Why not donate them to the Salvation Army or a similar organisation who will sell them to finance charity programs?
44 responses Add your response
Legally, in the extremely unlikely event a record company came after you, you'd want to be able to prove you 'owned' the cd.
The downside risk here is negligible, but FWIW, having the cd is good proof you own it. Sales receipts and the like *might* also work.
Morally, the one thing you shouldn't do is make a perfect copy of your cd and then sell it or give it away.
I think it's generally held that you're buying a license to use the music contained on a given cd. If you pass that cd onto somebody else, you're passing on the license.
I'm very much on the side of fair use - and opposed to the draconian record company policies that produced DRM, prosecution of customers, etc. - but selling a cd you're keeping as a digital copy is a classic case of having your cake and keeping it too.'
So, really, you shouldn't even give them away if you've made a perfect copy
Absolutley NOT. This is a criminal act. On one hand sharing somem favorites with a friend is no big deal - but giving away an entire collection worth thousands of dollars and keeping a copy for yourself is a CRIME, it is illegal.
This is just as bad as taking CD's from the public library and copying them at home. It is illegal.
One of the reasons we are in such a huge financial crisis right now has a lot to do with ethics, IMHO!
I am no industry insider but I support our music industry and am against pirate copies.
Is it legal to lend my CD to strangers?
Recently libraries in my state had lawsuit against them for renting books. It claimed that book was intended for one person only and lending them to many people cuts down on sales and author's profit (true). Is it moral to read a book without paying for that? When you listen to CD from library you might eventually buy it to listen many more times, but once you read book you are not likely to read it again soon.
RIAA receives few cents from every CD or CDr sold in US. Recent lawsuit against them for promoting copy protection says that they cannot receive money from copy protected CD and equivalent quantities of CD-R at the same time.
Shadorne, if I ever doubted that I liked your opinions and philosophies before, (which I didn't), I will never doubt again. I applaud you for taking the high road and telling it like it is. Not to be prudish or stuffy, but by day my work brings me face to face with the seedier side of life and all manner of criminals and fraudsters - and frequently with people who prey on the elderly.
At night, I teach a law and ethics class and it is VERY disturbing how many of us (the percentages are documented in numerous surveys) not only justify or rationalize ethical breaches but then think we would be judged as one of the most ethical people our friends!
A way to spot such unethical acts many times IMHO is when we do something that seems innocuous and justify it with any of the following:
1. Everybody's doing it.
2. If I don't do it, someone else will.
3. It doesn't really HURT anyone.
4. That's the way it's always been done
5. The system's unfair.
6. We'll stop when the lawyer's tell us we cannot do it.(think Enron, Sunbeam, Worldcom, Tyco, Fannie Mae and the list goes on)
Just as insidious - just simply label your act by a different name! Spinsters are GREAT at this - you know, Napster called copyright infringement "Peer-to-Peer filing sharing" Enron and Fannie Mae called it "Earnings Management" instead of cooking the books.
Even more dangerous is the slipperly slope or the moving line of ethical boundaries.
Check out a real life story about a famed USC professor and former LA County City Planning Commisioner named George Lefcoe - he tells the story of how one of his constituents, a funeral home that was NOT an applicant while he was at the commission, sent him a ham as a Christmas gift one year. He tried to do the ethical thing (to avoid even an appearance of impropriety or bribery) and return the ham - but nobody at the funeral home was apparently authorized to accept it. The next year he got the ham and gave it to a charity - while this LOOKS innocuous - this is where the slippery slope begins. The next year he gave it to friends, the next year he enjoyed it with family and then finally and by the fifth year he admitted he started to wonder around December 10th where his ham was!! I know this type oc act looks benign but this is how he go further and further that slippery slope. Each step, taken in isolation, looks innocent but by the time you get years out - you have ripped off the company for millions!
Many a CEO and CFO have justified cooking the books - not necessarily for the maximization of their own stock options - but claiming they did it to keep the employees from losing their jobs!! Right. And the justifcation begins.
I apologize for this rant - but I believe our society is getting more and more unethical and greedy (and I am a FIRM believer in the free market system) and we seem to find new and innovative ways to justify that behavior.
