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RIAA Argues That MP3s From CDs Are Unauthorized

kdawson posted about 7 years ago | from the no-fair dept.

The Courts 668

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In an Arizona case against a defendant who has no legal representation, Atlantic v. Howell, the RIAA is now arguing — contrary to its lawyers' statements to the United States Supreme Court in 2005 MGM v. Grokster — that the defendant's ripping of personal MP3 copies onto his computer is a copyright infringement. At page 15 of its brief (PDF) it states the following: 'It is undisputed that Defendant possessed unauthorized copies... Virtually all of the sound recordings... are in the ".mp3" format for his and his wife's use... Once Defendant converted Plaintiffs' recordings into the compressed .mp3 format and they are in his shared folder, they are no longer the authorized copies...'"

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Fair use!!! (4, Insightful)

BWJones (18351) | about 7 years ago | (#21652755)

OK, here is the deal... I just bought over $200 worth of music on CD and I absolutely guarantee that this will be the last music purchase I make from any RIAA backed artist unless they start recognizing fair use. In fact, in the MGM vs Grokster case, the RIAA suggested that iPods have a substantial and legitimate commercial use in contrast to Grokster.

This case appears to be an absolutely clear fair use case. This individual, like hundreds of thousands of others *purchase* music from legal sources and while I just spent the last ten minutes typing out an explanation for why this may be the case, I have realized that we've all heard this ad nauseum. What is it going to take for the shareholders of all these companies to stand up and say enough? What is it going to take before all consumers simply say "enough of this hassle, no more music purchases?" What is it going to take before these people wake up, realize that they need to stop treating their paying customers like criminals? When are they going to realize that rather than litigate against the pirates, they should simply realize that they should compete against them by offering great service for reasonable prices and get rid of all the DRM? There is a reason that music sales are dropping (actually a dozen or so), but if the RIAA and their associated represented companies simply started going back to basics, finding and promoting good talent (there is lots out there) rather than promoting the engineered bands, or what they think should be popular, they could go back to making money. Look, Long Tail economics gives them everything they need to start making more money, even from music in the public domain. Hey, I'd buy music if made available from a huge variety of artists that are currently out of print or have entered the public domain, but are no longer available.

Re:Fair use!!! (3, Insightful)

Typoboy (61087) | about 7 years ago | (#21652789)

I'm not sure what you want to see the shareholders do or think, unless it is perhaps "that money is being wasted on lawsuits" which is probably not a foregone conclusion.

I'd just like to see some alternate distribution mechanisms. The old mp3.com was great, I haven't tried it recently. cdbaby.com feeds into itunes which is great, and seems to be a low barrier to entry as far as physical+online distribution. It's the labels which put money behind promotions in record stores, and presumably, online venues such as itunes.

Re:Fair use!!! (2, Insightful)

Martian_Kyo (1161137) | about 7 years ago | (#21652821)

well said.

I don't think the RIAA behavior should be discussed anymore. Let's start doing something substantial (at least those that think RIAA is acting out of order). Actually there probably are loads activity groups out there that are already doing this, maybe they need (even) more support.

You're *just now* starting to boycott??? (1, Insightful)

capnkr (1153623) | about 7 years ago | (#21652825)

Get with the program! (Seriously!)

It's been +5 years since I bought a CD from a major label, and I know there are many others here who have voted *without* their wallets like I have. (Are you listening, mafIAA??)

I'm surprised that someone with as much exposure to the horror stories as you must have gotten in all your years of /.ing is still buying CD's...

Don't buy things from the music mongers! Support independent artists!!!

Re:You're *just now* starting to boycott??? (1)

BWJones (18351) | about 7 years ago | (#21652861)

Some music is unavailable in any other format, thus why I on occasion still purchase music on CD. However, over the past seven years or so, more and more of my purchases have been direct to the indy label or the artist.

Re:You're *just now* starting to boycott??? (3, Insightful)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | about 7 years ago | (#21652935)

That's hilarious - "It's a travesty! I propose a boycott! Well, unless it means me having to do without whatever I want, in the way I want it, then it's okay."

Are you serious?

