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View Full Version : Ethical question - stolen CDs & backups......



SadGamerGeek
2006-10-24, 01:44
I'm half way through a re-rip of all (about 550) my CDs to FLAC. I'm planning on also keeping a backup of them at another location (probably work) in case of theft/fire etc.

At the moment, I've paid a bit more on my house insurance to ensure that all my CDs are covered. I've just thought that there's no need to do that anymore though. If my CDs get stolen it won't be the end of the world as my FLACs would be backups (shame about all the artwork etc...) and I never play the physical disks since having squeezeboxes anyway.

Anyway...... What would be the ethics (and indeed legal position) of me continuing to use all my music from the FLAC files when I no longer owned the original CDs due to theft?

Discuss.......

MatsLarsson
2006-10-24, 01:51
As far as ethics are concerned - stealing someone's CD's is a rather unethical thing to do! If someone stole my CD's, I would still consider myself the legal owner, and happily play my backup copies in whatever form I have them. The record industry have a different view, but frankly I couldn't care less. /Mats

ceejay
2006-10-24, 01:56
What an interesting question.

My take on it is that if something is stolen from you, you are still its legal owner! Consider the case where the thief takes the CDs to the local market and sells them. The buyer of those CDs has no reason to suspect that they are stolen, pays a fair price for them ... and yet if, by some miracle of police work, those CDs are later identified as being yours then you are fully entitled to have them back and the buyer has no rights at all.

So they are yours. So you can certainly carry on playing the FLAC images.

Now, if we ever get to the point where the RIAA police start calling on us and asking us to show our CDs as proof of ownership, you might have a problem. However I think that's far enough away at the moment that I wouldn't worry about that one.

Ceejay

adamslim
2006-10-24, 02:05
I'm half way through a re-rip of all (about 550) my CDs to FLAC. I'm planning on also keeping a backup of them at another location (probably work) in case of theft/fire etc.

At the moment, I've paid a bit more on my house insurance to ensure that all my CDs are covered. I've just thought that there's no need to do that anymore though. If my CDs get stolen it won't be the end of the world as my FLACs would be backups (shame about all the artwork etc...) and I never play the physical disks since having squeezeboxes anyway.

Anyway...... What would be the ethics (and indeed legal position) of me continuing to use all my music from the FLAC files when I no longer owned the original CDs due to theft?

Discuss.......

That's an interesting one. At first sight, it is clear: if you 'got rid' of the CDs, you would have 'got rid' of the right to play them. Thus if you sell them, you lose the right to play the music.

However, insurance claims may be more complicated than that. Insurance covers the replacement cost of material products; the intangible copyright usage is not something that you could insure. So the process could be:

- You own CDs and have the ripped files: no problem (but see below)

- Your CDs are pinched: you still own the right to play the files; the thief does not acquire this right, just as he does not own the physical CDs

- Your insurance pays up for your replacement physical CDs, but you don't buy them as you don't need them.

The controversial issues:

- Does the insurance claim cover the CD replacement or is it an overall payment for your loss? If they give you a lump sum, loss-adjusted of course, you could argue the latter, in which case you never lost the right to play the files. So you're fine.

- If they pay you for the CDs (i.e. the former, above), are you committing insurance fraud by claiming for something (i.e. the music) that you have not really lost?

- Do you have the right to rip files anyway? The music rights you acquire on a CD are for this CD, not for the music itself. Otherwise, you might have the right to a new medium when this one is scratched, or when a new format comes out. Not likely!

This links to one of my pet issues: if a CD gets damaged, do I really have to buy it again? Am I buying the medium or the music? I've answered it above, but I don't like it! Buying a CD gets you the CD itself, and the licence to play the music on it; if the former breaks, you implicitly lose the latter. Is this wrong?

Anyway I think your issue is potentially one of insurance fraud rather than copyright theft; plus the legality of ripping at all...

Adam

roamingstudio
2006-10-24, 02:49
Just a thought - always keep your crime # and all documentation to prove the CD's were stolen. RIAA would not have much of a leg then as you can prove you were the rightful owner- and still are- even though through no fault of your own (except open doors) you no longer possess them physically.

I long since removed my CD's from the plastic case and used the 'cd sleeves' - takes up less bulk and removes the attraction of resell. Anyone on a market with just a CD and no covers / case would attract a certain amount of attention.

