In a struggle to be happy and free

Drystone Wall

The library

A few weeks back, I renewed my library card. It’s been expired for years. I had no idea what I needed to do so I went in and asked. It was a straightforward procedure. They just needed ID proving I live in the city. After handing over my drivers licence, I held up my expired card and said, “Here’s my card. Do they even look like this anymore?” They do. He reactivated it in the system without requiring the card itself.

I don’t know what reminded me, but I recalled that I had borrowed some CDs from the library a long time ago. You know, when my library card was still valid. That’s likely why I renewed it.

Over the last month, I’ve borrowed an average of about ten CDs a week. A few were in such bad condition that they wouldn’t rip properly. It’s disappointing that people don’t show reasonable care to the discs, but I suppose it’s to be expected. I do not expect to maintain this rate of borrowing for long. I believe that a big part of why I’m doing this is because I haven’t bought much music lately. I’ve been good about repaying debt and borrowing from the library allows me to enjoy new music without paying $20 for each CD.

And before we go there, this is legal. I’m making copies for my own private enjoyment. The Copyright Act (Part VIII “Private Copying,” section 80) is quite clear about it.

I’ve discovered that more popular titles are nowhere to be found. I wondered if the library even bought popular titles. Their absence isn’t a bad thing because it has me look more closely at titles I might not have otherwise decided to audition. Then it hit me: the popular titles are indeed part of the library’s collection, but they’re all signed out. I went to the library’s web site and searched for some titles I couldn’t find at the branch. Almost all of them were there. To get them, I need to reserve a copy and wait my turn. In one case, there are 175 people ahead of me on the list! That’s fine. I’m patient. When it’s my turn for any of the dozen titles I’ve reserved, they’ll send me an e‑mail message, and I can pick the disc at my local branch. It’s hardly inconvenient, especially considering the price!

I like the library.






  1. Alan

    Ummm, Rick. Taking a CD from the library and ripping it is no different than borrowing a CD and ripping it. You never paid for the copyright to entitle you to make the copy. So, you probably are breaking the law. Will anyone really care? In Canada, probably not and there’s no way to track you doing it this way. I’m pretty sure the section of the law for private use assumes you bought the musical work legally in the first place.

    It’s all a can of worms. If I buy a used CD, do I get the right to copy it? The artist never gets paid for a used CD, so technically, probably not.

  2. As long as you make the copy for your own personal use, how you get the original doesn’t factor into it. A borrowed CD, whether from a friend or the library, can be copied without infringing. The idea is that you pay the artist via the tariff we pay on blank media.

    In fact, the Canadian Copyright Board document “FILE: Private Copying 2001 – 2002, Copying for Private Use” (‑b.pdf) offers an extreme example:

    On the other hand, it is not required that the source or target medium be lawfully owned; using a stolen prerecorded CD to make a private copy on a stolen CD‑R involves two instances of theft but no copyright infringement

    If you hesitate at believing an older document, I don’t entirely blame you. Check the section of the current Copyright Act linked in the post. As long as the conditions are true and the exceptions are not, the copy is not infringing.

  3. Alan

    Ah, right. I forgot about that part. It almost makes you think the industry is cursing the day they fought for a tariff on blank media. Certainly 99% of artists will never see a dime from that tariff.

  4. Jonathan

    @ Alan

    The artists haven’t seen a penny and will likely never see any since the money collected is sitting in escrow. It is in escrow because they started collecting it BEFORE they even thought about how to distribute the fund! With no foreseeable way to distribute the fund equitably it will sit around until the feds appropriate it for some “terrorist” reason or whatever!

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