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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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RIAA - dude... not cool
By scrollocking on 12/18/2007 11:27:43 AM , Rating: 2
I think the good people here have already put up the obvious reasons why your logic is faulty.

Here's my humble 2 cents - sharing creates potential new customers. Believe it or not, people are dynamic entities that can become interested in new things. Sure, we all can try out new genre of music by buying random CDs or going to random concerts. In reality, I doubt many people would be willing to invest so much with our modern life style. Given the state of today's music, it might not be a bad idea to allow people to "branch out" versus loosing interest all together.

I myself have been introduced to couple new artists/bands that I probably would never know thanks to itune's "free of the day" thing. And yes, I actually bought a CD from those groups. No, not the compressed stuff that you re-resale...

Which brings me to another point -> SOUND QUALITY. It's bad enough that we're still stuck with Cd-quality @ 2 channels for the past 2 decades. All these compression stuff, while cool and all, is taking a step BACK in quality. I've never bought a compressed track and I never will, but I sure have paid for more than a few CDs. Hell, I've even tried to go for DVD-audio. For example, I actually bought the DVD-A of Supernatural AFTER I already bought the CD... am I crazy?! Nope - it was an excellent purchase. And I'd buy more if the stuff is actually available. Case in point - my local best buy recently canned the entire DVD-audio section. Nice!

And please RIAA... wake up. You'll NEVER win against people who want to pirate by alienating your entire customer base. You do NOT want to turn them into more pirates. Seriously, you retards need to learn from the tobacco industry. They got their customer base so hooked that they GOT sued by the government... that should be your goal!

Oh and also... it's not written in stone that the CD album business model is the RIGHT way. It's not written in stone that RIAA should exist. It's not even written in stone that we HAVE to pay for music. We pay because we want to support the artists and hopefully result in more good music, not because it's in our DNA or the bible says so. If we don't pay, no one would go into making music, and then no music for all. It's supply and demand. We live in a free society with capitalism and all that crap. So, if somehow you (RIAA) dies or get eliminated by social evolution, I am sure the artists will find a way to survive. You're like the dinosaurs staring up at that damn meteor, except you're not as cool and no one will want to genetically revive you in a deadly amusement park.

Actually, I'd pay good money to go to a park with cloned RIAA people... talk about target practice :)

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh
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