Two of the ethical philosophers who have proposed "ethical systems" for resolving ethical dilemmas (considering personal values will differ based on many factors such as culture, religion, upbringing, etc.) suggest asking yourself the following when facing a decision about the proper way to act in a given situation:
1. Would I be alright if my behavior became a universal principal? or
2. How would I act if I entered this situation without knowing what side I was on? (think of two attorneys who are told they must give their repsective "opening statements" in a criminal trial without knowing if they are representing the State or the Defendant!) I bet that opening statement would be VERY fairly presented in a neutral, ethical way. (Yes, I am lawyer and know this is preposterous since a lawyer is acting as an "advocate" but you get the point).
OK, I am done, it's just a subject near and dear to my heart. Lest you think otherwise, yes, I have done things I am not proud of or that I would do differently - but as I get older I keep trying to learn and consider the other person's perspective and the consequences of my actions.
Now that my rant is over, do you have any new music to reccommend? (and yes, I will buy it)!!
Now that you've had your rant on ethics, I'm more convinced then ever that our government is TOTALLY unethical.
So my question is: How should ethicality (is that even a word?) be the responsibilty of the man in the street when our government and big business TOTALLY ignore ethics according to your standards?
Please, don't get religious on me and tell me the meek will inherit the earth......
FWIW, I do agree with your ethic policies, but it is very tough to comply when seeing all of those who are better off than me ignoring the ethics. Is ethics only for the poor?
In my last post, the story about George Lefcoe is a public story published in various ethics textbooks. In my post that paragraph ended as follows:
"I know this type of act looks benign but this is how we[sic] go further and further down that slippery slope. Each step, taken in isolation, looks innocent but by the time you get years out - you have ripped off the company for millions!"
PLEASE DON'T THINK AT THE END OF MY PARAGRAPH THAT I WAS SAYING OR INSINUATING THAT MR. LEFCOE RIPPED OFF ANY COMPANY. HE NEVER DID SUCH A THING. I WAS USING HIS OWN PUBLISHED, NON-CRIMINAL, PUBLIC STORY TO SHOW THAT IF WE ARE NOT CAREFUL, THIS TYPE OF SLIPPERY SLOPE [WHERE WE CROSS OUR OWN ETHICAL LINES] CAN HAPPEN TO ANY OF US AND POSSIBLY LEAD US TO JUSTIFY LATER CRIMINAL ACTS.
Mr. Lefcoe is a well respected professor and I am glad he is kind enough to have shared his story for all of us to learn from.
Jmcgrogan2 According to J Paul Getty, the meek will indeed inherit the earth but not the mineral rights.
Ethics are not only for the poor, who can usually least afford them but for those who seek to be ethical. It is an open invitation to any and all. None are excluded except by thier own self exception.
If one want the world to be a certain way it is often best if one acts as if that is the way it is and accept all that goes with the attempting of making the world an ethical place to live. Good, bad, and indifferent.
Don't even get me started on government ethics (now talk about an oxymoron) or the lack thereof! John, all I can say is that when we lose hope and look at our leaders and and point to their lack of ethics as a reason for us to justify acting unethically (in a self-preservation sort of way), we are all in trouble as, IMHO, chaos and anarchy ensues. This is a sort of moral or ethical relativism where the end justifies the means and we all know what manner of evil has been prepretated using such a theory.
While I am an imperfect person and a realist, at the risk of sounding like I am oversimplfying the answer to your question, I actually DO think that if I just do the next right thing, the rest will take care of itself.
Frank - maybe you, being a layewr, could help me with this: How is it moral and legal to rent and read book from library without paying anything to author or publisher (cutting on their profit). If book wouldn't be available in library more people would buy it in store. Do libraries pay to publishers or authors? Should I feel guilty reading book from the library? The fact that everybody is doing it and for the long time is not important - I am interested how is it legal or moral?
While I do admire you ideology, I do also feel, from what I've seen on my 48 years on this spinning ball, that you are far from a realist.....sorry. The wealthy, big business and our own government have acted unethically for my whole existance, IMHO. I have worked for a large pharmaceutical firm for over 27 years and have watched as the upper executives get free daycare, free products, cars and whatever else, while those on the lower rungs are asked to pay for everything.
