Time to time, copyright and such comes up in discussions where I hang out. Being a writer, I'm sorta of the mind that some yabbo scanning books and then sticking them up as bit torrents is theft, pure and simple. Same with music or movies.
However, the edges sometimes get a little fuzzy. Let's say, for instance, that I have a bunch of CDs that I bought and paid for. Several of them have favorite cuts, and with the wonder of not-so-modern electronics, I can stick five CDs them into my player and select the songs I want to listen to in whichever order I want. Perfectly legal.
(I'm not getting into iPod-ery here, save tangentially, and I'll get back to that.)
So, I want to listen to some music and my preferences run to several different artists on this particular day whilst I drive into town. Let's say, I want to start with Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water, then a couple of Beatles tunes -- Let it Be, and Hey, Jude. Then maybe some Clapton, Layla. Some George Harrison, What is Life? Cat -- before he was Yusuf Islam -- Stevens: Hard Headed Woman, Father and Son. End the set with Don McClean's American Pie. Forty-odd minutes of groove, enough for a drive into town.
I can pack up half a dozen CDs and take them to my car, then, because the player there slots but one at a time, risk my life and limb switching disks as I motor down the highway.
Or, I can do a mix CD. Copy the songs onto my computer, stack them like I want, and burn them to a disk.
Technically, I believe this is illegal. But morally, I'm good with it. Why? Because I paid for the CDs and I can listen to the pieces as many times as I wish. Burning them onto a mix disk doesn't take any money out of anybody's pocket, since I'm not going to buy them again in the same medium.
If I download these songs from iTunes, I can carry them around on my iPod or listen to them on my computer in any order I want legally, no?
If somebody put out a compilation disk of those artists doing those songs, I'd be willing to pay for that, but nobody will. Me putting my choices onto a personal disk that I'm not going to sell doesn't, as far as I can see, hurt anybody financially whatsoever, nor am I'm stealing anything, since I bought the disks legally.
Who gets hurt?
How slippery is this slope?
I doubt that Sir Paul and Slow Hand's lawyers are gonna knock on the door and threaten me with legal action. If somebody bought one of my novels and then sat down and read it into a recorder so he could listen to it while driving to work, I'd be good with that. If they photocopied it so they could read it in the bathtub and not risk ruining it, as long as they kept both copies? Not a problem for me there, either.
Interesting where one draws the line ...