Download Uproar: Record Industry Goes After Personal Use – — This sort of legal attack will lead to the end of “fair-use” and back up copies of anything. I can seriously see this extended to the copying machine too.

Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

The industrys lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are “unauthorized copies” of copyrighted recordings.

found by Aric Mackey

  1. OvenMaster says:

    I’m beginning to think that there is no level to which the RIAA will not lower themselves in order to get blood from a stone… or cash out of my pocket.

  2. Mr. Lee says:

    To put all of this silly music stuff into perspective, think of it this way; an iPod with capacity for 50,000 songs, fully loaded with legally purchased music from iTunes, would have cost you almost $50,000.

    When an iPod is worth more than a car, well, then you really need to start thinking.

  3. KwadGuy says:

    John…I thought you’d see through this one…

    A) It has been the law for several years now that it is illegal to make digital copies of digital music. That’s right: You can’t legally use your own CD to make mp3s that sit on your own computer. That said, this part of the law is essentially unenforcable, and even the RIAA has said that it understands that and looks the other way.

    B) So how did the guy get caught, and why is the RIAA on his butt? Because he ripped his CDs and put the mp3s in a directory that was open to a P2P service. Whether this was his intent or not is irrelevant. The point is that by doing so, he made his mp3 collection available to others. In other words, he became a seeder/sharer. That’s how the RIAA knew he had the mp3s on his pc, and that’s how he got busted. In the past, in such a case, the RIAA would attempt to show that the files had been shared, and how, and get their pound of flesh that way. But since, in the end, it’s illegal for those mp3s to even exist on his PC, and it’s much easier to prove that they’re there than to demonstrate who shared them, they’re taking the easy route.

    In other words, the crime that is effectively being prosecuted here hasn’t changed, but the method has. It’s kind of like when the government indicted Al Capone for tax evasion. He was a bad guy with a lot of other crimes to his credit, but it was easier to simply get him on tax evasion.

    I do not believe that this particular case means that anyone who has ripped mp3s to their hard drive from CDs they own is gonna be next. As long as you don’t share those mp3s, either intentionally or not, through a p2p service, you’re gonna fly way under the radar. The RIAA won’t catch you, and they won’t even want you.

  4. Mister Catshit says:

    #35, Kwadguy,

    It is my understanding that the Supreme Court has said it is OK to make non commercial back-ups of any data or record. Maybe you might want to re-read Justice Steven’s opinion about “fair use” in Sony v. Universal City Studios. The alternative would be to return any CD / DVD to the manufacturer for a replacement if they became scratched or rendered unusable. Remember, you don’t own the music, only the right to listen to it and if the medium is inferior then they would have to replace inferior medium.

    As for placing them in a directory shouldn’t make him guilty or liable. Anyone that physically enters my home may legally listen to any of my music. This is no different. He is not offering his music to be copied. If you want to copy it then YOU must enter his computer and copy the files. He just doesn’t care if you do copy any files.

    You haven’t shown the MP3s are illegal. Nor has the RIAA. In order to be illegal he would not have had any rights to the music at all. As far as I understand, the RIAA is not even contesting that point.

    There is no CRIME. Copyright infringement is a tort not a crime. Al Capone makes for a pretty story but has no bearing on this scenario.

  5. Glenn E. says:

    All this will result in, is another opportunity for the US Congress to be lobbied into submission, and screw the rest of us over. IOW, it’s the yearly bribe and payoff time for our politicians. The RIAA will wine and dine them plenty. And a few will resist just for show. But I suspect enough might just cave in, at this point to give the RIAA what it wants. And then the RIAA won’t sue anyone for a while, until the heat dies down. Then they’ll be back when the time is right, with their secretly passed law in hand.

  6. Glenn E. says:

    At some point in the near future, the RIAA members are simply going to go to the US Congress and complain, that not only is nobody buying CD anymore. They’re not even illegally downloading and listening to the music they hold rights to. So the industry need a huge cash bailout to stay alive. And isn’t that what Congress does these days. Keep old dinosaur companies and business alive, with their corporate welfare? Aerospace is top of that list.

  7. George says:

    #35, Kwadguy

    I think you summed this up perfectly.

  8. Ubiquitous Talking Head says:

    Logical next step is who in their right mind would make music anymore?

    Uh, maybe the 99.99% of musicians worldwide who are NOT selling enough (or any) of their work to earn a living from it? They benefit from free exposure. It’s only an elite few who stand to lose ANYTHING from free distribution of their product.

  9. Daniel says:

    John you better bring this up on Cranky Geeks or TWIT if your on it this week.

  10. jim h says:

    These intellectual property issues won’t be resolved until they come up in front of judges that have more understanding of digital technology. I’m convinced that many members of Congress voting on these bills, and many judges deciding the cases, don’t even have a clear concept of what a “file” is. And if the RIAA is able to get a case in front of a jury, it only gets worse.

    It will take another generation to sort this out.


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