One question: If stealing is legal, is it still ethical?
One question: If stealing is legal, is it still ethical?
Conversely, is breaking the law always unethical? Several examples come to mind but my favorite is this. Years ago when I was in the Air Force and would work those odd shifts that ended at 1 a.m. I would drive home an get caught at traffic lights that seemed eternally red. As there were no other cars in site I would pass through. I broke the law but never felt it was unethical.
I am definitely NOT an unadulterated optimist or idealist. However, if I choose to act ethically that doesn't mean I am an idealist. I work as in-house counsel having left private practice because I saw SO much unethical behavior. But if I then use that experience as a justification to act unethically where does it end? I have to live with myself. I will continue to live by ethical standards and hope (but not necessarily expect) that others (certainly not all or even a majority) will respond in a like manner. NO, I am not advocating being a gullible doormat or easy prey for criminals or even people trying to take unfair advantage, just doing the next right thing.
John, I too have witnessed the same disparity you have with many upper level execs. However, if we DO respond with outrage and we DO prosecute high profile execs who act like Dennis Kozlowski, Ken Lay, Bernie Ebbers (and I HOPE we prosecute the likes of Franklin Raines and James Johnson), then we begin to provide the only disincentive and deterrent that such greedy unethical jerks can relate to - the loss of their personal liberty!
Trust me John, I can EASILY get jaded and cynical with all the crime and fraud I see on a daily basis - but responding by becoming what I abhor is not only NOT the answer for me, I couldn't live with myself if I did - and YES, it might make me feel better initially but, since I have a conscience, that initial feeling would eventually be replaced by guilt and regret (and thankfully so since my experience is that the worst criminals have NO conscience).
Your last question is a good one: First, compliance with the LAW should be the MINIMUM standard of behavior - ethics is a higher standard. Stated alternatively, the law prescribes what we MUST do, ethics suggest what we SHOULD do! Thus, MOST of the time, if something is illegal it is necessarily unethical because ethics is a higher standard. However, on certain rarer occasions, JUST because something is LEGAL does not mean that disobeying the law is unethical - think Nazi Germany and apartheid. In these cases, the law allowed horrific behavior so disobeying the law in those cases was actually the ethical thing to do.
John, it does get difficult to continue to live by ethical tenets when you see so many people who do not apparently getting ahead - but I also DO see cases where justice DOES prevail and it does give me a modicum of hope and confirms that doing the next right thing isn't a naive way of life.
Tell me, How do all you supremely ethical people rationalize spending huge sums of money (by the standards of most people in the world) on stereo gear and cds while most people don't get enough to eat?
I would say that being a glutton while people starve is a far more egregious ethical lapse than giving away a copy of a cd that you purchased, wouldn't you?
I can recommend some very ethical and effective charities if you don't know of any.
LOL!! Can you send me a kosher ham? '-) On second thought - send it along with a few hundred CD-Rs of your favorite CDs!!!!!
On your second post, it is not the READING of the copyrighted work that is illegal, it is the unauthorized COPYING of the tangible medium. Then there are what are called "fair-use" exceptions to this rule - such as the right to make a copy of a CD if you already own it (assuming you paid for it originally). PLUS, libraries have paid for the license to have the books (and certain limited copying is permitted under the fair-use doctrine).
There are many more rules and a body of case law interpretting copyright laws and infringement. As such, since I am not an intellectual property attorney, I won't try to advise you much beyond what I teach in my Law & Ethics class as I'd be out of my area of exeprtise.
Thank you - I was mixing fair use with unauthorized copying. I know that RIAA was objecting at one point to making copy for yourself (thief=victim)
I know that copying CD from another person is illegal but at the age of compact cassette and Reel to Reel tape recorders copying was OK (I think) since tape manufacturers paid small fee per foot of the tape to go into fund/pool that was redistributed to artists based on amount of sold records. Now we have as well Music-CD-Rs that probably have similar provision to pay back to artists (a little more expensive than regular CD-Rs).
