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Print 114 comment(s) - last by Christopher1.. on Dec 24 at 8:25 PM

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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By JoshuaBuss on 12/17/2007 8:54:46 PM , Rating: 0
i doubt that's true unless you're watching your DVDs with your friends out on the street.


By Christopher1 on 12/18/2007 8:29:13 AM , Rating: 5
Actually, it is true. Don't you remember the teachers who were sued for showing a nature movie in their classrooms 14 years ago? That happened to my teacher, and I was NOT happy about it at all when I heard that had happened to her.

We need to expand fair use to say that public performances of things ARE legal unless (and this is the catch) you are charging admission of some kind of see the movie, hear the music, etc.

Absent that 'pay to watch/hear'..... it should be legal.


By Spivonious on 12/18/2007 10:55:24 AM , Rating: 4
Ah, but your teacher's case is very clearly supported under the Fair Use clause, as it was purely educational.


By Christopher1 on 12/24/2007 8:25:46 PM , Rating: 2
Didn't get her out of it. She brought that up in court, and still got socked with a 1200 dollar judgement against her, because the judge didn't see that part of the law.

The judges in this country cannot know every single bit of every single law that is on the books.... that is why I say that laws should say what is PERMITTED, instead of what is illegal.... that would be shorter and more to the point in most cases.


"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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