What do you do with your CDs?

With computers, MP3 players, smartphones, cloud drives and more, keeping physical copies of music is becoming a thing of the past.  This leaves us with an intriguing dilemma.  What do you do with all of your CDs?

As Audiogon user, Rhanson739, asked in our Forum, “So, you’ve ripped your entire collection of CDs to the hard drive, and you’re blissfully streaming music for hours without having to fetch the silver discs. Everything was transferred with ‘bit perfect’ perfection.  What did you do with your collection of physical media?  If you’ve kept the CD collection, why?  If you got rid of the collection, why?, and what did you do with it?  Trying to make a decision here.”

Rhanson739 brings up an interesting point.  After you’ve ripped all of your CDs onto your computer, you’re left with a bookshelf full of now useless discs taking up precious space in your listening area.  It seems like a logical conclusion to then try to sell or give these away, as you’ve got the music where you really need it.  Unfortunately, things aren’t that simple.

According to U.S. Copyright law, it is perfectly legal to make a copy (digital or otherwise) of something you’ve purchased whether it’s for use on a player that doesn’t take discs or just to have a back up of the material.  However, once you have sold or in some way gotten rid of the original copy, it is no longer legal to possess these copies, as you no longer own the content.

So whether you actually play music from CDs or not, if you listen to those songs in any other way, you need to keep the original.  It’s also always useful to have them as a back up in case something would ever happen to your hard drive or other storage devices, too, so be sure to keep them safe.

While you shouldn’t rid yourself of your CD collection, you can look for an alternative way to store your favorite discs that saves space.  For albums you’re sure that you want to keep, you can ditch the plastic cases and put the disc and artwork in paper sleeves instead or perhaps a small storage box will do. You can even get hanging sleeves for your CDs so you can flip through and file them by name or genre more easily.  This can also be done with DVDs and will eliminate a lot of excess packaging.  Afterwards, make sure to donate or recycle the cases so they don’t go to waste.  Check out some example pictures below.



For those albums that you are ready to part with, listing them on Audiogon is a great way to sell them.  Remember all music listings are FREE.  Click here to begin.

Have you come up with a unique, space-saving way to store your multimedia?  Comment below to share!


  1. I’m afraid your copyright law analysis is incorrect (I happen to be a copyright lawyer). Under Section 109 of the Copyright Act, it is never unlawful to sell CDs that you own. Whether it’s legal for you to rip the copies in the first place is a separate question, governed by Section 107 (fair use). Whether it is or is not lawful for you to have made the original copies is a question that must be answered when you make those copies. Any later sale cannot retroactively change that, so long as you are not making additional copies. 

    1.  Fred,…please explain fair use in a bit more detail.  I have a very large collection.  CD/SACDs each have an expected life before the materials/substrate are reported to break down. Therefore, given I purchased every single disc for personal use as a new item, am I allowed to them back them up to a massive hard-drive (array) as well as archive them for playback on a music server of some sort?  I believe the answer is yes as the music server copy (hardware presumed to be in one’s home and for non-commercial or public use) is for personal use and the backup device is for retention but please confirm hardware copyright is similar to software copyright int the IT world. More importantly, if one buys a new disc, uses it and then sells it to someone else, does fair use then preclude the right to retain a copy of that material on music server or other archival device for personal use as I have sold the original asset?

      The serious and very real question for anyone who buys any number (and certainly large amounts of CD/SACD/other material) is how reliable are the hard drive schemes in use today in music servers and other backup media? We know in the IT world that redundancy, failover, backup and recovery are simply best practice as things fail.  I don’t see much on Audiogon or elsewhere from people who have taken the ‘music server plunge’ about how they are ensuring they have full backups of everything they load onto their servers and what level of redundancy, offsite storage, etc…is following. I can imagine the ‘worst case’ where 1000s of discs are loaded to a music server, a backup may even be made, and even the original media retained, all in one ‘site’ (our homes) only to have everything wiped out by some unfortunate event (fire, hurricane, etc….). I don’t think there is nearly enough discussion and knowledge out there viz. what we are allowed to do once we buy media and furthermore, what we do with it to protect our investment.

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