Everything is getting a little fuzzy since some performers sell only downloads. In addition there is digital radio, HDTV, Ipods etc.
I know that according to RIAA copying your own CD to Ipod is illegal (format change). It might be illegal but is it immoral (I paid for CD)?
RIAA is afraid that once CD gets transfered into unprotected MP4 it will spread to other Ipods. Tracking is also more difficult since there is no physical object (CD) to trace.
Personally, while I do agree that compassion and concern for your fellow man are worthy and admirable goals, your apparent condescension that us "supremely ethical people" are somehow hypocritical or unethical because we are buying stereo gear when others are starving is both disingenuous and misplaced. The very fact that you have posted on this thread means you own or have access to a computer. Could we "supremely ethical people" not repsond by asking why would you have such a decandent luxury when others are starving? See where this goes?
Let's face it, everything beyond food and water in life is a "want" not a "need." Therefore, since the only necessities in life are food and water, I can always say that purchasing ANYTHING beyond those necessities when others are starving is unethical (since they do NOT even have food and water - why should you have a house or electricity?). Do you have a watch, a car (other than say a beat up old Yugo), a TV, a PC, a refrigerator, a stove? Well, if so, others in Darfur or the Sudan or even America don't have those luxuries so, using your standard, you too are also one of us "supremely ethical people". I see how it appears that giving away a CD is somehow less offensive than not helping others who are less fortunate when we are buying expensive gear, but two things come to mind: (1) the guy who cannot afford even buying a CD can now accuse YOU of being unethical because you are buying CDs when he can't eat; and (2) giving away that CD is STILL not your copyrighted material to give away whereas at least the guy who buys expensive gear is only spending HIS money that he has the right to do. Does this make sense?
Being ethical IMHO does not necessarily mean we assume the absolute responsibility for the welfare of others. That said, I do think that charitable giving and care for others is a good thing and something we should aspire to. But singling out people who buy high-end audio as unethical because their money could be better spent in your opinion is a dangerous path to follow. Who then judges who has too much and who is decadent or wasteful? Yes, I DO see how looking at people who, in our opinion, waste sinful amounts of money when other are starving appears so imcompassionate. However, I don't think "unethical" is necessarily the adjective I'd use to describe them.
Even in a communist society, it is the governement that disributes the wealth and assumes the "responsibility" for the welfare of the masses.
Just my $.02 and, as always subject to opposing views and scrutiny.
It is a nice point but the truth of the matter, at least where food is concerned, is that there is absolutely no lack of food for anyone in this world. What we see is a lack of political will or resources, used to getting food from where it is grown to where it is needed. We have actually, as a world had plenty of food for the last 20 or 30 years. Political greed, monetary greed, lack of infrastructure have lead to famine, starvation, and privation but not a lack food. So being a glutton is fine because there is no lack only a very poor distribution system and some political inability to want people to be fed.
Poverty is a really bad thing and people shouldn't do it!
Seriously - I know (I hope) when I'm committing illegal act like unauthorized copying of CD or driving 56mpg in 55mpg zone but we have to remember that we are buying from the crooks who in collude are setting very high prices of CDs. Free competition is a joke. I remember investigation started by one of TV channels on the price of the cornflakes. And then suddenly there was complete silence. Was TV station paid or threaten? One should be as honest as possible and if not - should be at least true to himself and admit it but on the other hand we live between crooks of such scale that all our wrongdoings are pretty much like driving 56mpg in 55mpg zone.
Did you notice that SACDs (impossible to copy) are in order of $30 while manufacturing cost the same as regular CD. Should music be only privilege of some but not all people. I know that we need only water and food to live (everything else is want) but I don't consider it living.
Well I didn't think I would start a big discussion but I do appreciate the concerns everyone is showing. I suspect that in our modern society the problem has something to do with our fundamental values and the ease with which you can get away with something in a big city where you don't deal with the same people everyday, as you would in a small town.
Today money equates to self esteem much more than the pride of doing the right thing or behaving honorably. Advertisers constantly emphasize and brainwash us that what we buy is what defines us - perfume, watch, whisky, car, cellphone.
