I have several old records and casettes of pop music albums some of which are damaged. While I am the legal owner of the recorded media, I do not own the copyright. I understand this.

Does purchasing the record or casette give me the right to listen to the music, and if so, could I legally download and listen to songs that were on my damaged casette or record?

Or do I have to buy the CD of the recording?

  • Where is this? We can't answer your question if we don't know the governing law. – Stackstuck Jan 3 '17 at 18:30

From a strictly legal POV, purchasing a record or casette does not give you the right to listen to the music from sources other then the cassete, so you "have to buy the CD of the recording" or buy a digital copy of the audio.

Of-course, if your casette or record were still undamaged, you might be able to argue that you have the right to convert it to a digital version (which is not the same thing as downloading it)

I note that all of the above will vary slightly depending on your location - Canada, for example, has less strict laws then the US (and charge a private copying levy to cover format shifting)

  • If the cassette was broken you could argue with more or less success that you are repairing it - for example by buying a blank cassette and copying an mp3 converted to analog audio onto it. Not saying that argument holds water, but you could argue it. – gnasher729 Dec 20 '16 at 18:02
  • "davidgo" Thanks for the answer, but how can the location - Canada for example undermine the agreement that the artist had with the record company - and cause a loss of revenue ? Does each country have an agreement with the record company or does the record co. have to comply with local laws? – stackex555 Dec 21 '16 at 3:53
  • 1
    @stackex555 Copyright law is a body of law district from contract. It doesn't matter what sort of agreements are in place except to the extent those agreements allow copying. Here, the question is what rights does one have merely by legally possessing a cassette with a recording on it, therefore the jurisdiction matters. Actually in either event the jurisdiction could matter, but that's a different analysis that doesn't improve this conversation. – COMisHARD Dec 21 '16 at 4:13

Owning the cassette does not give you legal rights to convert the audio to other formats or duplicate it beyond what is required for playback (temporary cached copies etc.) Thus in the UK even ripping CDs to your phone/MP3 player is technically violating copyright.

However, copyright infringement is not a crime, so it isn't actually illegal unless done on a commercial scale for profit. At most, the copyright holder could sue you for damages, in this case the price of the replacement MP3, typically around 70p. In practice copyright holders generally don't bother with people making copies for the car or work, taping songs from the radio, time-shifting, ripping to their computer and the like, but there is no guarantee that they wouldn't pursue you for that very small sum of money.

In addition, you must also consider how you would download the MP3. Peer-to-peer file sharing systems like BitTorrent also upload data as you download it, so you could also be sued for losses stemming from distribution if caught.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.