I’m no lawyer, but doesn’t this constitute perjery on the RIAA’s part if they testified to one thing, then stated later they believe something else? What’s next? No more stereo? Have to buy a copy of a song for each ear?

RIAA Says Ripping CDs to Your iPod is NOT Fair Use

It is no secret that the entertainment oligopolists are not happy about space-shifting and format-shifting. But surely ripping your own CDs to your own iPod passes muster, right? In fact, didn’t they admit as much in front of the Supreme Court during the MGM v. Grokster argument last year?

Apparently not.

As part of the on-going DMCA rule-making proceedings, the RIAA and other copyright industry associations submitted a filing that included this gem as part of their argument that space-shifting and format-shifting do not count as noninfringing uses, even when you are talking about making copies of your own CDs:

“Nor does the fact that permission to make a copy in particular circumstances is often or even routinely granted, necessarily establish that the copying is a fair use when the copyright owner withholds that authorization. In this regard, the statement attributed to counsel for copyright owners in the MGM v. Grokster case is simply a statement about authorization, not about fair use.”

For those who may not remember, here’s what Don Verrilli said to the Supreme Court last year:

“The record companies, my clients, have said, for some time now, and it’s been on their website for some time now, that it’s perfectly lawful to take a CD that you’ve purchased, upload it onto your computer, put it onto your iPod.”

If I understand what the RIAA is saying, “perfectly lawful” means “lawful until we change our mind.” So your ability to continue to make copies of your own CDs on your own iPod is entirely a matter of their sufferance. What about all the indie label CDs? Do you have to ask each of them for permission before ripping your CDs? And what about all the major label artists who control their own copyrights? Do we all need to ask them, as well?

P.S.: The same filing also had this to say: “Similarly, creating a back-up copy of a music CD is not a non-infringing use….”



  1. Scott Gant says:

    OK, these guys are just going too far. How long are we going to put up with this crap? Gee…can’t understand why people pirate music.

    I’m waiting for them to just start putting out CD’s that will self destruct 24 hours after you buy them. Or just have it play once and that’s it.

    These guys have had SO much over-the-top profit before all this digital copying that they’re trying so so hard to hang on to their BS jobs. They have to be totally scared to death hearing about artists that want to bypass labels altogether.

    The Sony Rootkit fiasco got the average Joe listener up in arms, so much so that Sony had to back down in a major way. It’s time that average Joe stands up again. And do NOT say that lame argument about “the average joe doesn’t care about this…they will buy whatever the record companies give them”. With the Sony Rootkit, that blows that argument out the door….as everyone said nothing would come of that too when the story first broke.

    Bah…I don’t see the RIAA sticking around forever. But what do I know…obviously not much.

  2. brodes18 says:

    They have gone way over the top because they are control freaks to the endth degree. They have to learn that they can’t control people and that the more they terrorize people the less they buy. They should be sued for this.

  3. paddler says:

    I stopped buying music from RIAA associated record companies years ago. I will only buy directly from an artist’s website or from non RIAA sites.

    I have found incredibly good music from non-RIAA sources that I never would have discovered otherwise. The RIAA music is 90% mindless crap and I can certainly live without owning the other 10%.

    Of course I’m not 14 years old which is where they get their money. (I’m probably being generous with the 10%).

    I believe buying from Itunes still supports the RIAA if that group is under contract to one of their member record companies. Maybe someday the artists will realize who the real enemy is. The RIAA is stealing money from them on every level but especially by driving customers away.

  4. If anyone had predicted anything like this ten years ago we all would have said “ridiculous — can’t happen in the USA”.

    Don’t be too surprised if it becomes seriously illegal to record commercial TV and radio shows in the near future — it’s not a big leap after Congress bans the ripping of CDs.

    Does anybody still believe that if you are not “doing anything wrong” the transformation of America into a corporate police state won’t affect you?

    The merging of government and corporations is a hallmark of the classic fascist state — ask any Italian who lived through the nineteen thirties over there.

    Thanks to John C. for blowing the whistle on this.