The pro sports player seems to feel quite justified if he/she gets away with a dirty tactic and wins. The fans may even cheer a dirty shot. Although not new there is something unsettling about this swing in modern behavior. In the past playing like a sportsman was so highly regarded nobody dared cheat if there was ever the slightest chance of getting caught. Now there is so much emphasis about winning that even our kids feel the pressure - and they are on the slippery slope at a very young age playing their video games where you can shoot people and there are no consequences (and you can find cheats online to each game). From Nancy Kerrigan being attacked in 1994 with a bar to steroid doping in many major sports it points to an "ends justify the means" mentality (as we no longer value the means) It is ok to cheat if you win! If a Hockey Dad needs to abuse the referee then that is what it sometimes takes to win!
However, there is hope with some fine people showing us the way !
Yes my tone was sarcastic. Yes, I own a computer, stereo, cds, tv, etc. and I am as unethical as the next guy. It's just that with all the terrible injustices in this country and the world, I find it very hard to get worked up about giving away cds.
To me, for one example, hard drug dealers are thousands of orders of magnitude worse than people who give away copies of cds. When the drug dealers are all dead or in prison, and all the stealing, robbing, killing, violence, fear, poverty, human exploitation and moral degradation they cause has subsided, then I will consider shedding some tears for the Rock stars and record companies.
Next, yes there is enough food in the world to feed everyone and how to get it to the people who need it without destroying the local economy and making people dependent on charity is a serious problem. But there are charities that work on this problem ethically and effectively.
I don't consider myself to be a highly ethical person or a role model for anyone. I am as flaweded as anyone on this list. I just thought I'd try to put the problem under discussion into some perspective and maybe redirect some of that moral indignation toward more serious injustices.
Ethical relativism is still equivocating(sp?). Ethical behavior tries to avoid such things, such as saying well this is much worse. Do we all do things that are less than examplary, probably to some extent. It is the willingness not to that moves the bar towards a better world, not the thought that these scoundrals, thieves and worse are much, far more, worse than me.
Not claiming any ethical high ground just postulating a view that perhaps one can move towards, including me.
Uru975 - Agree. Nothing can excuse unethical behavior but if not for people copying and downloading - CDs would be over $30 (monopoly+demand) and many people wouldn't be able to afford them. This is more to even the field and in this particular case I believe that victim fully deserves it and had it coming.
A couple of responses to a couple of points made.
On the argument that there are more serious problems in the world, so let's not get too worked up about a few cds - agreed, within limits.
To me, the limit is obvious: I either can't or won't do anything about some big moral issues. That doesn't excuse me from small moral issues that come along.
As to why a library can lend out a book or cd: only one person at a time has use of the item, assuming he doesn't make a copy.
The general ethical rule, I think, is - if you're not creating a copy for another party's use, you're ok.
So if I buy a cd and loan it to a friend, I'm fine. If I make a copy first for my own use, I'm not.
Can this get to absurd tiny slices fast? Yep. But just because it can get silly, it doesn't mean you can treat the larger question as unimportant - especially if you're deeply committed to music and musicians.
Finally, a comment: I'm no lawyer, but in my view the act we're talking about here is *not* stealing.
It's more in the realm of violating a civil contract between you and the record company, and should be settled without the moral panic the record companies attach to this issue.
In my opinion, this has never *really* been about casual copying. I believe the record companies' real point was to use the moral panic to impose air-tight use restrictions, so that you had to pay a fee to listen to the item at home, another one to listen in your car, a third for use on your iPod, etc.
If you think this is silly, consider what's going on in the motion picture industry, where you now get 'free' copies of the movie - along with the dvd - to play on your portable player. In fact, the newly reissued dvds with the digital copies are slightly more expensive than the copies they replace.
So to bring it all back around - the reason to not sell the cds you've made copies of is to be ethically ok yourself, and not because you like/respect/have sympathy for the majority of the audio industry.
Scott - Even if only one person reads book from library it lowers the sales - without libraries people would buy more books. Frank explained to me that library has permission and pays fee to do it.
People who rent books from library often engage in despicable act of illegal copying pages from the book for their own use (ha ha).
