Am I a music thief, or not?


I understand the idea about why music sharing is wrong. If I want to listen to a CD as much as I want whenever I want, I should have to buy it, and the artist and record company should get some financial benefit from that. If my buddy buys a CD and I rip it, then both of us are listening to it as much as we want whenever we want, then the record company has only received payment for one CD. When I rip it, the record company and artist each lose some potential income so in a sense, I’ve stolen it. I get that.

Recently, I went to the local library and borrowed a CD by Liquid Tension Experiment. I listened to it for a while, and then returned it. Since then, every time I’ve been to the library and I look on the CD shelves, the one I borrowed is there on the shelf. In theory, every one of those times I could have borrowed the CD for another two weeks. I live in a small town, so the odds are high that I can get this album pretty much any time. I called the library (holy crap, look at me doing research for a blog entry!) and asked them if I was allowed to borrow a CD as many times as I want, and they said that as long as I return the CD to the library now and again (I can renew it without returning it, but only twice), there is no limit. This means that I can listen to this CD pretty much as much as I want whenever I want, and it’s perfectly legal, even though I didn’t pay to borrow it, the library doesn’t pay anyone each time I borrow it, and I didn’t pay to get the library card in the first place.

Here’s the kicker — when I borrowed the CD, I ripped it to MP3s. It’s now on my iPod. This means that I can still listen to it as much as I want whenever I want, just I could before, but I don’t have the inconvenience of having to go to the library to get it out or return it. The record company is still not getting any money, nor is the artist, but they wouldn’t have anyway. Was ripping this CD wrong, and if so, why? Who loses when I do this?

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