned up, all the vinyl has been disposed of. It's not an ongoing process. It's done.

So why did I write this post? Partly for the reason I gave in the very first paragraph. Partly for the reason I gave in my answer to Marc, above. And, partly because I expected to learn something from this discussion, or at least I hoped I would. If I could get people to really think about this and contemplate the import of their answers instead of just replying reflexively. A most satisfactory number of people did just that, and I have learned some things from their answers. Some of it factual, some of it philosophical, but there is both information and ideas in here that I did not know. So for me, this is a win.

If it wasn't for you, well… As I frequently say, check back next week and see if that column is more to your interest.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

I tried to answer last time but I think there was some confusion with the procedure and it never went through. Mike explained later that something like that might happen. So I try again.

I treat music on CDs or other media the same wasy as printed books. When I buy a book, I have a right to read it. I have a right to lend it to someone else to read and I have a right to sell it. I do not have a right to make copies. To me that is exactly what Copy Right is, the right to make copies. So I have a right to listen to the music. I think I have a right to listen to the music I have bought even if technology changes and I need to convert the music to some other format so that I can continue to listen. But when I have done that, I do not have the right to sell the original while keeping the converted version. I have not sold old vinyls or CDs. I don't have so many of them that it would have become a problem. Truth is, if I had hundreds or thousand of them, I might well consider selling, even if I have made some recordings of them. But I would not go and advertise the fact in an internet forum.

I'm cleverly disguised as a responsible adult

I like that. I sometimes refer to myself as having a veneer of professionalism.

As to what I would do: I personally listen to vinyl but in your position I think I would have sold or given away the records. As you would need to be sued individually by every copyright owner concerned then the risk is very minor - mainly because they don't know what you have done (unless they read this website).

One complication with music is that there is copyright on both the original music/lyrics and the performance. And the rules covering each are often different.

On the original question I'm going to offer another question, would you feel the same about selling your digital copy and retaining the vinyl?? Then what is stopping you selling multiple copies of the digital copy? Now I think everyone would say that is definitely not a gray area.

To extend the metaphor further, I'm speeding a little (lot?) faster than Ctein.

I'm probably one of the small minority of readers on this site that think file sharing isn't necessarily a problem for artists (it is clearly a problem for large record companies that peddle more "me-too" singles), since, I've been introduced to a wealth of artistry that most people think died when (the internet/rap/the polyphonic synthesizer/ the electric guitar/ opera) came out. I continue to support these artists.

If you're of the opinion that it is better to destroy a physical copy of a digitized piece of vinyl, I think you might be oversimplifying things. What about the waste of not reusing something that is still reusable? Why deprive someone of the experience of listening and/or owning something they otherwise might not have. If someone is in the used market, what difference does it make whether they buy it from you or a discount store or online? What if it doesn't exist elsewhere but in small quantities?

What is legal straight to the letter of the law will be based upon whether something falls on one side or the other of a red line drawn arbitrarily over a long continuum of grey. That red line falls pretty close to what the recording industry wants, though I understand that they have their needs. Its more of a personal (emotional) choice than anyone would really want to admit.

Here's an alternate twist on the thing that i considered: what about trying to sell the copies back to the record companies as remasters? IIRC, thee were high quality copies that might have interest for re-release purposes.

As to the LPs, I'd have no qualms reselling them once I'd copied them. Vinyl has limited value to me as product.
CDs are a bit different: those I consider my long-term storage, essentially copies with infinite life should my computer copies vanish in a crash.

The medium and the content have been so tightly linked for so many decades, in print, in music, in video, that this whole digital thing is nearly impossible for most of the adult population to grasp.

The cost and payment structure was *so easily* based on the medium, and no other obvious method existed, that everyone [still] takes it for granted that you can charge one for the cost of the other. Charge for the newspaper to pay the journalists, editors, and photographers. Charge for the shiny disc (or the old grooved ones) to pay the recording artists and production staff.

Digital popped this balloon. It’s done. You cannot put a popped balloon back together again.

Now the content distribution medium is in the people’s hands *completely*. This isn't like Xeroxing a book or newspaper or dubbing a cassette tape, computers put the entirety of the distribution network, medium, etc in people hands in a way that allows them to do it even better than the biggest baddest meanest production companies on earth can ever aspire to.

