Art Alexion on 31 Jul 2009 06:47:24 -0700

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Re: [PLUG] OT: If I can Record a TV Program off-the-air, Can I record a Streaming Internet Radio Program?

On Thursday 30 July 2009 20:29:12 Casey Bralla wrote:
> I ask this question from 2 vantage points:  1) Legal; and 2) Moral
> The supreme court has famously ruled that it is perfectly legal to record
> TV and radio broadcast off the air (and I presume, off cable).  This
> strikes me as being both legally sound, and morally defensible.   I pay for
> cable service and am forced to watch commercials as payment for the
> pleasure of listening to and recording the shows.
> But how about for a streaming music service that states in their
> accompanying documentation that it is not legal to record the stream (due
> to licensing issues), even though you pay for the privilege of listening to
> the stream?
> I don't know the law in this case, but it strikes me as morally acceptable
> to record the stream, especially as I will pay for the stream listening
> rights. Further, the situation seems so analogous to over-the-air recording
> as to be silly to even differentiate it.
> But, I frankly don't feel entirely comfortable with this position and would
> welcome the opinions of other rampant moralizers.
> BTW, I don't feel any strong moral obligation to comply with an immoral or
> unjust law, although I do tend to minimize the likelihood that something
> bad will happen to me if I do so.  Or in other words, I'm all for Civil
> Disobedience, but I'm a coward and don't want to spend the night in j

The law can be vague and unclear when applying principles of tangible property 
to intangible property, and also when trying to forge new principles to the 
concept of intangible property.

You also have the concepts of buying vs. leasing vs. licensing.  The strategy 
of the distributors of intangible property has been to license it rather than 
sell it, thereby attempting to retain ownership and control even after the 

This gets even more murky when the license of the intangible is or is not 
accompanied by the sale of tangible property (think buying a tangible CD 
containing intangible music vs. merely buying/licensing digital music.)

Fortunately, your question has a more practical, if not definitively legal, 
answer.  IP claimants tend to go after those who DISTRIBUTE IP they claim to 
control.  Practically speaking, the likelihood that you will be troubled, or 
even detected, for RECORDING your streams for your OWN use.

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