Re:You're *just now* starting to boycott??? (4, Insightful)

init100 (915886) | about 7 years ago | (#21653279)

Some people are addicted to their music, and can't live without their occasional fix. Thus, they'll buy music from the RIAA regardless of how much they hate them. To such people, getting a fix is much more important than making a point about the RIAA.

Re:You're *just now* starting to boycott??? (1)

Workaphobia (931620) | about 7 years ago | (#21653215)

I agree that it's a bit ridiculous that the GP is only now starting to realize that a boycott may be warranted - it's a bit late to jump on the bandwagon and brag about it on slashdot.

Ironically, in recent times I find myself purchasing more CDs than ever before, although, for me that translates to approximately one a month, only some of which are mainstream. Still, I'm buying major label albums (not of current music though) partly as a result of developing complex opinions regarding intellectual property law, culture, and the industry. While on one level I can't abide the RIAA's tactics and domination, I appreciate what it means to be an owner of a (copy of a) work and find my selection to be a statement of individuality, mush moreso than I did before I started thinking about IP and free culture.

I guess that's just a long winded way of saying, "I buy mainstream music while despising the establishment, in order to be unique". Sigh. Well, I try to make up for it with independent music. I still love magnatune.com.

Re:Fair use!!! (2, Insightful)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | about 7 years ago | (#21652871)

This case appears to be an absolutely clear fair use case

Sharing MP3s with Kazaa is fair use? That seems rather unlikely.

Re:Fair use!!! (0, Redundant)

Rudd-O (20139) | about 7 years ago | (#21653091)

It's fair in the ethical sense of the word. But in the legal sense, it's not. One more way laws and ethics collide, and ethics loses.

Re:Fair use!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21653219)

What if I record an audio or VHS tape to a friend as I did years ago? What if internet allows a faster sharing than friend-to-friend physical tape-recording? What if a record-business executive gets unemployed because that industry is becoming obsolete and not willing to evolve?

How are they getting us to think that sharing culture means stealing?

Sorry guys, but sharing is not illegal (even if you share using devilish Kazaa).

Re:Fair use!!! (5, Insightful)

IBBoard (1128019) | about 7 years ago | (#21652921)

What is it going to take for the shareholders of all these companies to stand up and say enough?

Erm, maybe when their shares stop making them money? People will invest in all sorts of things and ignore moral/ethical dilemmas, as long as it is making them money. Such is human greed and capitalism.

What is it going to take before all consumers simply say "enough of this hassle, no more music purchases"?

That'll only happen when Joe Public who buys the random, mass-produced crap that makes it into the charts feels he is affected. For the moment it is only the comparative minority who rip and share MP3s en-mass who really worry, and those geeks who keep track of the news who can see where it will end up.

What is it going to take before these people wake up, realize that they need to stop treating their paying customers like criminals?

Maybe when their business model finally bites the dust and some other group using online distribution without DRM is still going strong. Even then it is only a maybe.

When are they going to realize that rather than litigate against the pirates, they should simply realize that they should compete against them by offering great service for reasonable prices and get rid of all the DRM?

Again, it'll cost money to do that. They can sue lots of people for tens of thousands or they can spend millions restructuring and working on a better model. Which one seems better in the corporate world?

Re:Fair use!!! (4, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | about 7 years ago | (#21652981)

That'll only happen when Joe Public who buys the random, mass-produced crap that makes it into the charts feels he is affected.

The RIAA-affiliated labels don't produce only mass-produced crap. The big classical labels, including the ones like DG that have issued low-selling avant-garde records, are members of the RIAA.

Re:Fair use!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21652925)

Abso-friggin-loutely!

The RIAA declared war on their own customers a decade ago. It is the responsible thing to do to pirate music. Fuck the RIAA, fuck the labels. If you like the band, pirate their music and mail a buck to their fan club address; it is more than the record companies will ever give to the artists.

Re:Fair use!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21653045)

It is the responsible thing to do to pirate music. Fuck the RIAA, fuck the labels.

I like your rationalization attempts, but piracy isn't made suddenly "responsible" by means of RIAA acting against their customers. Not buying their music is. Or maybe you bought into the equation 1 pirated song = 1 lost sale..?

If there was no RIAA content piracy, that would be one less channel for advertising and spreading their music, and RIAA would collapse faster due to decreasing recognition by the public (as we know, the old ways of advertising music: radio/TV are also seeing decline).