I'm happy you mentioned DVDs. I don't know how much it is right now for new releases, but let say it is $20 but in places like China is $2. It is still profitable, otherwise they wouldn't do it. So they charge us at least 900% higher price or make 900% profit on us. It is only possible when companies are colluding. Further proof of this is zoning code to prevent anybody from China to ship and sell back multi-language DVDs in US. They forced this code (bribing our government) on DVD player makers and most of DVD players in US won't play DVDs from another region. I cannot thing of another reason for this zone code than price fixing. If this is not a proof of their illegal activity (colluding) I don't know what is. And in view of all us being cheated copying DVD for private use is a crime and immoral act?
"Scott - Even if only one person reads book from library it lowers the sales - without libraries people would buy more books. Frank explained to me that library has permission and pays fee to do it."
Even though it seems like common sense, I'm not sure.
For the people who go to the library because they can't afford to buy books, the above is trivially untrue. They won't buy if the price is other than free.
At the other end, people who deeply love reading and books and who do have money are likely not buying fewer books because of the library. It seems to me they might buy different, (ie - what the library doesn't have) and *more,* because whatever they get from the library spurs their interest in acquiring more.
The only class of readers who might buy fewer books would be casual readers who want the new, hot novel and, once they've read it, are done for the time being.
It's the reason I tend not to worry about, or feel guilty about, making mix cds for friends.
If they don't know an artist, there's no way for it to be a lost sale. Even though a mix cd given to a friend clearly violates copyright, it's all upside for the record companies - because potential customers are being created.
Great discussion. I am persuaded that I should box up the ripped CDs and hang onto them -- for forever, I suppose.
I now regret ripping a CD a friend loaned me recently, so I went looking for it online. Appears to be out of print, but I found a bunch of them from Amazon affiliated sellers. When a CD is out of print, I will often buy it used on Amazon. But this time, I bought the one that was identified as "New," because this discussion makes me wonder to what extent I'm being complicit in unethical behavior when I buy a used CD. Depends: some used CDs are ones people no longer wanted. But, increasingly, they will be ones that someone ripped a copy of and then sold.
Drubin - very often used CDs sold by Amazon parties are brand new sometimes with hole punched thru paper booklet or backcover - sometimes even thru plastic of the box (can anybody explain why?). I got that way brand new CDs for a fraction of a price. Try also tower.com - stores went bankrupt but on-line business was sold to somebody and still exists. Their prices are often better then Amazon and delivery is great (free over $20).
But this time, I bought the one that was identified as "New," because this discussion makes me wonder to what extent I'm being complicit in unethical behavior when I buy a used CD.
There is a difference though. If you own the original media (even bought second hand) then you have not broken the law. In this case, it is the person who has ripped it (kept a copy) and then sold the original that is breaking the law. I agree there is a concern that you might be complicit but it is hard to be certain. Many of the used or hard to find CD dealers on Amazon sell thousands of CD's a month - to me they look bonafide sellers (like used books) but like you I never checked - great question!
What a fascinating discourse!
To comment on the original question; I keep all my ripped CD's simply because I don't yet have confidence that my computer or backup drive wont fail one day, requiring me to re-rip some or all of my music.
I must admit that I have ripped CD's borrowed from friends (not many), and whilst it is probably poor rationalization, the truth is they are CD's I would NOT have bought myself anyway, so I'm not actually robbing the artist at all. I may even be helping the artist, because if I decide I like the artist, I may begin buying their other CD's and telling friends about them, which I wouldn't have done without the "free sample" as it were.
"I must admit that I have ripped CD's borrowed from friends (not many), and whilst it is probably poor rationalization, the truth is they are CD's I would NOT have bought myself anyway, so I'm not actually robbing the artist at all. I may even be helping the artist, because if I decide I like the artist, I may begin buying their other CD's and telling friends about them, which I wouldn't have done without the "free sample" as it were."
This is why it's best to keep the moral panic down to a dull roar, and to view what you do as a civil dispute, not a crime.
You're obviously violating copyright. It's far less obvious that you're doing any harm, and may - in fact - be helping the record company, especially if you're a heavy consumer of music.