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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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By eye smite on 12/17/2007 10:31:27 PM , Rating: 4
All I can do is sing everytime I see something like this, and let me tell you what it is. Do you remember that old village people song YMCA? You reword it to " It's fun to violate the DEEEEEE M C AAA". Now if someone could come up with some other words for the rest of the song it would be appreciated. I've been violating the dmca since it came out and don't care what they say. I paid for it, it's mine, I'll do what I want with it.

By Proteusza on 12/18/2007 4:25:03 AM , Rating: 3
I hope YMCA isnt copyrighted, otherwise you are going to prison and may be liable for a $1 Billion Billion Dollar fine.

Do you know how hard it is for the record companies to leech off artists so they can buy private islands and customized Boeing 747s? When you lead a life as difficult as they do, you can make jokes about the situation.

By 1078feba on 12/18/2007 10:30:11 AM , Rating: 2
$1 billion billion = $1 kabillion

By Cerberus29 on 12/18/2007 2:18:49 PM , Rating: 2

Thats the funniest thing I've heard in a while.

Really did make me laugh.

By Donkeyshins on 12/18/2007 2:31:28 PM , Rating: 2
Lucky for you, parody is protected speech under 'fair use' laws, so go for it!

"Folks that want porn can buy an Android phone." -- Steve Jobs
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