RIAA argues against legality of ripped MP3s | iLounge News


RIAA argues against legality of ripped MP3s

In a supplemental brief filed in the case of Atlantic vs. Howell, in which the defendants are being sued for sharing music over KaZaA, attorneys representing the RIAA have argued that music files ripped to computers for personal use, particularly in the MP3 format, are “unauthorized copies.” The brief states: “It is undisputed that Defendant possessed unauthorized copies of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted sound recordings on his computer.  Exhibit B to Plaintiffs’ Complaint is a series of screen shots showing the sound recording and other files found in the KaZaA shared folder on Defendant’s computer on January 30, 2006. Virtually all of the sound recordings on Exhibit B are in the ‘.mp3’ format. Defendant admitted that he converted these sound recordings from their original format to the .mp3 format for his and his wife’s use. The .mp3 format is a ‘compressed format [that] allows for rapid transmission of digital audio files from one computer to another by electronic mail or any other file transfer protocol.’” Previously, in the U.S. Supreme Court, attorneys representing the record companies stated that “it’s perfectly lawful to take a CD that you’ve purchased, upload it onto your computer, put it onto your iPod.” [via Gizmodo]

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So, now I can’t copy MY OWN PERSONAL CD’s to MY OWN PERSONAL computer for MY OWN PERSONAL USE? GRR! I’m so sick of these crybabies!  RIAA just needs to accept that there is NOTHING that they can do to halt people doing what they want with the music that THEY OWN, so stop trying.

And besides, telling people what they can and can’t do with their own CD’s certainly isn’t going to help boost CD sales. (Isn’t that what they’re so upset about in the first place?)

Posted by Matt on December 11, 2007 at 4:29 PM (CST)


If this were the case, then the RIAA should have sued Apple as soon as the iPod came out. At the time, there was no iTunes store nor any other legitimate method of acquiring “authorized” digital song files, therefore the iPod had no possible purpose other than the use of these “illegal” MP3s. The logic just isn’t there.

Posted by Penner on December 11, 2007 at 4:39 PM (CST)


heh. So is it the copying that’s illegal, or the transcoding?

Posted by xf on December 11, 2007 at 4:39 PM (CST)


I’m not sure they’re saying there is a problem with MP3’s, just that the guy put MP3’s in a shared folder where anyone could get them.

Posted by brted on December 11, 2007 at 5:24 PM (CST)


So theoretically, can I give my CD’s back and have my money returned because I am done with them? How does this work? Do we own or lease the music?

Posted by Don Trammell on December 11, 2007 at 5:31 PM (CST)


I love it. These guys/gals won’t be happy till they’ve criminalized every customer and dried up every market! It’s fabulous to watch. Unfortunately, the government seems to be swinging their way and helping with this disaster. That’s a danger to us all.

Posted by Eric Emerick on December 11, 2007 at 6:02 PM (CST)


Have you read the EULA on CDs?  Yeah, neither have I, because there are none!

Posted by Galley on December 11, 2007 at 6:23 PM (CST)


Is this a threat? We’ve been ripping to MP3 for years. How could you go against that much inertia? I hope this doesn’t go anywhere.

Posted by Japester on December 11, 2007 at 7:31 PM (CST)


RIAA weren’t those guys shut down by bittorent?

Posted by Kber45 on December 11, 2007 at 8:05 PM (CST)


According to US Copyright laws, you don’t “own” the music. The creator of that work owns said work. You own a recording.

Similarly, in regards to software, if you buy MS Office, you in no way “own” MS Office. You have purchased the license to install said software on a certain number of machines. That’s the same kind of legal agreement you ignore and hit “Accept” to when you install a new version of iTunes.

This is where the RIAA is trying to go. They claim that the music publishers (EMI, Universal, Bar None, etc., a.k.a. the label) own the music (which is correct), as a result of a contract between the music’s creators and the publisher (where the artist agreed to certain terms and sold the rights to the publisher).

And all you bought was a recording of music which the publisher owns.

All you own is a thin sliver of aluminum lamenated in plastic, with a sticker stuck on top and shoved in a jewel case.

The precedents are there: software license agreements (which came about because of huge pirating issues years ago, and which balooned when CD-ROMs became cheap); recording contracts in the music industry; novellists and their publisher; even magazines buy the rights (usually “one-time rights” or “North American rights,” and so forth) to the things they print. This is where the RIAA is going to look when these things enter into the courtroom, because they very clearly establish precedence in regards to legal use of copyrighted work (look up that phrase, “copyrighted work” or even “work,” in U.S. Copyright laws, and you’ll be surprised).