So, in fact, pirating and sharing RIAA content helps RIAA. If you want to help RIAA, keep pirating.

Re:Fair use!!! (3, Insightful)

ardin,mcallister (924615) | about 7 years ago | (#21653111)

"whatever helps you sleep at night bitch."

I think if you're gonna pirate, don't try and justify it with "oh, I'm doing it for the good of the country" or "well, the riaa sucks". At least admit to yourself that you're doing it because you're a cheap bastard.

I pirate, and its not because I hate the riaa, its because I'm cheap and can't afford to buy all the music I like.

Re:Fair use!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21652965)

OK, here is the deal... I just bought over $200 worth of music on CD and I absolutely guarantee that this will be the last music purchase I make from any RIAA backed artist unless they start recognizing fair use

It's like a drug abstinence cycle, soon enough you'll be in store for the next hit album your heard on MTV or radio or wherever, promising this will be your lastestest RIAA purchase ever.

I just subscribe to music podcasts. They're free, keep me in the loop, and it costs $0.

Re:Fair use!!! (5, Insightful)

Thunderbird1 (39829) | about 7 years ago | (#21652991)

What we are seeing here is a classic case of the death of an obsolete business model. The RIAA is part of the old guard and the whole reason for their existence is the current business model of selling and distributing music. They are fighting for their very existence. There will always be music and musicians and long may they prosper.

"The true triumph of reason is that it enables us to get along with those who do not possess it." Voltaire

Re:Fair use!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21653051)

Why are you writing like this? You're obviously some computer geek and not a person with a training in the "classes cases of the death of an obsolete business model."

Anyway, the RIAA's business is selling music. Hopefully it will always be possible to buy and sell music, because earning money is a primary motivation and enabler for basically all recorded music.

Re:Fair use!!! (5, Insightful)

qzjul (944600) | about 7 years ago | (#21653039)

Part of the problem is the RIAA thinks that fair use isn't fair. And they're bound to be able to change a few people's minds to their side with the way they throw around money; let's hope they don't change too many (more) politicians minds on that before people stand up as you suggest, because by that point it may simply be too late.

Re:Fair use!!! (1)

KZigurs (638781) | about 7 years ago | (#21653103)

...and he shared it afterwards. There is quite a cause for questions to be raised althou summary is not clear in what context they raise the 'authorized' copy issue (btw - implictly acknowledging that such a thing exists!)

RTFA ;)

labeling? (4, Insightful)

m2943 (1140797) | about 7 years ago | (#21653187)

How can you tell whether music is from an artist represented by the RIAA?

Maybe we should ask for a labeling requirement on all music (CD, on-line, radio) indicating whether the music comes from an RIAA artist or not.

Re:Fair use!!! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21653269)

You people are missing the point of the lawyers argument. It is not that this person is not allowed to rip his cds. The operative part of the brief has to do with the "shared folder". Once you share it, that is distribution of copyrighted material that is not your own and that is against the law. And sad to say that without legal representation the defendant is screwed, especially in Arizona.

Wha? (0, Redundant)

futurekill (745161) | about 7 years ago | (#21652761)

Will somebody shut the RIAA down already...they're becoming more criminal then they think the people that are suing are... (How's that for some nifty english)

Re:Wha? (1)

oedneil (871555) | about 7 years ago | (#21652773)

Not too nifty, you didn't finish the sentence. They're becoming more criminal, then they think they people that are suing are... what?

Re:Wha? (1)

futurekill (745161) | about 7 years ago | (#21652793)

"are" as in a state of being...the "are" at the end of the sentence refers back to "criminal"...

Re:Wha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21652841)

Maybe you meant "They are becoming more criminal than they think the people they are suing are.", then ? THAT would make sense.

This! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21652763)

THIS IS MADNESS!

Re:This! (4, Funny)

JorDan Clock (664877) | about 7 years ago | (#21652805)

Madness? This. Is. AMERICA!!

Learn how to summarise (5, Informative)

bigHairyDog (686475) | about 7 years ago | (#21652771)

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. Moreover, Defendant had no authorization to distribute Plaintiffs' copyrighted recordings from his KaZaA shared folder.

