01 January 2008

Yet Another Way I'm a Scofflaw . . .

From this WaPo article (via Drudge)

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 industry's 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.

I must confess, I have dozens of CDs "illegally" copied on my computer. It should be more like 600-1000, but last time I installed Vista (after one tweak too many in the registry I decided to go with a fresh install) I accidentally installed it on my data drive rather than my root drive and erased all my MP3s. I was planning on re-encoding all my CDs into 320kbps MP3s anyway (disk space isn't much of an issue anymore given the size of hard drive available). Instead of ripping all my discs, I've been using my Rhapsody account and streaming them from their server, or ripping the music industry approved DRM embedded WMV copy that are available for current subscribers.

I'm less of an outlaw than I'd like to be, but one evening I'll go on a ripping spree and fill my hard drive with the "illegal" stuff.

The fact that Congress not only passed a law that had language in it that makes ripping your own CDs for personal use illegal is bad enough. On top of that you have record companies desperate and stupid enough to insist on enforcing this dumb law, and you have a situation where, new consumers will see that if you'll be accused of theft for "stealing" tracks off of CDs you've purchased, then the next step and actually stealing MP3s off the internet will seem much more justifiable (and a lot cheaper). File sharing is theft (sorry kiddies, but it is), and I have no problem with the industry attacking people who upload media (even if I might download the occasional BBC program, I think of it more like 'time-shifting' it's stuff I'd have access to anyway, just a few months early), but when you define all non-authorized use as piracy, then you make everybody pirates.

Plus, did you catch Foxtrot this Sunday?

(guess Bill Amend didn't know when he wrote it that EMI the RIAA would go after folks who copy CDs as well as DVDs on to their portables or computers)


D'oh! I know it's the RIAA filing suit in the article mentioned above, I just let Drudge's pairing of that article with another specifically about EMI cloud my judgement. Seems the new owners expect folks at EMI to follow good business practices, cut waste, and develop artists for global markets. Imagine the nerve!

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