Why some downloaded mp3s are legal

Ptaak: You already know that any mp3 that you rip yourself from your own CD collection is legal. What you may not know is that some or all of the mp3s that you download are also legal, if you paid for the music in any other form.

If you are past the age of 25, then the material presented on this page is likely to be applicable to your collection.

Note: it has been brought to my attention that this page contains information that may not apply outside of the USA. U.S. courts have set legal precedent that makes this information correct in the United States, but if you live in the U.K.,Canada, Austrailia, or other countries, a similar precedent may not exist. U.S. law states that you have the legal right to make a backup copy of copyrighted material that you have bought usage rights to, and U.S. law only requires you to keep purchase receipts for 5 years for tax, accounting, and accountability purposes. These laws likely are different for other countries.

As you will see on this page, [FekLar] can prove that he has paid $$$ to the record companies for his mp3 collection, and possesses the legal right to own it. The same is also likely true for many of you, but there are also many others who use mp3s to pirate music. [FekLar] does not approve of this, and suggests that out of common sense if nothing else, that leeches, especially the younger ones, should make at least some attempt to buy some of the music or at least visit the band's web page and buy some T-shirts or posters. The self-serving logic is obvious: If bands don't make any money, they will disband, and you are screwed, because the next awesome song from that artist that you've been waiting for will never come. It can easily get to the point where there's more money to be made in writing and performing TV commercial and movie soundtracks...


If by some freak chance the record company ever comes after you for hoarding your store of MP3 TuneZ, do what I would do: countersue them and their distribution network for antitrust violations, and for knowingly selling defective and substandard merchandise.

It has been brought repeatedly to the attention of those people that their distribution system is outdated and bloated, costing consumers three to four times as much for music than they would pay on a non-monopolized free market.

You should be able to go down to the record store, select up to 650 megs (160 TuneZ) of MP3s, pay 30 cents per song, plus a $5 CD burn fee, and have them burn your CD right there at the record store. All the extra cost you are expected to pay now is for inefficiency in the music distribution system, and they know it.

State that even though you knew the price would be somewhere around you were merely waiting until the exact price per tune had been set. We all believe the musicians should be paid, because we are not stupid and dense enough to believe that they will continue to produce great music for us if they will make no profit, but you will not contribute to the waste and fraud of an illegally monopolistic industry.

Then there's the fact the record companies knowingly sell defective merchandise, when there are better, cheaper alternatives. Audio CD-ROMs become scratched and unusable, because unlike a digital CD, there is no ECC error correction data on the disc.

Cassette tapes wear out, and the little piece of foam that holds the tape to the head eventually falls off, rendering the tape unusable. Tape also has a nasty habit of spooling off the little reels and screwing up your tape deck, forcing you to shell $100 or $200 on a replacement deck because it doesn't make sense to spend $100 or $150 to repair the old one.

The record companies and their record store affiliates have known about the defective state of their merchandise for at least 20 years. Compare a 20 year old TDK SA brand audio tape with a standard record store audio label cassette. The TDK tape has nearly friction-free tape backing, superior oxide formulation, head and capstan cleaning leader, and is held together with screws. Until about 3 or 4 years ago, The label cassette did not. Currently though, it is still glued together, and does not possess low friction tape backing or head cleaning leaders. This is a conscious choice that was made. I have never had a problem of any kind with a TDK tape.

I have not been pleased with the fact that over the years, I have had over $500 worth of home and automotive tape decks destroyed when the little piece of foam detaches from the cassette, and goes down into the tape drive mechanism and screws something up, or the tape winds around the spindle and then breaks in such a way it is impossible to fix the deck without taking it into a shop for repair. I have lost two decent home decks and three decent car stereos that way. I would have lost another 5 or 6 decks that way, but over the last few years I have learned to take the things apart and repair them myself. Still, that's another $500 - $600 for my labor.

Of course, I threw the first destroyed decks away, and the others have also passed on due to various reasons, and so there is no evidence. On the other hand, I can easily go down to any Goodwill or the Salvation Army Thrift Store anywhere, and buy as many destroyed decks as I want for $2 each, and disassemble them easily enough so as to show the true cause and nature of their deaths. I can also produce a hundred witnesses to the states and values of my various past stereo systems, which were truly impressive at times.

I say the record companies owe me at least 100 audio CD-ROMs to replace that $1100 loss directly incurred as a result of their knowingly selling their defective merchandise.

After learning of the existence of MP3s and starting to build up my hoard, I started saving cassette tapes that lost their little foam piece. Over the span of one year, I have collected 6 out of my total collection of 150.

