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RIAA says copying your own CDs is illegal

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The Recording Industry a**. of America (RIAA) has began a legal spat with a man who copied CDs he had bought onto his computer.

Jeffery Howell of Scottsdale, Arizon has taken his case to court after he received a letter from the RIAA, reports the Washington Post.

The RIAA, which lobbies on behalf of a music industry hammered by tumbling sales as fans increasingly turn to free downloads and file sharing for their listening pleasure, insists that it is illegal for someone who has legally bought a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

And, it seems that Howell is the latest individual the RIAA has singled out for special treatment in its legal pantomime.

RIAA lawyer Ira Schwartz argued in a lawsuit brief filed earlier this month that the 2,000 or so MP3 files Howell created were "unauthorised copies" of copyrighted music.

So far it is unclear as to how and why Howell was targeted by the RIAA. There doesn't seem to be any suggestion that the MP3s were made available to all comers.

On its website the RIAA states: "If you make unauthorised copies of copyrighted music recordings, you're stealing. You're breaking the law and you could be held legally liable for thousands of dollars in damages."........

Full story: TheRegister.co.uk

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you may have this story confused with Jammie Thomas was who ordered to pay $220,000 to the big record companies a few months ago. That's $9,250 for each of 24 songs she was accused of sharing online. apparently the above law suit is based on this...

"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 couldn't believe it when I read that," says Ray Beckerman, a New York lawyer who represents six clients who have been sued by the RIAA. "The basic principle in the law is that you have to distribute actual physical copies to be guilty of violating copyright. But recently, the industry has been going around saying that even a personal copy on your computer is a violation."

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Despite more than 20,000 lawsuits filed against music fans in the years since they started finding free tunes online rather than buying CDs from record companies, the recording industry has utterly failed to halt the decline of the record album or the rise of digital music sharing.

Still, hardly a month goes by without a news release from the industry's lobby, the Recording Industry Association of America, touting a new wave of letters to college students and others demanding a settlement payment and threatening a legal battle.

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.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte...7122800693.html

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One person commented on the article saying, "The suit was filed for sharing, the brief also argued that ripped CDs were also illegal. The headline is inaccurate. "

Though they say you own the cd itself, the media (music, etc) is merely licensed to you. But that may not be entirely accurate if you look at this article. And the article on ripping is definitely interesting.

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From what I've read, it is legal to make a backup copy.

Also, this was interesting:

"Okay, so we've done some digging into the RIAA's lawsuit against Jeffery Howell,

in which the industry is claiming that ripped MP3s are "unauthorized copies," and it turns out that Jeffery isn't actually being sued for ripping CDs, like the Washington Post and several other sources have reported, but for plain old illegal downloading. As we're all unfortunately aware, that's pretty standard stuff; the big change from previous downloading cases is the RIAA's newfound aggressiveness in calling MP3s ripped from legally owned CDs "unauthorized copies" -- something it's been doing quietly for a while, but now it looks like the gloves are off. While there's a pretty good argument for the legality of ripping under the market factor of fair use, it's never actually been ruled as such by a judge -- so paradoxically, the RIAA might be shooting itself in the foot here, because a judge wouldn't ever rule on it unless they argue that it's illegal. Looks like someone may end up being too clever for their own good, eh?"

Source: Engadget

Edit:

Digging deeper, this is great!

However, in oral arguments before the Supreme Court in MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., Don Verrilli, representing MGM stated:

"And let me clarify something I think is unclear from the amicus briefs. 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. There is a very, very significant lawful commercial use for that device, going forward."

Source: Supreme Court US

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If this even went through, the RIAA would get in a lot of trouble with Microsoft, Apple, Creative and many other companies who have portable mp3 players and rely on being able to transfer the media from cd to mp3 onto their mp3 players. Zune, iPod, even cell phones all can play mp3s to some extent.

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