Join 3,558 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Oh, rare Germany-only EP with the misprinted insert, we have to talk...
January 26, 2011 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Calling all collectors (particularly of music and DVDs, etc.)--let's talk about dismantling our collections.

I've been undertaking a really enjoyable project of going through all of my clutter and donating or discarding anything I don't need or want.

I've donated any book I can get in the public domain. I will probably end up with fewer than 20 fiction books that are not public domain and that I expect to re-read in the next 5 years (or that have sentimental value, or are art books/cookbooks, reference, etc.). I read all the time, but I don't save anything anymore.

But what to do with CDs/DVDs that I've collected since I was a kid? I'm a completist about certain bands--mostly UK acts that have lots of singles and rarities. Similarly, for a while, I was collecting DVDs (including a lot of stuff that was way out of print). [But to be clear, this is not a hoarding situation; I have maybe three standard bookshelves (not bookcases) of DVDs, and all the CDs are in a couple of flat boxes under the bed. I don't buy DVDs anymore, though I do keep buying music...]

Fellow collectors: how have you come to terms with the decision to potentially dismantle your collections? I have next to no attachment to the physical objects, but they're trophies of the hunt, and connections to my favorite artists. But also very heavy and not something I want to take on my next move.

And, specifically in digital realm, what is the legality of keeping a rip of that CD or DVD when you sell it or give it away? I have no intention of deleting any of my music, and if I need the CD to be "legit," I'll keep it. (Hence the anonymous question--I don't want the RIAA or MPAA knocking on my door just for asking this question.)
posted by anonymous to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
It is absolutely illegal to rip CDs and then give them away or sell them. I can't imagine anyone would ever find out, but it's against the law.
posted by The Lamplighter at 12:48 PM on January 26, 2011


Over the course of the last ten years I've probably gotten rid of 75%+ of the books I've owned, including a significant collection of tabletop RPGs. We did a huge sweep last October when we decided we were buying a house and dropped about half of the books and probably 2/3 of the RPG books. What we said was "buying this house is about how we want to live over the next few years; we can have more room for stuff or more room for people". When we thought about how often we were (re) reading the books and how often we were playing the RPGs vs how often we wanted to have people over and cursed the fact we didn't have enough room, it was an easy decision.

So I would ask you: What is your collection keeping you from doing? What benefit will you get from disposing of (part of) it? If this is a choice, what are you choosing over it?
posted by immlass at 12:55 PM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Actually, I think it is legal to burn a CD and give it away, but you just can't make money off of it. But I could be wrong.
posted by elder18 at 12:58 PM on January 26, 2011


Lamplighter is right. In the United States, at least, it is illegal to rip a disc and then give the physical media away--you'd have to destroy your copy. However, most music can be bought as a legal download nowadays. I'd keep (legal) digital copies of everything that can be legally obtained that way, and keep only those discs you think are either (a) worth money in themselves or (b) unable to be legally downloaded.

I have thousands of classical music CDs. I'm trying to do the same thing, but quite a few of these are out of print and unobtainable online. I'm thinking of keeping the discs in 100-CD books and tossing the jewel cases; liner notes will be scanned and tossed.
posted by Hylas at 1:03 PM on January 26, 2011


If you are keeping the music and movies you should keep the cd's and dvd's. I purchased a few high capacity cd wallets and moved the discs to them, tossing the jewel cases. Takes up a lot less space that way.
posted by cosmac at 1:18 PM on January 26, 2011


Time is a factor as well. I didn't have the patience to rip all my old CDs to a drive and went the booklet route. I got a soft binder with 4 disk pages, pairing the disks with the covers and notes in adjacent pockets. It was quick to do and I was amazing to have a few hundred CDs sitting in a bookshelf, taking up hardly any space.
posted by bonobothegreat at 1:19 PM on January 26, 2011


And, specifically in digital realm, what is the legality of keeping a rip of that CD or DVD when you sell it or give it away? I have no intention of deleting any of my music, and if I need the CD to be "legit," I'll keep it. (Hence the anonymous question--I don't want the RIAA or MPAA knocking on my door just for asking this question.)

It's probably illegal depending on where you live, what copy protection (if any) is used on those CDs and DVDs, and what you do with the music. In the UK for instance, it is illegal for you to rip a CD in the first place even if it's just so you can play a legally purchased CD on your iPod. Also you seem to be overestimating the diligence of the RIAA and MPAA, it's only marginally worth it for them to crack down on piracy, let alone search the Internet for references of people planning on breaking laws that are more or less unenforceable on a practical level. Your chance of getting sued over this is negligible so you should make your decision about what you think is morally right.

However, most music can be bought as a legal download nowadays. I'd keep (legal) digital copies of everything that can be legally obtained that way, and keep only those discs you think are either (a) worth money in themselves or (b) unable to be legally downloaded.

One thing to remember about this (other than that you would have to re-buy your extensive music collection in order to listen to it), is that at least right now it's uncommon for lossless DRM-free music to be sold digitally. So if you end up buying a lossy and/or DRM-encumbered versions, you may have to pay for the same music a third time later on when you have a new device or need it in a new format. Ironically this is not an issue for illegal file sharing, you can most likely find most of your CDs on places like what or waffles in perfect lossless rip format.

Fellow collectors: how have you come to terms with the decision to potentially dismantle your collections? I have next to no attachment to the physical objects, but they're trophies of the hunt, and connections to my favorite artists. But also very heavy and not something I want to take on my next move.