  5. bullethead says:

    This is fantastic. Soon noone will buy anything from any RIAA affiliated labels. Me on the other hand, I listen to the net labels, who’s artists already came off the boat realizing they will make no money creating music, so they give it away for free 🙂

    Granted you have to change your musical tastes, from listening to supermodels with good voices back down to the brilliant homebrew musicians. But hey, innovation and persistance of vision do not come without great sacrifice.

  6. gquaglia says:

    “And do NOT say that lame argument about “the average joe doesn’t care about this…they will buy whatever the record companies give them”. With the Sony Rootkit, that blows that argument out the door”

    Don’t count on this. Many still have no clue what a root kit is and don’t know anything about this story. Sure it was in the news, but when they start talking about about computer techno bable about roots and such, many people turn off and go about their simple lives watching American idol and survivor. I agree this is a big problem, but records companies will get away with this as long as the masses are clueless and congress is in their pockets.

  7. RickHap says:

    There are so many great musicians who are non-riaa artists. Check out WholeWheatRadio.org for some great music selections from independent artists.

  8. randmeister says:

    “Gee…can’t understand why people pirate music.”

    The local library has tons of CDs and DVDs to borrow, including classical, books on CD, and popular music, and educational and theatrical movies. Would it be illegal to make a copy of a borrowed CD for my own personal use, in the same way I can make a photocopy of portions of a book for my personal use? Would it be illegal to do the same for a DVD? What if I promised to delete the copy as soon as I was done?

    I was telling my 12-yr-old son about the legalities of copying, personal use, and “sharing with friends”. What I didn’t tell him is my thoughts on the question that if the laws become unfair and restrictive, at what point does breaking the law become civil disobediance? When does a criminal act become noble and just?

    I realize this is not in the same ballpark as the examples of Rosa Parks and MLK, but I, too, have a dream…

  9. Scott Gant says:

    The only thing is, people are not clueless about the Sony Rootkit. All the tech people figured they wouldn’t be interested in the problem and Sony would get off with no problem. But that wasn’t the case.

    Hell, I even heard old ladies calling up this computer show that WGN radio has on every Wednesday night and complaining about how it messed up their computer. And this show is for people that don’t have computers etc etc. I was amazed to see it all over the news and people were upset about it.

    The average people out there are getting more and more tech savvy. You can’t dismiss them offhandedly anymore.

  10. gquaglia says:

    “The average people out there are getting more and more tech savvy. You can’t dismiss them offhandedly anymore.”

    Lets hope so, otherwise we will be stuck with DRM, the DMCA and other nonescense forever.

  11. Screw the RIAA. They’re trying to hold out on their last distribution model, it ain’t working — all they’re doing is pissing off their fans. I haven’t bought a CD in years, and the downloads I do buy come from independents (though I do still buy from iTunes on occassion, I avoid RIAA distributed material on there). If the twits (no popular radio show pun intended) would have embraced and supported the new music revolution model, this would have been a different story. Now they’re breeding generations of new users who hate their service. Great marketing and PR.

  12. Thomas says:

    I wish I could say I’m surprised, but I’m not. DRM technologies are going one direction: pay per viewing/listening. IMO, the best way to combat this problem is substantially narrow the copyright on music to something like two to five years. After that, the producers would be required to lift any DRM restrictions as it would be in the public domain.

  13. Cheapdaddy says:

    When I was in college, back in the days of vinyl, we freely borrowed and copied records even taped off the radio. What did ll this do? It fueled demand for more music than the Pop 40 stations were playing. It even promped some of us to open a record store in a dorm basement that undersold the college bookstore. Coincidently, this was the golden age of record sales.

    Now radio doesn’t play anything older that the Seventies, nor do the store stock much of that older product. Many of us have already bought the vinyl, the cassettes and 8-tracks and even CD’s. Now you car barely buy cassette recorders or even blank tapes. Is it any wonder we copy music to those new fangled ipods? That is if we’re not burned out with it or even have the time to do it.

    The new music? Can’t see buying cussing and bad attitudes to sampled beats. Maybe they’ll sell more when the music improves.

  14. Alex says:

    And they are going to keep me from ripping my CDs how? That train left the station a long time ago. Someone please tell the RIAA that this is the 21st century not the 18th!

