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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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well, that pretty much does it then.
By maverick85wd on 12/17/2007 7:51:17 PM , Rating: 3
I personally feel bad for the RIAA. Because if they think anyone would buy CDs after telling them they are no longer allowed to rip to their computer and put it on mp3 players, they have officially gone off the deep end. Their whole line of thinking makes me nauseous...

I was in 9th grade when I started using Napster (right about the time it started to get popular) and download to this day. And I really don't feel bad about it. Why, you might ask? Because I also spend more money on CDs than most people I know. It's the best way to make sure you aren't about to go blow 12 dollars on more of the commercial shit record companies are spoon feeding us these days. I buy CDs because I want a high-quality version on my computer and my iPod. If an artist only has one or two decent/good songs, I don't buy their CD because it's obviously crap. I have persisted purchasing CDs to support the artists, but I think for now on I'm just going to borrow music from my friends and rip it because I'm tired of giving these people money. If only more artists would do something similar to Radiohead... if I could download lossless music direct from the artist for a few dollars per album I would never look back.

RE: well, that pretty much does it then.
By 9nails on 12/17/2007 9:36:02 PM , Rating: 3
They think that they license the actual sound waves that music produces, and not just the technological format of the music. It matters not that you're from the Shareware generation and will convert to a sale after you've first tested and enjoy a product. (I applaud you for your honesty however.)

The RIAA wants you to pay for every listening experience you have with music. Even if that experience was crap and you're unsatisfied, they still expect you to pay for it. Satisfaction is not their goal. Getting wealthy from sales is. As far as they're concerned, the consumer shouldn't be educated and should only consume. No prior research or the understanding of value for that product is wanted. Just turn over your money.

By cmdrdredd on 12/17/2007 10:52:31 PM , Rating: 2
They should use the digital medium to make money then like Apple and MS and others do already. Instead of fighting mp3, offer HQ Mp3s to listeners who don't want a CD. IMo Cds are old.

“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” -- Steve Jobs
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