RIAA goes after personal use; claims ripping music CDs you own is piracy

“Despite more than 20,000 lawsuits filed against music fans in the years since they started finding free tunes online rather than buying CDs from record companies, the recording industry has utterly failed to halt the decline of the record album or the rise of digital music sharing,” Marc Fisher reports for The Washington Post.

MacDailyNews Take: Let’s be fair here: “finding free songs online” is a really nice way of phrasing “stealing” (unless you’re talking about relatively obscure indies or the odd promotional track).

Fisher continues, “In an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.”

“The industry’s lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are “unauthorized copies” of copyrighted recordings,” Fisher reports.

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “neo” for the heads up.]

If they ever succeed in getting some judge to say that making a personal copy is illegal, if, indeed, that is what the RIAA is seeking, then we will never buy another bit of music again. The operative word being “buy.”

We want to do the right thing. We want to be able to buy reasonably-priced, DRM-free music online. But, the RIAA seems to continually want to get in the way and, if they’re going after personal copies, they’re going way too far.

This much is clear: they can’t sue everybody. Not even close. The RIAA absolutely hates when people do the math, which is why we love to do it: In the last 10 years or so, the RIAA has brought 20,000 cases to court. That’s 2,000 cases per year on average. Divide that by however many tens of millions of downloaders there are in the U.S. alone and you’ll find that he odds of getting sued by the RIAA are amazingly long. You have a better chance of dating a supermodel than of being sued by the RIAA.


  1. I guess the RIAA wants us to buy on line where the music is already electronic! Since their parent company is the music companies and they are going DRM free, the future must be electronic downloads.

    Actually, I wonder if the RIAA is getting desparate since DRM seems to be going away at the source???

    Just a thought.

  2. I was dating a super model. Then she started downloading music illegally, and I had to end it. She said I was leading an unhealthy lifestyle. I said she was taking unhealthy risks with her music. Such a tragedy. Now she is with some guy in a trailer park. Oh well… ya win some, and you lose some.

  3. I don’t agree that once I have purchased something I shouldn’t have the ability to enjoy it anyway I can. I do agree the music I have ripped to my library be not available to bit torrent surfers.

    MDN… You agree with buying music and not downloading it free. But, whenever there is a comment regarding movies or TV shows you are ok and even suggest bit torrent.

    Let’s be fair. The boon of these industries is bit torrent. Stealing is stealing. Kids today have a perception that Music, Videos, Games are all free because they can find them on the net. This is a serious flaw of society today.

    How many people will scorn a child for stealing a pack of gum meanwhile sitting and watching superbowl with friends on a stolen satellite dish. Somehow they can justify it to friends and children.

    Reality check people… You are stealing the same as the guy that robs a convenience store. It may be more polite but it is the same in the end.

    I agree that the RIAA needs to strengthen their position when it comes to Music stealing. But, they should be targeting the people that have thousands of pieces of stolen content and have never bought a thing. They should go after sites like Limewire and others before worrying about the individual.

    Napster is a classic example of the industry fighting back. It is now reduced to a also ran music service that no one has time for or interest in.

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