Would this be an ethical way of sharing music with a friend?

I used to share music with friends for free before I realized it was wrong and stopped. I’m having a friend over soon and there are some albums I want to share with him, but I don’t want to do anything unjust. So I thought of a way of making him a copy while still giving the artists what they deserve. I would burn a CD based on the album I have, then delete all the files of it on my PC and re-purchase the digital one off amazon. This means I essentially gave away my original copy then bought a new one for myself. Would this be an ethical way of sharing digital music? I know I could just buy him the CD but the record store is pretty far and I don’t want to pay shipping.

That seems to be to be the exact same thing as your friend buying it by himself and burning the music. However, I believe it is illegal. You are giving music to someone who isn’t paying for it. Even if you buy it twice, your friend never payed for the right to own the music. :wink:

Why don’t you just tell him/her to purchase the music then burn it to a CD? You can gift your friend a card or something. :thumbsup:

That’s what I wondered too. Couldn’t one argue that I’m essentially giving him the rights to owning the first download by deleting all my copies of it? I’m very poorly read in the legal aspect of this, so this is a legitimate question.

:confused: This is confusing!

If you buy a CD, it is perfectly legal to give it away or even sell it, as long as you do not make a copy. Here is a useful reference:
wikipedia article: First-sale doctrine
The copyright is just that: the right to copy the work (or to authorize certain others to copy it). Once the copy is sold, that copy may be passed around (provided that no additional copies are made).

Now it gets confusing. Music content purchased online might be different. I do not know about every vendor, but I read the Amazon Music Terms of Use. It appears to say the use of their digital music is not transferable. You buy it for your own use.

This is a bit like software licenses. They are different from copyrights. A software license is not the same as a copy. It is the right to use the software. It may or may not be transferable, depending on the terms of the license agreement.

For example, the same software may be sold, or rather it’s license is sold, to educational users at a lower price than to other users. It may be exactly the same software, but students and faculty (or the school) can purchase the license cheaper. It is usually not transferable. In fact, when a student leaves school, he is no longer authorized to continue using the software under the educational license. He is supposed to purchase a new license as a regular user.

But I digress…:o

To be on the safe side, you could give your friend a gift certificate for the music vendor.

But the music is been paid for. Not by the friend, but so? If he bought the cd as a gift and gave it to his friend, the friend wouldn’t be paying for it then either. It would still be legal.

This is exactly the same thing.

The way I see it, you are giving him YOUR music and buying music again for yourself?

It may be illegal, but in the end you are paying for it, so satisfaction/restitution appears to be there, I’m just not sure about internal sin.

Yes, but in that instance, he would be giving a CD to his friend. That’s fine, but that’s not what I suggested.
Now, it’s not the exact same thing. There are different laws when it comes to digital music. Sure, it would be ethical for him to do what he was already going to do, however, it would be illegal.
Digital music distribution is illegal, unless there are exceptions to this…

I contacted RIAA with this question and am awaiting an answer.

Unlike a physical CD, a digital music licensed is non-transferable. But it’s not a copyright violation and therefore not illegal. It’s a breach of contract. The morality of contract breaches is debatable.

Isn’t breach of contract still illegal? And grave matter, for that matter?

What, exactly, did you realize was “wrong?”

You are joking, aren’t you?

If the problem is that it is illegal to distribute digital music due to it being against the TOS you agreed to when you opened your account but it’s not illegal to buy a physical copy and give it as a gift then just do that!

It’s not illegal. It’s grounds for a civil suit. I.e., I can sue you for breach of contract but the DA can’t prosecute you for it.

To further complicate the matter, the civil wrongness of breach of contract is based on some tangible loss. The situation described in the OP would not result in a tangible loss.

It would certainly qualify as a tangible loss. Just because various things can be distributed as digitial bits, it does not make them any less tangible or valuable. Say I own a company called Netflix, and I charge $10.00 to stream a movie to your computer. Or you make a copy, buy a Blu-Ray or something and delete it from your computer? Why can’t your friend get it through legal means?


A judge would determine tangible monies were not paid or transfer of ownership was illegal. Or both. Your friend could buy his own CD or get it as an mp3. No shipping.


What is the tangible loss? He paid for two copies. Seems like it can be dismissed for failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted.

And it’s not illegal.

The FBI takes Intellectual Property Theft seriously. And since it’s costing billions of dollars and job losses, there are companies who have developed tools to help insure that any company’s work is not used or distributed improperly.


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