With so many people already ripping thousands of CDs, it seems a little late to be wondering whether this activity is legal. When you rip a cd, you take an audio track from a cd and convert it into an audio format that can be stored on your computer. After defining this action, it would seem that lots of recording artists are missing out on lots of opportunities to collect royalties. If this is the case, how can cd ripping be legal?
Understanding what is allowed
When it comes to the law and how it pertains to the act of ripping a cd, itís much easier to list the types of activities that are not considered illegal. There are 2 main scenarios under which it is legal to rip a cd.
Once a person has purchased a cd, that person is allowed to rip that cd into mp3 format. It is also legal for that mp3 to then be stored on that personís personal computer. That person is legally entitled to play any ripped mp3 file created off a purchased cd as long it is being played for personal use. The logic in this scenario is that the artist already received royalties when the person purchased the cd before ripping it.
The second scenario under which it is legal to rip a cd occurs when the artist creates an mp3 file and then allows others to freely and legally access that file. Those taking advantage of the artistís offer are also entitled to forward the mp3 to their acquaintances if they so desire. With a little searching, it isnít hard to find web sites that are devoted to collecting such artist-released mp3 files.
The reality of cd rips
The truth of the matter is that most people are honest and the majority of music lovers are only going to rip a cd that they already own. They wonít try to make money off these endeavors; theyíd rather just have their favorite music in mp3 format so that itís much easier to carry around.
The small percentages of individuals who rip cds illegally are going to do so whether or not laws are in place. However, their actions likely arenít going to force the recording industry into bankruptcy. This didnít happen a decade ago when newly released movies were being illegally copied and distributed on the black market and it isnít likely going to happen with the music industry, either.
Nonetheless, the recording industry is more focused on the principles involved, and rightly so. Industry representatives already have countless dollars and hours tied up in litigation without any clear indication of victory. Taking a different approach, the industry has begun looking for ways to create mp3 files that have built-in copyright protection. The WMA (Windows Media) format is one such attempt and its use is growing within the industry.
The best advice
If you want to rip a cd, just be part of the group that does so ďlegallyĒ and enjoy your music!
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