    The worst part is that these morons blame the drop off of CD sales on “piracy” and not the way that they have treated their customers. The fact that the RIAA has ripped off its customers and the artists for decades has nothing to do with the collapse of their business in their mind. The RIAA is a parasite that has done nothing but destroy the music industry. They are extinct and they don’t yet realize it. They blame everyone else for the problems they caused.

  15. Rick Pali says:

    “doesn’t this constitute perjery on the RIAA’s part if they testified to one thing, then stated later they believe something else?”

    I do dislike the RIAA intently, but it’s hardly perjery if soneone *believes* something and them changes their mind. People do change their minds…especially when money’s involved.

    The money quote for me is this one:

    “The record companies, my clients, have said, for some time now, and it’s been on their website for some time now, that it’s perfectly lawful to take a CD that you’ve purchased, upload it onto your computer, put it onto your iPod.”

    See, it’s not the record companies’ place , though they do think a lot of themselves, to be handing down edicts on what’s legal and what’s not. They can say anything they please on their website…just as I can, and we both have the same legal standing….namely none. I just realise it and they don’t.

    In the meantime, I’m gathering all of my favourite music before the time comes when it’s locked in a DRM thicket…some I buy, some I don’t, but around here, copying is legal if done for one’s own use. Who knows how long that’ll last.

  16. Lou says:

    To the commies (which seems like everyone) out there:

    If you don’t like someone’s intellectual property stipulations, don’t use/buy/listen to it. End of story.

    We are note talking about orphan medicines, or the secret to world peace, its just music. If I write a song, and say if you wan’t to listen to it you have to hop on one leg (cept’ for handicapped folk), that’s YOUR CHOICE.

    If you want to comment without venom that you think it is a bad business model, fine, but all they are trying to do is figure out how to maximize profits/revenues. From the smallest band, the the largest record companies, that is all they are trying to do, maximize the money they make.

    If they offend you, vote with your wallet, not by stealing from them. There is a difference… witness the people who broke into stores in New Orleans, Katrina Time, to steal food and drink, and others who took TV’s.

    If you think its all relative, and that there are no moral boundries, then we are all doomed.

    What makes me laugh about the folk on this board who always say something negative about companies is that I’m sure every single one of them who ever sold anything major (house, car, ebay), cared about maximizing their profit, not just being fair.

    I wish I had a pithy latin phrase to end this with. Caveat Humans.

  17. GregAllen says:

    Am I wrong? A good “line-in” dub is hard to tell from a digital rip.

    It will be a nuisance but it’s not the end of the world (or piracy!) if we have to start doing analogue dubs again.

    I’m an obsessive sound collector and I use my mini-disk and Total Recorder almost every day, both mostly in analogue-in mode. I then burn a cd and play it for my family or guests.

    They _never_ notice when it’s digital-origin vs. analogue.

    Also, nobody seems to notice when it is dubbed from FM radio, sat dish, cassette tape, streaming internet, old LPs or where ever. If you did a sound-test side-by-side, people could tell the difference but they only care if they like the songs.

    So, if the RIAA really PO’s you.. start snagging audio from other sources. Free music is everywhere. ( As I understand, if it’s for personal use, this is still legal.)

  18. Pat says:

    If it is illegal for me to make a back up copy of my CDs then can I return it to the store for a replacement if it becomes scratched? If not, why not?

    If I purchase a product then there must be some “Fitness of Use” quality to it. If the record company burned a CD using poor quality materials that will not stand up to normal abuse, then it is not fit for use. Since I only paid to hear the music, the CD must be capable of producing that music in a normal manner.

    I can see if fifty thousand people made a claim in Small Claims court for a replacement CD on the same day, the record companies would have to give in. In my state, a response must be filed with the Court within 20 days. No response to the claim automatically wins for the other party.

    At the same time, most states require a lawyer to appear if one party is a company. That would be cost prohibitive. To consolidate all the claims into one Federal case would still require responses to each claim to the Small Claims Court and the person asking for their money back before a Judgment was entered. After a Judgment is entered, then it would have to be treated as an appeal. Some jurisdictions have rules that below a certain amount may not be appealed.

    A class action lawsuit would only enrich the lawyers while the CD owners would get a small discount for their next CD. Legal anarchy.


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