Ethics of Owning Music

So I was recently working on homework and I stumbled upon an interesting question regarding the ethics of legal restrictions of owning and sharing of music either through CD or even digital downloads. So here is the original question:

Anna received some music CDs of her favorite band for her birthday. She likes to listen to her m usic on her smartphone, so she ripped the music to her computer and transferred the songs to her phone. Because she no longer needs the CDs to listen to her music, her roommate Monica suggested that she sell them on eBay. This would free up some space in their cramped apartment and generate some much-needed cash.

Anna wonders if this is ok. Is it ethical to sell the CDs and still keep the music? Is it legal? Because Anna and Monica share a computer, is it ok for both of them to transfer the music files to their smartphones?

Answer

So now that you know the full question here is my opinion on this topic:

I think that it would be wrong of her to resell the CD. She has already ripped them to her computer so ethically she still should own the disk because she still has the music from it the disk. I do think that this is illegal because the person who is unknowingly buying the music is stealing. It’s one thing to listen to it they return it if you don’t like it. It is a whole another story to steal the music off then resell it for a profit.

Although I do think that it is ok for her to share the music with her roommate, because if computers were out of the picture and they just had the CD then they would be sharing that CD. There is no sense in buying two copies of the same disk for people that live together and can easily access one copy of that disk. In this case, instead of them both accessing the disk, you can get to the music via their shared computer.

This, in my opinion, is a very complicated concept. The law supports the record label companies with strict copyright laws which allow them to place DRM, Digital Rights Management, on music and make a lot of money off of them by making everyone own their own copy. But if any of my family members living with me purchases a disk do I ethically have the right to listen to it? This back and forth battle is why I think that music streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify, and video streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are so successful. With these services, you are able to rent the music or movie/tv show and listen or watch on almost any device that can connect to the internet, and even download the music and shows for offline listening. Sure you can’t burn the music to a disk, but so what CD and DVD are on their way out. With family plans with the ability to include up to 5 people on your account, your whole family can listen to music without worrying about the laws preventing you from sharing music in any other way.

*Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a technology that is embedded into digitally purchased content such as music, TV shows, and movies. This is what makes your digital content only work in certain apps and signed into a certain account. For example, if you purchase a movie in iTunes on your Mac, you can’t then try to copy it to a PC and open it into Windows Media Player because you will be stopped by the encryption. Windows Media Player does not know how to decrypt the movie.

So that my opinion now I want to hear your opinion. When, if at all, is it ok to share music with others either via CD or digital download? Do you think that music streaming services are helping or hurting this issue?

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