In other words, they're complaining about sharing the MP3s, not making them. The fight against corporate copyright bullies will not be helped by intellectual dishonesty and exaggeration.

Fair enough... (5, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 7 years ago | (#21652823)

Except that they are claiming that mp3s outside your shared folder are yours, but they are no longer authorized copies once they enter your shared folder?

That's a step beyond claiming that "making available" is piracy, which is a step beyond what most of us accept as piracy.

I do agree with your assessment, though. Nothing is helped by intellectual dishonesty and exaggeration.

Re:Fair enough... (0, Flamebait)

Jarnin (925269) | about 7 years ago | (#21653023)

Once Defendant converted Plaintiffs' recording into the compressed .mp3 format... they are no longer the authorized copies distributed by Plaintiffs.
Here they are saying that ripping a CD to MP3 format is the creation of an 'unauthorized copy'. Technically, any copy not obtained from the plaintiff is unauthorized because they didn't distribute it.

and they [MP3s] are in his shared folder... Moreover, Defendant had no authorization to distribute Plaintiffs' copyrighted recordings from his KaZaA shared folder.

Here they are saying that this guy had his MP3s in his KaZaa shared folder, which is technically unauthorized distribution.

Re:Fair enough... (2, Funny)

squidinkcalligraphy (558677) | about 7 years ago | (#21653057)

I wonder what would happen if I left a CD in the drive, set up a folder of fifos which are the output of a rip-and-encode program that starts when the fifo is read, then share this folder in kazaa. This should squarely put the blame of copyright infringement on whoever is downloading...

Re:Fair enough... (2, Insightful)

gazbo (517111) | about 7 years ago | (#21653189)

It might just work! After all, their lawyers would be too busy laughing at your idea of a legal defence to get round to actually presenting a case.

Re:Fair enough... (2, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | about 7 years ago | (#21653263)

But the quote 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

and not:

"Once Defendant converted Plaintiffs' recording into the compressed .mp3 format... they are no longer the authorized copies distributed by Plaintiffs."

So they're not saying "Here they are saying that ripping a CD to MP3 format is the creation of an 'unauthorized copy'."

Re:Fair enough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21653125)

There is no exaggeration here. Read the summary of point C:

Defendant possessed unauthorized copies of Plaintiff's copyrighted sound recordings on his computer and actually disseminated such unauthorized copies over the KaZaA peer-to-peer network.


They claim the copies on the defendant's PC were unauthorized, and secondly that defendant tried to make available those copies. So there's two assertions; the first of which I think is false if "fair use" is recognized, and if the defendant owned the original CD's or purchased the MP3's.

Correct (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21653143)

Once they enter your shared folder, you are distributing them. Unless you have the correct license to do this, they are not authorised for this purpose.

Re:Fair enough... (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 7 years ago | (#21653223)

Except that they are claiming that mp3s outside your shared folder are yours, but they are no longer authorized copies once they enter your shared folder?
Copying to make fair use is, well fair use (yes I realize the circularity).
Copying to perform unauthorized distribution to random P2P nodes is not.

Whether it's fair use or not is in a way retroactive - you can't immidiately after the copy is made determine if it's legal or not, it depends on how you use that copy. At the same time, copyright law applies at the time of the copy. So technically if you intended it to be legal, it is legal even if you use it for something that's not. You can't exactly flaunt that though. The RIIA can easily argue that you ripped it for the purpose of putting it in your kazaa folder though, which just isn't fair use.

It makes perfect sense (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | about 7 years ago | (#21653259)

Except that they are claiming that mp3s outside your shared folder are yours, but they are no longer authorized copies once they enter your shared folder?
Fair use (not authorisation) allows you to make copies for personal use. If you are making copies to do something else (such as share on the internet) then fair use doesn't apply and the copies are unauthorized.

Re:Learn how to summarise (5, Interesting)

Typoboy (61087) | about 7 years ago | (#21652835)

There is an 'and' there. But, line 3 of that page says: "It is undisputed that Defendant possessed unauthorized copies of Plaintiffs' copyrighted sound recordings on his computer." and then states that that refers to copies which were made from their original format. So it does seem that they are claiming that possession of mp3s of CDs you own is unauthorized. Unless (and it is a big if) they are saying that possession of mp3s in his shared folder is an unauthorized format. But I can't quite follow that. Page 8 says that space shifting fair use is invalid when it involves distribution to the public. Presumably it could be fair use otherwise?