And now you can’t charge for the content using the medium as a cost vehicle.

And now you cannot control the existence of the content by possessing the master, the central repository, the 'good' copy. Every copy is the good copy.

And now it almost seems.... nearly.... like.... all content is free because all media and distribution is free. Copying a mp3, jpg, epub, or pdf file is free. And perfect.

The old salts have become real Angry Bastards, but all the clout in the world cannot un-pop the balloon. Ever since the heyday of Napster its been an all-out war of consumer versus distributor. Artists are on the sidelines. Apple went a long way to invent a new world order with iTunes, removing a lot of the NEED for consumers to learn, practice, and thrive as distributors (pirates).

So lets take a trip down this slippery slope. Sign up for Netflix Blu-Ray by mail. Rip every movie to your hard drive and send it back promptly. Sync all your friends iPods every now and then with the dozens of new movies, so they can go home and play them on the big screen via airplay mirroring on the apple tv (no, please ignore the storage space requirements for now, I know... I know). Share these files via bit torrent.

Oops. Its 1999 again.

Is there an answer to this riddle? How do you profit from creating content when, as soon as the very first person has viewed it, its set free and "owned" by the world at large?

Whacking them in the skull with a big effin hammer is not the right answer.

The idea or concept of ownership in full in perpetuity worked with vinyl records, vhs tapes, and newsprint. That concept no longer works. A time-limited or number of views based license makes more sense, but with the ability for content to move from virtual to physical, new to old medium, and back so easily.... vinyl to mp3 to cd to mp3.... sensible still doesn’t solve the riddle. How can you compete with "free" and profit?

I think the answers are staring us in the face. The old giants are dying. New giants are being born all around us.

Also, I've thought about this regarding ebooks and the Kindle. Some books I'd like to read, for entertainment, then forget about. I don't want to own these books and store them in my house for ever and ever. Some books I want to own for ever. I'd prefer to read them all as ebooks because I prefer the format to paper. But as ebooks are essentially "leased" (read the fine print) to you personally for the term of your life with some restrictions on where and how you may transfer them about, they do not have as much value as a physical book. Fine. Perfect, in fact. They also don't cost the publisher as much to produce and distribute to me as a physical book. Great!

Now look at the pricing on Amazon. Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. The paperback is $9.99 (was around $6 a few months ago), hardcover library binding is $14.18, and the kindle is 12.99 (but was $17.99 a few months ago). You know what I did? I pirated it. I intended (and still intend to) buy a good used hardcover copy to keep, but the reduced-value ebook was and is priced well beyond the higher value unlimited ownership of a good quality print book. That's a load of crap.

...a couple of additional points:

Just because the distribution vehicle is practically free, doesn't make it right to steal it. A few people on here are shrugging their shoulders about that and saying: "...get with the modern times...". I'll bet no one posting on here now is poorer than me, and I'm even on the cusp of losing my living situation, but that still doesn't make me want to steal the intellectual property of the artists I love, whether cinematic, audio, or visual. I want to pay them the probably 99 cents they get when each of these things sells, I want to enrich them and support them so that they can make more of whatever they are making. Theft is not an option! Why you think your are "owed" the right to steal it because the delivery vehicle is virtually free is beyond me: you are not a citizen. May you work in a wage slave job the rest of your life...

Just because I bring a loaded gun to your house, and drive you to a gas station, doesn't make it OK for you to rob it, because it's easier for you to do...

Second, all those who are transferring their vinyls to CD's, I hope your buying the 'good stuff' with the 300 year life dyes, gold sputtering, etc. etc. This is another of my reasons for replacing vinyls with 'bought' CD's. Over-Simplified, it's good to remember that 'manufactured' music CD's are molded with pits and mountains in the surface, over-coated in silver or gold, in which the laser then reads as ones and zeros and produces music. When you burn a CD on your computer, this feature is emulated with dies that are excited by lasers to reproduce this information for the laser that reads the surface and produces the music. If you get a cheap CD to burn from the local drugstore, it could be possible to leave the CD lying in the sunlight for a few weeks and render the CD unlistenable, the dye layer may change that much from the bombardment of UV, heat, or light. If you are buying the expensive stuff to burn CD's, and here lies the rub, the actual cost of the blank CD may not be all that much more expensive than the cost of a remaindered CD that has been manufactured, and therefore, probably is more impervious to error.

