A question about digital piracy

I understand that media piracy is sinful, but I’m wondering about a specific situation. I have a physical copy of an album that was signed by the artist. It would be nice to have a copy that I can keep in my car, so that this one can stay nice and neat. Assuming I’m not redistributing it, would it be wrong to make a copy of it for my own personal use?

Also, what about material that isn’t available anymore? For example, books that are out of print?

Usually publishers allow copies for personal use.

There are a number of sites that offer out of print books or you could check with local used bookstores.

You don’t say how you’re going to make this copy or if the album is not available for download from a legitimate site.


Yours is not a question of sin or morality but of ethics. It is certainly not wrong to make a copy of something that you own, anymore than it is to loan a book or a cd to friend or even check out a book, cd or movie from the local library, regardless of the chorus of voices that will start spewing sections of copyright laws. In fact, this is not even what the original meaning of the term “piracy” meant; it has been rewritten recently because of the rise of computers and the internet. Classic piracy involved copying items to resell for monetary gain. If you own it, then, short of copying to sell for financial gain, you are free to do what you wish with it.

The OP already owns a copy of the album. He is under no obligation to buy another if he wants to listen to it in the car.

Personally I think it’s fine since you already paid for a copy, the artist gets money whether you use your special copy or one that you’ve downloaded. You can even download 4000 copies of the same album and as long as it’s for personal use it wouldn’t hurt the artist. Sometimes I do this when a DVD/Blu-ray gets scratched to the point where you can’t play it, I’m not going to pay money for something that I already legally own. Also books, movies and songs that are out of distribution are usually part of the public domain anyways, so if you cannot find some obscure media I see no problem with downloading it.

Public domain does not work like that.

From the U.S. Copyright Office:


My company has books that are out of distribution but we still hold the copyright to them. If someone did a PDF of one of our out of distribution books and 4,000 downloads occurred, that person would be in legal trouble immediately.


Copyright laws last a very very long time. In the US, I believe it is life of the author (or until the death of the last surviving author if more than one) PLUS like 40 years.

aww well that is true, I guess it would be illegal but if you can’t find it on Amazon. Google Pay, on-demand, ect whould it be immoral? I was thinking more 1940s movies or even pre-1900s books but I bet even those have copyrights.

My main concern is about music. With books, it’s pretty rare that they can’t be found anywhere, although I have had a couple cases like that.

I listen to some pretty lesser known metal genres, and sometimes there isn’t anywhere I can legally purchase albums from bands that have broken up. What about cases like this?

Regarding bands that have broken up, I suggest checking fan sites, even if they are closed and are simply archived, for clues. It may be that you could find something on facebook or an “obscure metal” or music collectors’ site that could point you to good outlets for music that is hard to find. You might find one of the original band members and ask him or her.


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