Re:Learn how to summarise (2, Funny)

doktor-hladnjak (650513) | about 7 years ago | (#21652993)

Unless (and it is a big if) they are saying that possession of mp3s in his shared folder is an unauthorized format. But I can't quite follow that.

Remember, these are RIAA lawyers we're talking about, not techies. What's the same format in different locations to you could be described entirely differently by these guys.

RIAA says: Your MTF is ours, resistance is futile (2, Interesting)

WallaceAndGromit (910755) | about 7 years ago | (#21653121)

Please correct me if I am wrong but...

What is interesting is if you consider the file structure for NTFS, the location of the file in the directory structure is determined by what is essentially metadata stored in the Master File Table (MTF). You can change the location of the mp3 file within the directory structure, without changing any portion of the mp3 file itself, by simply changing the metadata in the MTF. So in essence, the RIAA is arguing they have legal authority over BOTH the mp3 file AND the metadata contained in the MTF on your computer (which determines the location of the file in the directory structure). While I would consider that metadata private information, I can see why RIAA lawyers would have a hard-on for this case. This case seems to have the possibility to expand their power over individuals private information somewhat significantly... "your MTF is ours"

Re:Learn how to summarise (2, Interesting)

angle_slam (623817) | about 7 years ago | (#21652845)

The term "Moreover" suggests that the second statement (not allowed to distribute) is completely separate from the first statement (MP3s are not "authorized copies distributed by Plaintiff").

Re:Learn how to summarise (1)

carpe.cervisiam (900585) | about 7 years ago | (#21652859)

Two separate things going on in that statement.

In the first sentence they are saying that mp3s themselves are an infringement as they are not the "authorized copies distributed by the Plaintiffs."
In the second sentence they are saying that the act of sharing the files via KaZaA is also infringement.

Re:Learn how to summarise (1)

theorbtwo (493) | about 7 years ago | (#21652863)

"moreover" implies that the statement preceding it is true on it's own merits, and that additionally, the statement following it is also true. Nobody here has asserted that the Defendant did nothing wrong, just that the Plaintiffs' assertion that converting to mp3 and sticking them in a particular folder is itself infringement.

I don't think anybody (sane) would claim that actually sharing them is not infringement. Offering to share them is not the same as actually sharing them, however. Quite possibly, offering to share is evidence enough that sharing has taken place, but that's quite another question.

Re:Learn how to summarise (2, Insightful)

WallyDrinkBeer (1136165) | about 7 years ago | (#21652961)

The dude was sharing the files via Kazaa. That's what he'll be prosecuted on.

Of course the RIAA are going to claim this and that, but when it comes down to it this dude will be found to have distributed music via Kazaa.

The summary is just more dishonesty by these stupid slashdot people.

Re:Learn how to summarise (1)

Jarnin (925269) | about 7 years ago | (#21652989)

Uh, no, read it again. The first part of the sentence clearly states that ripping a CD to MP3 format is an infringement because it creates an 'unauthorized' copy that was not distributed by the record companies. Copyright holders are supposed to control the distribution of their works, so this could be seen as circumventing their right to distribute.

Re:Learn how to summarise (2, Informative)

ifakemyadd (1070340) | about 7 years ago | (#21653019)

I agree, and had similar thoughts upon reading the line about sharing, which is different than copying. It is interesting how the post persuades the intent to share was strictly with his wife. I'm not sure how joint property really works in such cases, but if one considers that the two share the physical property of the cd, then wouldn't they be able to share the legally backed up versions as well? Or when they both listen to the cd, does one voilate copyright? Or is it only if they BOTH listen at the same time (which would seem like the only true violation the digital form may gain over the physical one, as far as legal precedent is concerned).