The digital MP3 (or other compressed format) CD-ROM is far superior to cassettes and audio CDs, because the medium lasts much longer and is much more reliable because it incorporates ECC.

And make no mistake: when you make a purchase at the record store or through Colombia House, you are paying for the legal right to listen to the music any time you feel like listening to it. The quality of the medium that carries the music has nothing to do with this. The record companies complain that mp3's are CD quality, and you only bought vinyl or cassette tape, but this is irrelevant. When you buy music, you pay two distinct and separable costs, one for the medium, and one for the rights. And if you read [FekLar]'s MP3 Clipping Tutorial, and downloaded some mp3s from IRC, then it should be obvious by now that the majority of available mp3s are not CD quality.

Now the law says that it is not illegal to make backup copies for your own use. Over the years, I have had to replace the same album or cassette or CD multiple times, because a record got scratched, a cassette tape broke or wore out, because someone stole my tapes, etc...

I think I bought "Wings Greatest Hits" alone, in different forms, 6 times over the last 20 years. I bought my Beatles, Elton John, Uriah Heep, Aerosmith, Foreigner, etc... collections at least three times. I could list many more bands, but the sheer size of the list would probably crash Internet Explorer when it tried to load this page. I was buying music when the Beatles, The Jackson Five and The Osmonds were still together.

Once I screwed up and left two full cases of tapes on the rear dashboard of my car, and all 50 tapes melted. Once, two full milk carton crate sized boxes of my vinyl albums were stolen, about 250 or so all totaled. Once, in the process of moving to a new house, a box fell out of the truck that contained two full spindles of rare 45's. I must have had at least 100 8-track tapes break on me, as they were highly prone to do. None of these events changed the fact that I had bought the legal right to listen to that music anytime I felt like listening to it.

So, I bought the right to play that music anytime I wanted to, but after that happened, where did it leave me? I paid for the rights to it, but when the medium was damaged, was defective, or was lost some other way, where did that leave me? It left me still owning the legal right to listen to that music, and to own a copy of it.

Although I could produce a hundred witnesses to the immense size of my past 45, LP, cassette, and 8-track collections, if the record companies want proof that I bought that music, given the record store's known non-existent defective merchandise return policies, it is their responsibility to have created and maintained a registry of their customer's purchases. This wouldn't be a bad practice to start, assigning a user ID and ID card to anyone who doesn't have one whenever they purchase music, or requiring that the ID be used if the user already possess one. No one would forge ID's, because that would be self-defeating.

Try taking a worn or defective cassette back to a record store sometime, if you wonder why people don't keep sales receipts for music purchases. Unless its within 30 days, the record store will laugh in your face. The quality of the media is irrelevant. What IS relevant is that you paid for the legal right to own a copy of the music. A lot of the corporate opposition to mp3s is due to the record companies being pissed off that they are losing the capability to force you to buy the same defective merchandise over and over again.

My offering files to others for backup purposes is not illegal. The real illegal activity is the record companies' attempting to force people to buy the same defective merchandise over and over again.

Now if someone downloads files from my collection that they have not paid for the rights to, that is their illegal activity, NOT mine, and if the record companies want to try to force the law to back them up, then they can do it legally, and investigate the downloader. They would much prefer to sucker the government into helping them conduct their illegal trade practices.

I have never been bothered or threatened by the law or the record companies. Among other reasons, (my being Athena's old man for one) I suspect that the fact that I attach this page to my file list has something to do with it. The facts don't lie.

At any rate, because of non-existant defective media return policies, neither myself or anyone else has ever saved receipts. However, if one uses the statistics for the average music buyer's or musician's annual music purchases in determining the amount of music that I as a listener (and of statistical significance, that I as a rock musician) should logically be expected to possess, then the size of the puny store of tuneZ that are currently in my hoard needs to grow to about 20 or 30 times its present size.

The average music listener buys an average of 3 or 4 CDs per year. The average avid music listener, someone who devotes a fair amount of time to the pursuit of music, usually buys from 1 to 2 CDs per month, The average musician buys from 3 to 4 CDs per month.

If I get onto IRC and download mp3's of music that in the past I have paid for the right to possess, then I am only making the legal backup copies that I should have been making over the years. If it ever came to a courtroom, it can be proven that I am only making the backup copies that the law says I have the right to make, because the facts, witnesses, and statistics can easily be produced to prove that I did in fact pay for this music.

And if by some freak chance some tuneZ make it into my collection that I had never purchased in the past, I say that if their number ever rose to 1100 tuneZ, then it will make up for the $1100 that defective cassette tapes have cost me in lost audio equipment and labor, without having to go through the expense of suing the record companies to regain that loss, and me and the record companies will be even.