The current issue (and where RIAA needs to start in their petulant campaign) is that there appears to be no legal use language anywhere in regards to CDs (and tapes, records, etc.). If there is any, it’s in tiny fine print in the back of the CD’s booklet, but even that doesn’t have much to do with rips of CDs.

My two cents.

Posted by Tommy B. on December 11, 2007 at 10:13 PM (CST)


Aren’t they basically being idiots about all of this? they are basically saying that your CD can only be used in a CD player and that the data can not be used in any other way such as on your mp3 player. Therefore since almost no one uses CD players anymore and most people can accept their iPods or mp3 players as their main music source, surely the RIAA is saying “let’s stop making CDs and just sell the music online as that is the only legal way to get it and no idiot would pay twice for the music to have a hard copy and the crappy low bitrate data copy that is available online for a price.” Is this correct?

Posted by Ben on December 11, 2007 at 10:41 PM (CST)


Tommy B. pretty much has it correct, but he fails to mention the generally recognized right to fair use that has existed for a very long time.  While the exact definition of fair use is hard to pin down, it generally allows for the personal copying of a copyrighted work for personal use.  In the days of the record, that meant you could legally make a copy of the record onto a cassette tape and take it with you in a car to listen on the road.  In the day of the CD, we all pretty much agree (and no court my knowledge has disagreed) that fair use means I can rip my CD onto my computer and load it onto my iPod.
As I said, the actual term “fair use” is subject to court interpretation, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find a court that didn’t see things the way I described above.
I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, but the RIAA is pushing for something that goes so far outside the realm of people’s understanding and expectation when they buy a CD that they would be facing some serious backlash, much more than the backlash over the file sharing suits.

Posted by BrettB on December 11, 2007 at 10:43 PM (CST)


There would be no issue if people just used some common sense.  It’s not making the copy, it’s what they did with it.  Making a copy for your own use would go undetected and the owner wouldn’t care.  1 copy sold = 1 user, no harm, no foul.  Selling or giving copies away means 1 copy sold > 1 user = foul.  This isn’t rocket science.  Pay for your music and expect others to do the same and their’s nothing to get sued over.

Posted by Elcoholic on December 12, 2007 at 12:12 AM (CST)


Ya know…if they stopped suing everybody they would have tons of money that they wouldn’t be wasting on legal fee’s to sue 12 year old girls.

Posted by twitzgall on December 12, 2007 at 12:01 PM (CST)


I reviewed the RIAA Brief to the Court in detail referenced in this iLounge article. 

Nowhere does it say or imply as the author has stated… “RIAA have argued that music files ripped to computers for personal use, particularly in the MP3 format, are “unauthorized copies.” (note author’s quotes at the end of this sentence to change the context).

What the RIAA does say is…“Once Defendant converted Plaintiffs’ recording into the compressed .mp3 format and they are in his shared folder, they are no longer the authorized copies distributed by Plaintiffs.”

The words “and they are in his shared folder” are the key to understanding the difference between burning .mp3 files for personal use and burning .mp3 files for unauthorized dissemination.

The RIAA core issue was the placement of those .mp3 files into a KaZaA shared folder which made them “unauthorized” and the dissemination of these unauthorized copies over a peer-to-peer network.

Incidently, the RIAA is alledging unauthorized distribution of 54 songs and asking for $750 in damages for each song, for a total of $40,500. 

Read the case.  Get the facts, then make a judgment. 

I still intend to burn my legally purchased music into iTunes or Windows Media Player for my personal use without fear, at least as it applies to this case.

Posted by DaveJ on December 12, 2007 at 1:46 PM (CST)


The .mp3 format is a ‘compressed format [that] allows for rapid transmission of digital audio files from one computer to another by electronic mail or any other file transfer protocol.’”

Oh, is that what it is? And here I thought it was for the purpose of making it smaller, so more music could be stored on devices such as portable music players, and building virtual libraries on home computers….. but wow was I ever wrong. The whole time, the evildoers created MP3 technology for the sinister purpose of ILLEGALLY distributing across the big, dark and scary internet.

Posted by kloan on December 12, 2007 at 4:19 PM (CST)


We can only hope that the courts do not see this in a way that hurts us.

Posted by Greg Wood on December 12, 2007 at 7:06 PM (CST)


DaveJ: The RIAA is either intentionally attempting to blur the line of what constitutes “copying,” or is inadvertently introducing the concept of “unauthorized copies” into this case. Read this sentence:

“It is undisputed that Defendant possessed unauthorized copies of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted sound recordings on his computer.”

Technically, the sentence is incorrect. Music consumers are not formally authorized or deauthorized by vendors to make copies of their music under specific circumstances. Regardless of many industry attempts to limit users’ ability to copy their CDs, U.S. law provides fair use rights that permit consumers to make copies of those CDs for their own personal use. RIAA officials can’t claim that they have the right to choose the folders people place those files on; all they can stop is the act of copying their works additional times.