I guess it goes back to that same old, same old, "does enabling copyright infringement constitute the act itself?" If I remember correctly, the recent answer is no. (Something about an old judgment formerly used in favor of the responsibility of large cable companies. Point is I suppose if they ever both listened to the music at the same time, then that's probably infringement, and everything else shouldn't be. But that's just my intuition

And when you accept that much, then you have to actually prove such an act ever occurred ;-P

Re:Learn how to summarise (5, Informative)

Jumperalex (185007) | about 7 years ago | (#21653035)

That is not how I read it and I believe you are being fooled by their deliberate word play. Lets break it down:

"they [the mp3s] are no longer the authorized copies distributed by Plaintiffs"

Don't be fooled by the usage of distributed here. They are not talking about the defendant distributing yet ... that is why the last word is Plaintiffs not Defendants. They are only talking about the copies which he possesses, that happen to be in his shared folder, and claiming that those copies are no longer authorized copies provided by the Plaintiff. In short the only copies authorized are therefore the ones on the CD, and not the ones converted into the compressed .mp3 format.

Now looking at the SECOND part they say:

"Moreover, Defendant had no authorization to distribute Plaintiffs' copyrighted recordings from his KaZaA shared folder."

The key here is first the usage of "Moreover" which is additive as in, 'A'=bad AND 'B'=bad. Not, as you assert, 'A' + 'B' = bad but 'A'bad.

The trick here, IMO is that they crafted this very specifically so as to introduce the idea that the mere production of mp3s is the production of an unauthorized copy. Distribution is also unauthorized. Notice how they didn't say distribution of THOSE mp3s was unauthorized. That is implied from their larger statement that he wasn't allowed to distribute copyrighted recordings regardless of the "authenticity" of the recording. So they have set up two arguments which I will reorder to make it clearer that they are separate:

1) The defendant isn't authorized to distribute copyrighted recordings
2) The defendant was in possession of unauthorized copies of those copyrighted recordings which are unauthorized by the mere fact that they are compressed mp3 copies; regardless of the fact that he owned the CD those copies were generated from.

The end result of this being, the only authorized way to procure and possess "compressed mp3s" would be for them to be distributed by the Plaintiff. That is the implication of the words "they are no longer the authorized copies distributed by Plaintiffs." Because if you buy into that statement it begs the question: how do you get an authorized compressed mp3 version of their copyrighted works.

Re:Learn how to summarise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21653079)

How can you get authorized MP3s of copyrighted works?

Well, www.amazon.com/mp3 of course. Totally authorized, totally in MP3 format.

Of course not ALL music is available in this format, just the few titles that RIAA members want available in MP3 format. Therefore all other MP3 files created are unauthorized.

These guys are fscking nuts and are well overdue for a good cockpunching.

Re:Learn how to summarise (1)

Animaether (411575) | about 7 years ago | (#21653153)

I agree with the parent.. presume one might summarize fair use in this case as "you are authorized to make copies for personal use".

The personal use copies are authorized.

The copies you share with the world are, well, not authorized.

So yes, the legal status of the copies changes depending on what you end up doing with them. Just like a baseball bat is a sports item one moment, then you whack somebody over the head with it and it's a murder weapon the next. Doesn't mean baseball bats will be made illegal.

That said - all that stuff is in legalese.. every single word counts and needs to be scrutinized.. the problem is that due how it's worded, it may end up slowly shifting to "personal use copies are not authorized". But I'm not a lawyer and so forth and so on.

You are invited (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21652777)

to a QQ BBQ sponsored by the RIAA. Enjoy!

unauthorized != illegal (5, Informative)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | about 7 years ago | (#21652785)

They almost certainly were unauthorized. But that doesn't matter, as copyright law does grant you some limited rights to make copies without authorization.

In most jurisdictions these rights would include transferring cd's to mp3's for personal use.

Re:unauthorized != illegal (2, Insightful)

Typoboy (61087) | about 7 years ago | (#21652853)

Very good point. Mod parent up! Unauthorized = not authorized.

So the original summary is misleading: The RIAA did not argue that MP3s from CDs are illegal.

Re:unauthorized != illegal (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | about 7 years ago | (#21652867)

Audible (the online audiobook seller) has an option in it's playback program 'rip to cd using Nero'. That wouldn't survive in a stricter copying environment.