I had a similar problem with a load of software CD's which were knicked. I had installed the software; and they were just in case of backups. The police basically advised that as long as I can install the software with the same licence number then it is not a problem. Although this was somewhat 'unofficial'. Fortunately I had kept a paper copy of all my CD-keys etc.

peterbell
2006-10-24, 10:40
The other point to consider is that if the value of your CDs is not included in the value of contents for which you pay insurance premiums, and the loss adjuster becomes aware that you had CDs, the insurance company may decide that you were under-insured to the value of the CDs and adjust the total of any payout against the items for which you claim.

SadGamerGeek
2006-10-24, 15:26
The other point to consider is that if the value of your CDs is not included in the value of contents for which you pay insurance premiums, and the loss adjuster becomes aware that you had CDs, the insurance company may decide that you were under-insured to the value of the CDs and adjust the total of any payout against the items for which you claim.

Good point - I hadn't considered that......

smc2911
2006-10-24, 15:33
This links to one of my pet issues: if a CD gets damaged, do I really have to buy it again? Am I buying the medium or the music? I've answered it above, but I don't like it! Buying a CD gets you the CD itself, and the licence to play the music on it; if the former breaks, you implicitly lose the latter. Is this wrong?
Taking this reasoning further: if you rip your CD (assuming for the moment you live somewhere where this is ok!) and then your CD was scratched, ruining one track, would this mean that unless you bought a new copy of the CD you's have to delete your rip of that track? And then what if your CD player can't play the track, but EAC can rip it? Probably a bit silly, but discussions about copyright tend to get that way since the laws are really pre-digital in their design.

Jon
2006-10-24, 17:03
Personally, even with a backup, I am paranoid enough to want to keep a copy of the original media for dire emergencies ... I've invested too many years building up my CD collection to take the risk of losing it all.

And, having just had my 6-month old 400GB backup disk die on me (good thing it had a 5-year warranty!), I am proof of the fact that media does fail. I spent several very nervous days waiting for the replacement to arrive, thinking about all the labor that went into ripping my CDs being for naught if my primary drive decided to die before the replacement arrived.

Not to mention, who knows what format you might want your music in 20 years from now ... and whether there will be a transcoder from FLAC to that format ... low odds of this being a problem, I know, but the odds are not zero ...

Personally, I'd pay the extra insurance, just for the peace of mind.

tommypeters
2006-10-24, 23:41
What an interesting question.

My take on it is that if something is stolen from you, you are still its legal owner! Consider the case where the thief takes the CDs to the local market and sells them. The buyer of those CDs has no reason to suspect that they are stolen, pays a fair price for them ... and yet if, by some miracle of police work, those CDs are later identified as being yours then you are fully entitled to have them back and the buyer has no rights at all.
...and in many countries it's the total opposite...

mav
2006-10-25, 00:37
The other point to consider is that if the value of your CDs is not included in the value of contents for which you pay insurance premiums, and the loss adjuster becomes aware that you had CDs, the insurance company may decide that you were under-insured to the value of the CDs and adjust the total of any payout against the items for which you claim.

I had just this experience earlier this year, when we were burgled - no cd's were taken, but when the loss adjuster came round to do his "bit", he spotted my cd collection, and sucked on his teeth before totting up the value.

I hadn't even thought of these when assessing the value of my home contents, but they in fact caused me to be under insured (by about 5%, but the adjuster was obviously feeling kind, so didn't adjust the claim, provididng I agreed to up my insurance straight away).

mav

Heuer
2006-10-25, 02:32
Once the Insurance Company pays you for your loss of the CD's the missing goods become the property of said company. If they were to be recovered you would not be entitled to have them back without purchasing them off the Insurance Company at whatever value they put on them. So the rights to listen to the music is vested in the Insurance Company and you have no legal rights to the ripped copies.

Seineseeker
2006-10-25, 05:37
I think ethics is an interesting point. I don't think its ethical for the industry to include DRM on downloads! Plus they aren't giving me a free digital copy of all the vinyl I have, they expect me to buy it again, although I could argue I already have the right to it. Not to mention the price of music is far too high! All said and done, I've put a lot of money into the record industry so I don't worry about things. In fact I thought maybe I should sell all my CDs and buy some different ones, everyone would win, me and the record industry which would receive another tranche of money from me!

