First, I'd like to deal with the ethical question. Is copying CDs stealing? Stealing is definately wrong, but copying a CD is different than stealing. First you are not taking anyone's property. You are creating a duplicate of it. Technology has really changed the way things work. It's like having a relicator from Star Trek, except this one only works with CDs, DVDs, and in a sense books. If anything, copying a CD is copyright infringement, and I don't think that it is clear cut whether copyright infringement is wrong in all cases.
As Christians, we are supposed to submit to our rulers, and I would say this means following the law. (check out 1 Pt 2.13-17) Now, I don't mean that we should follow unjust laws. You shouldn't follow a law if it causes you to sin, but we're not dealing with that here. If in fact, making backups of CDs is copyright infringement, then perhaps we might want to avoid it. But is it even copyright infringement?
I am certain that the RIAA would say is not legal to keep your backups. The RIAA does not want you making backups in the first place. In my opinion they are not part of the discussion. They cannot be reasoned with. The RIAA represent the labels' interests at best, and not the artists'. If you have some time, read Courtney Love's eye-opening letter.
Where does copyright come from? We don't hear about it much in history. I'm not a historian, but I don't remember the classic artists having to deal with it at all. In the U.S., copyright was created by Federal law, authorized by The Constitution:
The Congress shall have Power [. . .] To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.
Article I, Section 8, Clause 8
Copyright was created to foster creativity and andvancements in the arts and science. That is important to keep in mind. I don't know that the current business climate of the music industry fosters creativity.
One thing that I found out with selling my CDs is that sharing music really builds interest in it. It wasn't until I started digging through my collection, and ripping everything that I started listening to it again. Lending CDs to friends get me excited about the bands. I just bought two new CDs in the course of listing mine.
Something has to change. Perhaps the music industry won't get as much money as it has in the past, and that might not be a bad thing. If the only people left creating music are those who really love doing it, there might be more great music out there. Good music does not have to come from the labels. In most cases it doesn't. It is just discovered by them. The Decemberists had several great albums out before they were, "discovered."
I don't know the answers to all these questions. What do you think about copying, sharing, and backing up? Tell me in the comments. I'd really like to know.
Oh, and if you want to see what CDs and books I have left, check out my Amazon shop.