Last time I looked, a high quality blank CD with the right dye was running somewhere between a buck and two bucks to buy, and a manufactured CD of most of the stuff I want to replace is running about $2.99. Are you going to play your vinyls into your computer, clean up the pops and tics, and burn it in to a high quality CD to save that little money?

I won´t discuss legal issues because I´m a... ...Lawyer... ...who comes to TOP to forget about all legal rules I have to deal with on a daily basis. So, my answer to you is pretty straightforward: I will never get rid of my originals until I´m quite sure that all the information contained there can be properly translated and digitally stored without ANY loss. As of yet, I´m pretty sure I´d be trashing away precious information that all the digital bits and bytes available today can´t quite convey.

This is almost like throwing out my chromes because they have been properly drum scanned. Could I have gotten as much information out of the scans ten years ago as I can get now? I know more about hi-fi than about digital photography and though I´m not so sure about the answer to this question, I´m quite sure that no digital conversion can match vinyl neither - and that would be a better statement - sound completely like it. So even if we´re not into arguing about what´s best, the mere fact that it can be different makes me still want it. Why stick to one thing if I can have two?

Keep´em safe, I´d say. And yes, I still love the artwork and brochures and, no, I don´t want them scanned because I´d miss the smell too. :)

Interesting post ILTim, but I don't see the "new giants" anywhere. The essential feeling I have as a consumer now is that art that made the transition to digital, especially music, has lost much of its value. I don't know why--it's the same music, wonderfully played, skillfully recorded, but something about digital media and easy access makes me value it much less than ten or twenty years ago. That's why I have few qualms about "piracy" (a stupid exaggeration of a word).
I don't think we will get away from this problem until artists are paid for the work they do like teachers or plumbers rather than being "content owners" always fighting the next battle.

For some lucky listeners in the UK and parts of Europe, this may be a non-issue. If they have a collection of 50 year old vinyl of long dead classical composers, it is now out of copyright. Americans will generally however, have a much longer wait.

I'm jumping in without having read everything.

But if the basic question is can you dupe your own vinyl and then sell the originals:

Can I buy one of your images as a print, scan it, print it, and then sell your print on?

Same concept I think except you can make a much more accurate duplicate of the audio.

Whether or not it is legal - it seems unethical.

On your side of the world, IP laws are different than in mine (Spain). I understand there is a Home Audio Recording Act in the US copyright law (title 17 US Code) that would let you copy a Vinyl in a tape, a provilege for which you paid a few cents as a tax imposed on copying machines and blank tapes. That doesn't allow you to transfer cds to Ipods or vinyls to mp3 or other format shifts. Those are illegal. In fact all digital copying machines must conform t the Serial Copy management Sytem and crcumventing it is a felony. And I doubt fair use exception would apply in your case. It's designed to cover people who need to quote original works for study or analysys. So what you've done is most probably illegal

In my side of the world, we take the Human Rights Acts very seriously, and it says the law must proctect moral and economical rights of the author. They are the only ones that can copy, adapt, communicate publicly, or distribute their work. So, anybody who wants to copy needs a licence from the owner of the content. But the law grants users a special permission to make copies of the originals they acquire legally, only for their own use, and as long as the maker or importer of the copying machines and blank tapes or cds used to make the new copy compensate the opwners of content with a levy imposed on those. So what you've done would be perfectly legal. It's a practical solution, but people do not like it as they are forced to pay the levy on any purchase of cds, even if they are usde for soting family photos. This levy provision is applied also to photocopiers, so youcan legally photocopy parts of a book if you so wish. I must say the the audio copying industry sells 9.000 millon Euros worth of machines and blanks and pay only 100 millions for the levy, so maybe the content owners were not exactly inspired when acceptin the systrem. It started, by the way, in Germany in the sixties, the GEMA vs Grundig case. It works the same all over Europe except in the UK, where private copying is forbidden.

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