Rant over!

adamslim
2006-10-25, 06:37
I don't think its ethical for the industry to include DRM on downloads!

Well I imagine that puts you in a pretty small minority ;)

dullard
2006-10-25, 19:47
And, having just had my 6-month old 400GB backup disk die on me (good thing it had a 5-year warranty!), I am proof of the fact that media does fail.

That's why God gave us RAID-5 :)

Skunk
2006-10-25, 20:58
In fact I thought maybe I should sell all my CDs and buy some different ones, everyone would win, me and the record industry which would receive another tranche of money from me!

Yes but they're losing out on the money the person who bought your used cd would have spent.

I will admit to having given away two of my favorite and rare discs after ripping them, and I honestly still feel guilty about it!

peejay
2006-10-26, 04:15
From what I've read in the posts, all of which made perfect sense, and from what I personally believe, the contract of physical music purchase of a CD (or DVD or any recorded work on a digital medium) exists with you and your possession of the physical goods and any receipt of purchase. Any copy you make is subject to copyright laws applicable to your region (Law). If you have purchased something, it's yours(Law). If you copied something and then had the original stolen and it was insured, then once you replace that purchase, through again a lawful purchase, it's yours again(Law), and the copy is subject to the same copyright laws as before(Law), except that now it's a copy of what you had previously purchased, not what you now own again....That's getting sticky - any lawyer want to step in here, go ahead, but I'd suggest that you shouldn't have that copy in your possession(Ethics).
If you copy it and then sell it or give it away, you're a thief(Law).
So, ethics really don't come into it very much, it's just a matter of intrinsically knowing when you have the right to something and when you don't, and generally the law, through precedent or process, is pretty clear on that.

adamslim
2006-10-26, 05:09
So, ethics really don't come into it very much, it's just a matter of intrinsically knowing when you have the right to something and when you don't, and generally the law, through precedent or process, is pretty clear on that.

I still think there's a twist, and it's in the insurance bit. I think that insurance compensates you for a loss; it does not oblige you to repurchase a product. Your car gets pinched, and you decide that a car is more hassle than it's worth - a UK-only perspective ;) - the insurance company still has to cough up.

In the case of CDs, you have had a loss of the physical CDs, but you have not lost the right to play them. How you (and the loss adjuster) value that loss is a matter between you and the insurance company. Hence my earlier post stating that this might be an insurance fraud issue.

There is an ethical issue too - should you rebuy? I say no - buy lots of new CDs and spend the balance on a Transporter :)

Jon
2006-10-26, 06:55
That's why God gave us RAID-5 :)
RAID-5 does not protect you from operating system errors or human errors. And the odds of two disks within a single RAID array breaking within a few days of each other, while very low, are not zero. RAID-5 is just one more tool in the fight to keep your data highly available.

I backup my data to a USB-attached hard drive, which I only attach when I am making backups, to reduce the chances that both my primary and backup drives will both be affected by the same event. When my backup drive failed, since I don't have RAID (yet), I was exposed.

I won't personally feel completely safe about my backups until I have the means to back up my data to tape or optical media (in addition to backups to a second hard disk) ... maybe Blu-Ray will be my savior, once the prices come down :-)

Jon
2006-10-26, 07:07
I think someone should pose this question to "The Ethicist" (Randy Cohen) at the New York Times ( ethicist@nytimes.com ) ... who knows, it might make it into their Sunday Magazine ...

peter
2006-11-08, 06:32
On Thu, 26 Oct 2006 06:55:41 -0700, "Jon"
<Jon.2gafxz1161871202 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> said:
>
> dullard;149785 Wrote:
> > That's why God gave us RAID-5 :)
> RAID-5 does not protect you from operating system errors or human
> errors. And the odds of two disks within a single RAID array breaking
> within a few days of each other, while very low, are not zero. RAID-5
> is just one more tool in the fight to keep your data highly available.

A burglar might be inclined to take your whole array with him.

