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answerjill's avatar

Legal and ethical aspects of making a mix-tape?

Asked by answerjill (6180points) January 2nd, 2010

My synagogue is having an auction to make money for its operations. We are all encouraged to donate items or services for people to bid on. I wanted to make something homemade. One of my specialties is making mix-cd’s for friends. When I rip songs from cd’s and put them on gift compilation cd’s for my friends, I don’t worry about copywright and such. If people would be paying money to buy raffle tickets or to bid on my cd’s, then what are the legal and ethical considerations that I should be thinking about? Would I need to get permission from the artists for the use of their music, for example? Thanks!

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14 Answers

laureth's avatar

Considering that it’s viewed as stealing (even when you make a mixtape for friends), I can only imagine that it would be the same when you go to sell one for charity. I work in the music/entertainment field, and almost every CD that passes through my hands has a “please don’t copy or lend to others to copy” message on it. If even YouTube requires artist’s or label’s permission to use music in a video on their site, I would assume your situation is similar.

One solution might be to bring up your idea to the person at the synagogue in charge of rounding up donations for the charity auction. See if they are comfortable with your idea, or if the religious community there would be OK with auctioning off a CD that is a copyright infringement.

Lastly, one way you could still do this legally is to make a playlist with your chosen songs on iTunes, and donate a gift card that you bought to be auctioned off. The winner could then purchase your mix with the gift card, or other music if they want.

Hope it goes well! :) And good on you for wanting to contribute to your auction’s success. That sounds like a very worthy thing to do.

answerjill's avatar

@laureth You made some really good points. I especially like the itunes idea.

Spinel's avatar

The intention is good, the way is not.

An artist’s songs are his (or her) income. When a person (e.g. you) takes his or her song and makes copies of it to give away or sell indirectly (like at an auction), you are “stealing” potential buyers, which means you are – even if you never intended to – stealing income from the artist and disrespecting his (or her) property. You are not taking that artist’s efforts (and copyright laws) into account. Its kind of like when someone steals a photographer’s photos from Shutterstock and posts them on Flickr.

I like @laureth‘s itunes suggestion: its creative. However, it does have one possibly damaging disadvantage: it requires more work on the buyer’s part. People can be lazy. A ready made, fully assembled item has more appeal then one which requires work in any form.

Your intentions are admirable, but the best way is probably to ask the artists first, or to find songs under Creative Commons licenses. Public domain music is also worth a look.

DominicX's avatar


As far as I’m concerned, if people truly wanted to keep you from making a mix CD for friends, it would be a lot more difficult to do so. As soon as you pop a CD into your computer, iTunes comes up and asks if you want to rip all the tracks off the CD and turn them into mp3s for your own personal use. It’s pretty much asking you to do it.

I’m just wondering why if it’s stealing that it’s so damn easy to do.

answerjill's avatar

I think that I will not do the charity mix cd. There are just too many ethical and legal problems. As for making cd’s for friends, I am still on the fence. For one thing, I tend to put work by independent and obscure artists on my mixes. Oftentimes, people who are introduced to these artists via my mixes then go ahead and purchase albums and mp3’s that they would never have thought to buy if it hadn’t been for my samplers.

sndfreQ's avatar

You can gift playlists as iMixes in iTunes. That way you buy the licenses and then they can download them legally. Look up gifting iMixes in the iTunes help section.

DrMC's avatar

very very deep question.

If it’s easy – is it wrong?
If everyone does it, is it wrong?
If the practice of copy rights seems to go against fairness is violating the law wrong?
Is ownership of intellectual property theft.

“How can you own the land we walk on, any more than the air we breathe?”

In defeat, when asked by a white man, “Where are your lands now?” Crazy Horse responded “My land is where my dead lie buried.”

You chose a synagogue as a place to test these ideas. (I’m giggling – did you get yer ass whooped?)

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Theft might be easy but there is always a risk. In Pakistan I saw a street kid shot in the back for stealing a piece of fruit from a vendors stall. If the copyright holders lawyers pick you as their target, you are toast.

laureth's avatar

@DrMC – lots of people rape and kill. Doesn’t make it right. Is that what you’re getting at?

DrMC's avatar

No laureth – did your mother ever tell you if everyone else is doing it is it still right?

If the answer to these qeustions are not self evident, then they need to be asked to help those blind to the obvious.

The real issue with respect to crazy horse is extremely deep. This is much more interesting.

Is it wrong to copy music?

The silly issue is how could you not think the rabbi wouldn’t take issue. That’s like in the job definition. (I’m not jewish). You don’t have to belong to any particular religion to recognize the irony.

The real issue IMHO is. Is intellectual property rights truely ethical? What is the outcome to society? Does this violate freedoms that are inalienable rights.

When you begin to sanction the product of thought, how close are we on the slippery slope to legally regulating thought?

Would there be a benifit to the greater good to avoid this? Would it be more ethical.

The ultimate example of insane wealth through intellectual property right is our good friend and satanic symbol Bill Gates. Hallowed be thine evilness.

If the tree can be judged by the exploitive “cutting off of air supply” fruit, that our society has given the nod to, then perhaps we are simply building the intellectual equivalant of sodom and gommorah.

Ideas need to be set free. Memes, whatever need hosts to survive in. The biology of intellectual rights is very complex.

So – was Crazy horse wrong? – Can you own the air we breathe?

BTW – I pay 100% for my music, and I will spit on Bill Gates, given the chance. He is Evil.

DrMC's avatar

whoa – didn’t realize these 2 ideas and their commonality – just re-reading to edit

Executive in Microsoft RE competition with netscape: “We’ll cut off their air supply”

Krazy horse, “Can you own land any more than you can own the air we breathe”


laureth's avatar

@DrMC – no need to ask about my mother. I was trying to understand your point, not mock you.

DrMC's avatar

<—- oh the mockery!

where is my tin foil hat by the way?

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