The correct way of stating this is that the defendant possessed legal copies of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted sound recordings on his computer, but violated the law in allowing additional copies to be distributed without permission to others using KaZaA. This difference isn’t hair-splitting; it removes the stigma unreasonably associated here with the act of MP3 encoding, which has obviously lawful purposes and has heretofore been protected under U.S. and international law.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz on December 12, 2007 at 7:31 PM (CST)


Ok people. I know we all hate the RIAA. But come on. The whole illegal music downloading has gotten completely out of hand. I don’t think taking to court 12 year old kids and asking them to pay thousands of dollars is the ideal thing to do though.

In my opinion, the whole music industry needs to go deep inside all of this and find out why this is happening.

And another thing. What the record labels need to do is reward people that actually buy the music and not screw them over twice. Now let me explain.
-They need to stop protecting the cds so that they can’t be ripped. I mean, I paid for the damn cd now why can’t I listen to it on my ipod?
-They need to stop forcing itunes to have that annoying “Album Only” thing. Guess what record label. If somebody want only one song from the CD and your forcing them to buy the entire album, they would simply go and download illegally and free that exact same song. It’s that easy. Don’t encourage people even more. (I don’t know for sure if the labels are forcing itunes to do this but this is what I am aware of so feel free to correct me).
-Another thing. A lot of people outside the USA want to use itunes. That’s right. They are willing to pay for their music but you are not letting them. I know that this is because of different copyright laws but at the end of the day its for your own good, so WORK IT OUT.

And last but not least. To all the people coming up with those statistics that labels are losing X amount of album sales because of piracy, just STOP. You have to be kidding me. Are 10 year olds coming up with those statistics. If a song has been downloaded 100000 times illegally, it doesn’t mean that every single person out of those 100000 would have actually paid for it even if it was the only way to get it.

Anyway, thats just my opinion. I might have gone a bit off topic so I am sorry.

Posted by Socrates on December 12, 2007 at 8:48 PM (CST)


Couple quick thoughts:

1) I left out “fair use” precisely because it’s a fuzzy thing currently.

2) The RIAA needs to define their terms better. If I bought music on a CD, did I: a) buy a CD which contained music; or b) buy the music, the distribution medium happening to be via compact disc? If I bought the CD, then I can do what I like with that physical CD, but by no rights may I manipulate its data how I please. If I bought the music (which just happened to be delivered to me via CD), then U.S. legislation needs to be passed regarding that music - who owns which rights to do what with it (the ongoing illustration being a magazine buying one-time publication rights to your short story).

3) Does the RIAA need to go the route of software licenses? That being, you select music via whatever medium it may be (CD, online music store, LP, etc.), and buy the license (or right) to do X, Y, and Z with it (copy it to a backup, transfer it to X number of digital playback devices, etc.). This isn’t going to stop pirating, but it does define legal use (“fair use” is a little girl term - it’s fuzzy and dumb) of what you have paid for, thereby giving the lawyers established recourse, and the courts laws to uphold.

4) The “Album only” thing has, as I see them, four different reasons; NOT merely to prohibit song-at-a-time sale. First, it prohibits song-at-a-time sale (some weirdo artists demand this, which is their right). Second, it allows Apple to charge more than $.99 for a track (say, a track that’s five hours long). Third, it allows Apple to not have to charge less than $.99 for a track (if the track is five seconds long, or it’s a digital extra when you buy the album, such as a digital booklet or whatever other value-added junk it comes with). And, fourth, it allows Apple to offer songs from a compilation (e.g.: movie soundtrack, Best-Of, techno compilation, etc.) where the individual songs’ artists are signed to different labels (which may have different fine print in their contracts with Apple - or no contracts with Apple at all).

5) My question for you (or for the RIAA). I buy a CD, rip a track on to my computer. What is the difference between these three scenarios: a) I put the ripped track into a shared p2p dir on my puter and a thousand people download it from my machine for free; b) I charge those one thousand people a penny for each download; c) I copy the ripped track a thousand times on the same hard drive, put the HD in a box, and bury in my basement forever. You will answer that one of these is clearly theft, and you will prolly say it’s scenario b. Most will also say the same of scenario a. My point is that the laws surrounding all of this are not clear or defined enough to say much about scenario c, when the eaxct same thing is being done to the track in all three scenarios: it’s being digitally duplicated a thousand times.

My two more cents (I’m running our of sense!).

Posted by Tommy B. on December 12, 2007 at 9:52 PM (CST)

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