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Fair use under direct attack in Atlantic v. Howell

In a legal brief filed for Atlantic v. Howell, the RIAA once again stated its distaste for users who copy CDs for personal, private use.

The RIAA wrote that “it is undisputed that Defendant possessed unauthorized copies” – referring to the Howell’s collection of mp3 files made from their own CDs – and noted that “once Defendant converted Plaintiffs' recordings into the compressed .mp3 format and they are in his shared folder, they are no longer the authorized copies.”

The Judge’s question was, “Does the record in this case show that Defendant Howell possessed an ‘unlawful copy’ of the Plaintiff's copyrighted material, and that he actually disseminated that copy to the public?”

Similar sentiments were heard in testimony leading up to the conclusion of Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas, where Sony BMG’s head of litigation equated Fair Use to stealing and testified that copying music for personal use is just “a nice way of saying ‘steals just one copy.’”

Admittedly, the wording in its Atlantic v. Howell brief is vague and its exact message unclear. Judging purely on the statements expressed in its brief for Atlantic v. Howell, opinion seems divided on the true intent: does ripping music to a computer for personal use produce an unlawful copy? Or is the act of placing said music into a shared folder that makes it unlawful? As the RIAA chose to use the word “unauthorized” instead of “unlawful,” interpretation is further complicated; “unauthorized” and “unlawful” have two very different legal definitions, and many think that the RIAA did not even answer the Judge Wake’s question.

The piracy section on the RIAA’s website offers further confusion, with its legal section making no mention of the legalities of “ripping.” The closest analogue to ripping would be directly copying music to a CD-R, which says that while users have “no legal ‘right’” they can generally avoid legal confrontation by making sure said music is only copied for personal use.

An official response from the District Court will likely hinge on the RIAA’s distinction between “unauthorized” and “unlawful,” and whether or not it feels Howell is liable for ripping the CDs themselves, or placing them in a p2p client’s shared folder.

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RE: Yet Again...
By 9nails on 12/17/2007 7:40:05 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you. Even to the point of boycott. But the RIAA holds such a Monopoly on music sales that's it's hard to avoid them. To that extent, I wish the States would challenge the RIAA and break them up as they once challenged Microsoft and American Telephone & Telegraph. Then boycott could be simplified as we target a specific injustice of fair use.

On topic: I certainly don't recall reading any legal-ise on the last CD that I purchased stating that I couldn't rip it. I don't think the RIAssA can enforce their will without any prior agreements. To say that DRM is common knowledge would be a farce.

RE: Yet Again...
By onwisconsin on 12/17/2007 8:48:41 PM , Rating: 2
But (unfortunately) at&t is basically the former AT&T, just a new logo...

(Think Colbert...

RE: Yet Again...
By 9nails on 12/17/2007 9:20:17 PM , Rating: 2
HAHAHA!!! Yes, very nice - quite a funny video clip!

The link didn't work, I guess it got shortened by DailyTech. I found it by searching for "ATT History" at YouTube.

RE: Yet Again...
By nekobawt on 12/19/2007 11:52:11 AM , Rating: 2
try removing the end parenthesis from the link.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser
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