Digital Audio World

Musings and information on podcasting, digital audio, online streaming audio and home studio recording from Tim 'Gonzo' Gordon of

Monday, August 14, 2006

Kids Say: It's Okay to Copy CDs

Years of anti-downloading campaigning and lawsuit ball-busting by the RIAA have worked to decrease illegal downloads from the free-for-all from a few years ago. It doesn't hurt that there are now thousands of free legal MP3s available as well - and that iTunes is such a damn success.

But there's still one area where the RIAA isn't making much hay: CD copying.

A new study by the LA Times and Bloomberg indicates that teens still think CD copying is okay. It's sort of a time-honored tradition: make a copy of a song you like so your buddy will dig it, too.

The story in the LA Times looked at the legalities of CD copying by talking to a copyright expert from DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary: "A strict interpretation of the law says that if making a copy robs the marketplace of a sale, it is prohibited," said attorney Mark Radcliffe.

There's a big operative word in that sentence: "IF."

What IF you make a copy of a CD that you never had any intention of buying? Or a movie? Does that 'rob the marketplace' of a sale? I can think of dozens of movies or CD's that I wouldn't mind having in my collection but would never put on my "MUST BUY" list. Sorry, but I have groceries to buy and mortgage payments to make. So if the act of making a copy doesn't really rob the marketplace because you never would have bought the damn thing in the first place make the copy illegal?

Besides, what seems to be missing in all of this copyright hullaballo is the observation that passing music along on a viral path can actually lead to more sales?

Back in the late 70s and early 80s some record companies used to put a little icon of a cassette with a skull and crossbones above it with the warning "Home Taping Is Killing The Music Industry."

Funny thing, though. About that time the government came out with a study that said home taping actually encouraged sales! Seems that if you catch wind of a new artist or song from a tape that a friend gave you, and you like it enough you'll actually go out and BUY it. Which enlarges the fan base, and gives the artist more folks in the long run who will buy their new release - and dig through their catalog for gems they don't have in their collection.

It's interesting that kids think that CD copying is generally OK and not illegal.

But what's more interesting to me is that in the long run it is part of the viral marketing that grows fan bases and brings more people to concerts and back catalogs.

Also: this opinion piece from Peter Martin of Australia.


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