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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 marvdmartian on 12/19/2007 12:03:52 PM , Rating: 2
Wow. Nothing against you personally, but what sort of crappy ripping software are you using??

1. My software has settings, where I determine where the end result (my ripped mp3 file) ends up. In ~8 years of ripping music from my cd's, it has always gone where I told it to go, not to any default location.

2. My p2p software, if I were foolish enough to want to share music or videos (internet suicide these days, imho), also has settings, which allow me to determine which folder or folders I want to share.......and no others.

3. If you're so foolish to rip your music to your shared folder, and expect anyone with any knowledge about computers to believe that you did it mistakenly, and weren't aware of the fact that you were sharing it, then you deserve to lose whatever amount of money the court later decides you owe the RIAA.

Bottom line........if you share your music, you're breaking the law. If you're breaking the law, and aren't willing to accept the penalty, then you shouldn't be taking the risk. This guy was dead wrong, and there's really no defense against what he did.

'Nuff said.


By mindless1 on 12/21/2007 5:26:33 AM , Rating: 2
You started out good then showed your clear bias.

No, the guy wasn't "dead wrong". Law is not about right or wrong, it's about innocent or guilty. Always has been.

Basically you already had a bias in your mind and deliberately argued towards it. What a shame you go out of your way to be a hater, when the courts were already taking care of the legal issue without any further hate from us necessary, nor serving any particular purpose at all. It's kinda like you want an excuse to hate.

BTW there is a defense against what he did, which is his reason for doing it. What there is not, is a defense against the CHARGE when proven true.


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