Can I buy music and movies? Should I?
Yes, and yes.
The catch is, you have to realise that you are dealing with an industry with no respect for its customers. It believes you are a thief, and intends to treat you like one. We are dealing with an industry that spends millions of dollars lobbying in favor of the DMCA, and (far worse) CBDTPA.
Contrary to popular belief, there are legitimate uses for copying your movies and music. And though we may have the right to do so now, it's not practically possible. So, there becomes a question of how you can show your support of entertainment, without showing support of the racket of extortionists at the top of its pyramid.
I propose a modest (and perfectly practical) approach: Don't buy your discs (and whenever I say discs, this applies to all media, including tapes and flash roms, etc) new. Never buy a new disc unless the price is lower than that of the used counterpart (rare, but it does happen).
Not comfortable building your library from hand-me-downs? I've thought carefully about it and have come up with three reasons this is a great idea.
First of all, the used dealers do not pay royalties (as far as I know) to the production studios for the copies they sell. And if they do, then these royalties are obviously lower than what would be paid for a new copy. When in doubt, deal with individual sellers, via ebay or the amazon reseller program. These individuals most certainly do not pay royalties to studios.
Second, there is the consideration that these used copies are vastly cheaper than their shrink-wrapped counterparts. Buying 5 used DVDs costs (on average) $30 less than buying 5 new ones. With that kind of money, you can buy 2 (sometimes 3) more discs.
Finally, think for a second. You want new titles in your library... why? The second you break that shrink wrap, you no longer have a new copy of that product. That copy becomes *used*. So if you buy the new copy, you're paying $5-6 more (on average) for the "privilege" of peeling plastic wrap. The end product is what you would have gotten if you had bought it used in the first place.
Now, I like to imagine that I'm practical-minded. And this much is pretty obvious: If we all did this, there would be no used copies available of new movies. However, realistically, not everybody is going to do this. There are lots of used copies for the taking, and will be for quite some time.
And if those are the copies we buy, then we're sending a dual message to Hollywood (and to its little brothers) that we are in favor of entertainment, and we are willing to pay for it. But we are not going to support the way of life they so desperately seek to impose on us.