Is CD copying legal in the US?



I am a stunch supporter of the Fair Use Act which allows one to copy discs for archival purpose. I firmly believe that I should be able to back up any software that I own.

Unfortunately the US laws state that it is illegal to “circumvent a technological measure” means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner.

In the case of a copy protected disc the copy protection (technological measure) appear to be bypassed in order to create a backup. This would be appear to “circumvent” the copy protection, thus breaking the law.

This implies that one can copy the discs as long as they are not copy protected.

I implore for those familiar with the US laws to assist in clarifying this.
What argument or laws would I have to support my stance that I should be able to copy CDs legally?

All responses are welcomed.
Thanks in advance.


Hi Nemesys,

I’m not completely versed in all things copyright, but it is my understanding that the DMCA supercedes fair use. In other words you may work around encryption to create a backup of a copyrighted work you purchased legally and you wouldn’t be guiltly of copyright infrigement, but you would be guilty of breaking the DMCA’s circumvention clause. There are some bills that have been written to amend the DMCA for this reason. On the otherhand, I am not aware of a single person, who has been sued for making backups of copyrighted work for their personal use, so we have that in our favor. If I were sued for breaking the DMCA to make backups of copyrighted work that I had purchased, I think I would argue that I purchased the right to listen to the music I purchased and the law doesn’t dictate what device I use to exercise that right. If the disk breaks, I still have bought the right to listen to the work and shouldn’t be penalized per the DCMA as a lawful purchase.


Hey there fellas;
Nem - you know I’m in complete agreement with the Fair Use view…and it sickens me to know what’s coming is even much worse. Embedded Hardware technologies , newer BIOSes, encryption between source and device, etc.

I’m no attorney and haven’t focused my attentions in this area b/c it’s disgusting. IIRC, BK is pretty much up on this stuff - or had been, in the past. I do NOT buy a LOT of stuff, b/c of this ensuing crap.
Yes, I suffer a little, but it would hurt me/us/we further if I were to give in - if only a “community’s” Boycott could matter anymore…for shame indeed.

To add;
I noticed a a fellow CDfreak’s sig (teflonmyk) linking to this;
a bit dated, but has some news concerning this topic

also - a bit OT, but this is pertitinent and very interesting IMHO;
from the Co-founder and Chief Scientist of Sun Microsystems

specifically this article


Here is a good link on the Audio Home Recording Act that is supposed to protect consumers for making “none commercial” copies of copyrighted work that they have purchased. It clear that the DMCA is an attempt to circumvent this provision of the HARA.


Thanks for the responses and the links guys.

rhettro, welcome to CD Freaks.

It still appears that if the disc is copy protected, then it becomes illegal to copy.

US Code TITLE 17 > CHAPTER 1 > § 117. Limitations on exclusive rights: Computer programs authorizes the copy of the discs, but mentions nothing of copy protection. This is an ammendment to the DCMA and I believe it was created in 2001.