The following was sent out by Garry Margolis. Does anyone know what
is really going on here?
RIAA Still Thinks MP3s Are a Crime, Despite Post's False Correction
of File Sharing Column -- Updated
By Ryan Singel January 08, 2008 | 1:43:49 Pm
Following a crusade on behalf of the Recording Industry Association
of America by News.com journalist Greg Sandoval, the Washington Post
posted a correction to a column about a file sharing lawsuit which
was misleading headlined "Download Uproar: Record Industry Goes After
Unfortunately, the correction is actually wrong:
A Dec. 30 Style & Arts column incorrectly said that the recording
industry "maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally
purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer." [...]
In fact, the RIAA does not recognize that you have a legal right
under the Fair Use doctrine to rip your CDs into MP3s to listen to
them on your computer or digital audio player.
When asked point blank today if the RIAA believes it is legal to make
MP3s, spokeswoman Liz Kennedy refused to answer the question and
instead sent this boilerplate text from the RIAA's anti-piracy website:
[T]here's no legal "right" to copy the copyrighted music on a CD onto
a CD-R. However, burning a copy of CD onto a CD-R, or transferring a
copy onto your computer hard drive or your portable music player,
won't usually raise concerns so long as:
The copy is made from an authorized original CD that you legitimately own
The copy is just for your personal use.
The RIAA has not and will not say that ripping MP3s for personal use
from a lawfully purchased CD is legal, despite Sandoval's lobbying
for the group.
UPDATE: Sandoval disagrees strongly with Threat Level.
We're going to have to disagree. I don't want to get into a
blow-by-blow with you, but the Post story was wrong. I was hardly the
only reporter to write that.
As we've noted here at Threat Level, the RIAA's court statements and
along with statements on its own web site make it clear, the trade
organization does not believe that individuals have the legal right
to make digital audio files for their own use from copyrighted media
they legally purchased.
And as David Kravets pointed out here, the RIAA's lawyer used that
argument -- that individuals don't even have the right to make MP3s
-- to persuade a jury to levy exorbitant fines on file sharer Jammie
Thomas. The judge told the jury to consider that simply offering
files for download constituted copyright infringement -- the RIAA
didn't have to prove anyone actually downloaded the files.
But it wasn't clear until after the testimony whether the judge would
require proof that someone actually downloaded the songs she made
available on Kazaa. So the RIAA's lawyer engaged in a scorched earth
campaign, argumentatively asking Thomas if she had gotten permission
to simply rip the songs.
Before knowing whether the judge would enforce a burden of proof the
RIAA couldn't meet -- they had no proof anyone actually downloaded
songs from Thomas, the RIAA's lawyer was building a case to have
Thomas found liable for simply ripping songs without permission.
That's why the Sony executive said ripping a song was the same as
stealing one, though now the RIAA finds it convenient to say she
didn't understand the question.
Sandoval, whose reporting I usually respect, should be embarrassed
for carrying the water for the organization that crippled Digital
Audio Tape recorders and tried to sue digital audio players out of
existence. In the latter case, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
found that a MP3 player that moved music from a hard drive to the
player was space-shifting - a "paradigmnatic non-commercial personal
use entirely consistent with the the purposes of the [Audio Home
The problem with Marc Fisher's column was that it unfortunately left
the impression that the RIAA was suing a guy in Arizona for ripping
MP3s of music he bought, when the suit is actually about him
distributing the MP3s. But the filing at issue in the suit was
characterized fairly and accurately by Fisher.
Any correction to it should have simply noted that while the RIAA
does believe that it is illegal for Americans to make digital music
files from legally purchased CDs, they have not sued anyone for doing
so in absence of a belief that person shared such files on the internet.
So, to sum up, the RIAA does believe that a majority of American
music buyers are thieving criminals, but it's not going to sue anyone
over ripping MP3s because) a) it's not really a big deal to them
anymore b) there's no real way to find out and/or c) it would be
terrible publicity to sue someone for using an iPod.
Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
Aurora, Ontario, Canada (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX
Detailed contact information: http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.