The process of collecting is fun, but after that, you don't get a lot from physically holding on to that collection. What you really hold onto is the memory of scoring that rare limited edition single or whatever, and that won't go away if you sell it. At the end of the day, music is meant to be heard and films are meant to be seen, so if they are just sitting on your shelf collecting dust then you're better off selling them or giving them away and letting someone else enjoy them. Keep a few of your favorites but let the rest go.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:28 PM on January 26, 2011


I used to buy the DVD of every single movie I really liked. I finally was able to get myself out of that habit a couple years ago. Basically I looked at my shelf of 400+ DVDs on it and realized, I really don't go back and watch these DVDs over and over again. Additionally, being a DVD collector is just so annoying now because every year, there is a new version or format of a movie that is released.

So I figure there is no point in me owning most major Hollywood commercial movies. Whenever I want to watch one, I'll just rent it from Netflix. They are really good about having the blu-ray copies in stock if it exists.

I gathered about 200 of my DVD and sold them in one big lot on eBay. I have several DVDs that are rare or out-of-print, so of course I am hanging on to those.
posted by fac21 at 1:40 PM on January 26, 2011


Legal issues aside, when dismantling any of my collections, I remember this quote (more or less) from Peter Egan: "It is indeed beautiful, but it will be no less beautiful if someone else has it." In sum: you once jumped at the opportunity to own these objects, how can you not be the person to make these object available to the next seeker? Is that not how you got here? Do you not have the responsibility to make sure that some other collector will be able to enjoy them in the future? After all, it's not the world itself that's heavy, it's all the crap we carry around and attach values to that is.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 2:17 PM on January 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


In an attempt to shrink my cd collection, I bought a bunch of plastic CD sleeves. Found I could put two CDs with the booklet and back cover into each sleeve. I then stacked them in plastic totes. It is amazing how much room I freed up with that process.
posted by vagabond at 8:53 PM on January 26, 2011


And, specifically in digital realm, what is the legality of keeping a rip of that CD or DVD

Since nobody has addressed the legality of DVD rips, let me. (IANAL).
Anonymous, I don't know where you live, but I'll assume it is the United States.

The whole reason that ripping CDs (assume you own them) is deemed legal is thanks to the doctrine of Fair Use, combined with the fact that almost all audio CDs lack copy-protection.

However, ripping DVDs is illegal, regardless of whether you own/keep the DVD. The reason for that illegality is the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, or DMCA, which makes the act of subverting copy protection a crime in and of itself. The illegality of ripping DVDs in the United States has been tested and upheld in US court, completely subverting the doctrine of fair use for purchased-but-copy-protected DVD media.

So keeping the DVDs doesn't make ripping them any more legal (at least in the US.)

Of course, if you are not under US jurisdiction, none of the above may apply.
posted by namewithoutwords at 5:47 AM on January 27, 2011


However, ripping DVDs is illegal, regardless of whether you own/keep the DVD. The reason for that illegality is the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, or DMCA, which makes the act of subverting copy protection a crime in and of itself. The illegality of ripping DVDs in the United States has been tested and upheld in US court, completely subverting the doctrine of fair use for purchased-but-copy-protected DVD media.

This is not necessarily true. The "tested and upheld in US court" link is about RealNetworks, v. DVD CCA, and while the final result was it was illegal to distribute the software, that does not mean that it is illegal to make fair use copies. From the injunction:

So while it may well be fair use for an individual consumer to store a backup copy of a personally owned DVD on that individual's computer, a federal law has nonetheless made it illegal to manufacture or traffic in a device or tool that permits a consumer to make such copies.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:32 PM on January 27, 2011


I went through the exact same thing about three years ago. I had crates and cases of CDs that were a laborious pain to move, and decided to go entirely digital. I ripped my collection in flagrant defiance of the DMCA because that law is garbage, then posted a listing of my catalog in several CD trading message boards for people to put together lists of wants, and sold off about half of it that way before liquidating the remainders to a used-cd retailer. End result - much less stuff to move, and I had an extra couple grand in my pocket to assist with the upcoming address change!

I think the biggest motivator for me to get over the 'collector impulse' hump - I had stacks of limited release radio promos, imports that i bought because they had a different track ORDER than the domestic release(s), all sorts of fetishistic completionist stacks and piles. Eventually I realized, however, that the only thing that collection was doing was reassuring me, in the back of my mind, that it simply *existed*, and I *had it*. It wasn't useful in and of itself - the audio was all in my computer and mp3 player already, it wasn't like Art that I hung on my wall. It was just the physical cast off shells of music, like carrying around a ton of cicada husks. Once I wrapped my brain around that realization, it became a delight to free myself of all those old CDs. Of course, I immediately realized I now had space for NEW cds, and so it's growing again.

Of course, they've never figured out how to make a CD case smell like a sixty year old paperback, otherwise I'd never have gotten rid of them. My library isn't going ANYWHERE anytime soon...
posted by FatherDagon at 12:35 PM on January 27, 2011


I have weeded out a few dozen CDs from the couple-hundred I own. I kept the discs from my very favorite bands, and a few with sentimental value. The rest are boxed up, and I will be sending them to my brothers & sister & parents to pick over -- and they can dump the rest at Half-Price Books when they're done.

I used to Care Very Deeply about music, and I have a pang when I think about how much it meant to me at the time, but I have moved on to a different point in life when that emotional energy now goes to my wife & kids. *shrug*
posted by wenestvedt at 9:00 AM on January 28, 2011


« Older I know I'm lucky to have a job...   |  what is a 15 kw generac diesel... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.