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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 Denigrate on 12/18/2007 11:40:21 AM , Rating: 2
IPod DID NOT pioneer the rip and carry concept. They merely stole the idea and marketed it better than the original developers.

By Cerberus29 on 12/18/2007 12:34:47 PM , Rating: 2
thats exactly what makes me hate apple. They make lots of people think that they had the first this and the first that.

When if you actually look at it, some other company has had the feature for ages.

Like the iPod video which was supposedly the first video compatible mp3/mp4, which it wasn't.

I am really getting annoyed at the RIAA and the british version, they really need to accept that everything is going digital and that ripping CDs and even sharing them over p2p is never going to stop, ever. As soon as someone brings out a secure new DRM, someone else will break it. By the logic of computers and the way they work you can never really have a 100% secure file/system etc.

I really do think a mass boycott or mass protest is in order to show the RIAA (and british one) that we, the consumers, aren't going to put up with this kind of rubbish. Soon you won't be able to talk at all as you'll be breakig copyright as the words you speak have been used in some artists song and is therefore breaking copyright.

Something needs to be done.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)
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