Thanks, Bill D for a thoughtful post.
I've been thinking lately about how fair a library is. I mean, a book is purchased once, yet literally thousands can take it, read it, make notes from it, maybe even memorize it. Poor sucker that wrote the book only got royalties once. Loser.
It seems to me that if John Denver authorized Cherry Lane Music to produce a book of his songs, with music and guitar chords, that he and they would EXPECT people to buy it, and then actually USE it for its intended purpose: to learn how to play John Denver songs. What are we supposed to do? Sing it to ourselves in a sound proofed bathroom? Even inviting a few friends over for dinner and a sing around is, technically, in violation of copyright laws if we are not supposed to sing copyrighted materials.
Where does the law end? I appreciate Bill's discussion of laws that can be, but are not frequently, enforced. But the fact that they can be enforced makes it illegal, and to many people therefore immoral, to violate.
If the recording industry, and related industries, are on their death bed then hurrah and no tears from me. But the murkiness of the laws still confound the average schmuck like me that just wants to sing some songs and see a few smiles on some faces.