> I backup my data to a USB-attached hard drive, which I only attach when
> I am making backups, to reduce the chances that both my primary and
> backup drives will both be affected by the same event. When my backup
> drive failed, since I don't have RAID (yet), I was exposed.
>
> I won't personally feel completely safe about my backups until I have
> the means to back up my data to tape or optical media (in addition to
> backups to a second hard disk) ... maybe Blu-Ray will be my savior,
> once the prices come down :-)

A fire might destroy your array *and* your optical/disk/tape backups (as
well as the original CD's).

I've come to the conclusion that the only really good way to backup
things is to store them offsite incrementally and automatically.

I got myself a colo box ($20/mo) together with a mate on which I archive
daily snapshots of my music files, office documents and (most
importantly) digital pictures.

It's just too big a risk to take now that more and more of our assets
are becoming digital.

Regards,
Peter

Jon
2006-11-08, 06:50
A fire might destroy your array *and* your optical/disk/tape backups (as well as the original CD's).
An excellent point, and frankly one that I had not considered.


I've come to the conclusion that the only really good way to backup things is to store them offsite incrementally and automatically.
That is, of course, the ideal approach. A less expensive (albeit less reliable) approach might be to invest in a fireproof safe.

At a minimum, your comment has inspired me to print off a list of my entire collection and place it in my safe deposit box, to make replacing my CDs in the event of a catastrophe easier.

SadGamerGeek
2006-11-08, 06:52
A fire might destroy your array *and* your optical/disk/tape backups (as
well as the original CD's).

I've come to the conclusion that the only really good way to backup
things is to store them offsite incrementally and automatically.

I got myself a colo box ($20/mo) together with a mate on which I archive
daily snapshots of my music files, office documents and (most
importantly) digital pictures.

It's just too big a risk to take now that more and more of our assets
are becoming digital.

Regards,
Peter


I've been thinking something similar, but I'm a bit put-off by the cost. I've contemplated a simple set-up, where I have an agreement with a friend (who lives a considerable distance from me), where we both set ourselved up so that I incrementaly backup to a dedicated drive in his home, and vice-versa. I've not given a lot of thought to the logistics of this yet, but I wouldn't think it would be too hard to do......

Richard

shabbs
2006-11-08, 06:53
At a minimum, your comment has inspired me to print off a list of my entire collection and place it in my safe deposit box, to make replacing my CDs in the event of a catastrophe easier.
If you have a camcorder, made a video of your collection and keep it in a fire-proof safe. That way you can actually prove to your insurance company that you had the items in your possession.

peter
2006-11-08, 07:14
On Wed, 8 Nov 2006 05:52:30 -0800, "SadGamerGeek"
<SadGamerGeek.2gyidn1162994101 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> said:
>
> I've been thinking something similar, but I'm a bit put-off by the
> cost. I've contemplated a simple set-up, where I have an agreement with
> a friend (who lives a considerable distance from me), where we both set
> ourselved up so that I incrementaly backup to a dedicated drive in his
> home, and vice-versa. I've not given a lot of thought to the logistics
> of this yet, but I wouldn't think it would be too hard to do......

I've considered that option too, but I don't like the idea of a friend
having my confidential bank records and administration on his PC. The
ideal solution to this would be a encrypted peer-to-peer backup system
where the encryption takes place on your side and the storage on your
friend's side. I've actually thought of writing something like this, it
wouldn't be to difficult with the right tools. The incrementality
combined with the encryption would be the hardest part.

But a colo system is good for many other things and it's a business
expense so I'm quite satisfied with my current setup.

Regards,
Peter

Diana
2006-11-08, 13:36
...Any copy you make is subject to copyright laws applicable to your region (Law)...

The UK copyright laws make it technically illegal for us to make any kind of copy of CDs, DVDs, etc. We are all technically breaking the law by copying CDs we've bought. There's currently a proposal to change the law here so that we don't have to arrest most of the population!

CatBus
2006-11-08, 14:07
It's also worth noting (maybe I missed someone else mentioning it?) that some discs are out of print and simply cannot be replaced.

No amount of insurance money can replace them. Even if I were lucky enough to stumble across a copy in good condition at a used record store, one of my rarest out-of-print CDs is selling used for over $75. Do you think the insurance company will cough up $75 for a CD that retailed for $6? No way.

So backups are quite ethical under these circumstances, IMO. And I've got no problems with other circumstances either.