It says you can only do this once, but I haven't noticed any physical restriction when I tested it by doing it twice for one of my books (well, I started it, it's a boring process, so I don't know if it completes the second time round). They don't let you rip to anything but CD, not mp3, but you can rip to CD image and convert straight to mp3, which is what I do.

It's not *totally* clear to me what the legal position of these mp3's is, but so long as Audible make money from me and I don't shove the mp3s on the internet I'm pretty certain we're both ok with this arrangement.

If on the other hand they dropped the rip to CD option, my subscription would be canceled the day I found out, and it'd be back to buying books on CD from amazon.

Re:unauthorized != illegal (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about 7 years ago | (#21652927)

If the law says it's "ok" then it's authorized. Law is the highest authority.

Re:unauthorized != illegal (1)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | about 7 years ago | (#21652967)

> They almost certainly were unauthorized. But that doesn't matter, as copyright law does grant you some limited rights to make copies without authorization.

It looks as though the defendant put the songs into the kaza shared folder with intent to distribute. I think it is the intent that is the copyright infringement rather than the act of backing up the songs.

It might be more helpful of the anti-DRM community to seek out a better example of fair use.

The post is a little misleading in that it suggests that anyone backing up his mp3 collection is in danger of being sued. While this may eventually become true, the presented case does not appear go that far.

Re:unauthorized != illegal (1)

ThreeGigs (239452) | about 7 years ago | (#21653243)

The thinking and legal justification goes like this:

You get what basically amounts to a 44.1 KHz two channel encoded audio file.
If you make an MP3 out of that, you cannot turn that MP3 back into that exact same 44.1 KHz bit pattern. Therefore the MP3 is not a backup. It is "derivative", and can be argued that it doesn't fall under fair useage that allows you to make a backup copy.
If you made just one copy of the CD, you'd likely be completely covered under fair use.
If you made a .wav (.pcm, whatever) file in 44.1 KHz stereo that corresponded to the audio tracks and kept that on a hard drive, you'd still probably be covered under the backup clause, as you could re-create the CD as distributed to you.

Closest analogy I can come up with is modifying GPL source code. If you made changes, you must release the source for those changes because even though the basic functionality or output may not have changed, there are differences.

It's a strange concept, because most people think 'if it sounds the same, it's the same song, right?', even though the bits and bytes that make up the sounds are different.

Thus the MP3s are 'unauthorized' copies.

Something I ran into yesterday on boingboing (2, Interesting)

mrjb (547783) | about 7 years ago | (#21652807)

Clearly the RIAA is scared shitless about new media. Sites such as thesixtyone [thesixtyone.com] give hope though.

Can anyone back this with numbers... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 7 years ago | (#21652849)

I have heard that the RIAA makes more money on ringtones than on any other kind of media.

So yes, they are scared shitless about new media, unless it comes with DRM. Another Slashdot story quoted some MPAA guy (I think), who claimed that the reason they don't want consumers to "space-shift" is so they can charge us for it.

But I don't remember where the second paragraph comes from, exactly, and I can't really confirm the first. You're welcome to try, though.

Re:Can anyone back this with numbers... (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | about 7 years ago | (#21653065)

Was it from here?

Selling My Soul, Ask Me How Much! (1)

Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) | about 7 years ago | (#21653085)

Great site, I've been on it constantly since BoingBoing showed it to me. I have a very broad taste in music, and am addicted to any site with "points" (half the reason I finally got a /. account was the ability to keep track of my comments so I could check how they did), so they basically had me at hello.


That being said, the parent forgot to point-whore himself for the site. May I profit from his mistakes! If any of you decide to sign up for TheSixtyOne, please please list "Become" as your referer.


For those of you who already play around on the site: how legal is it? Are the artists uploading their music, or am I just listening to illegal copies? Or is it, perhaps, legally safe because it is just some weird version of streaming internet radio?

Enforce it to the letter (5, Interesting)

deniable (76198) | about 7 years ago | (#21652811)

Mr RIAA lawyer better not have any audio files on his laptop. Better have the judge make sure he has a note from every rights holder. Check his car too. Got an iPod, Mr. Lawyer? How about your kids? Unauthorized ring-tones on your phone?

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. I'm sure we could find violations by the RIAA and it's members and staff.

Can't touch this? It's discovery time.

Copying for PRIVATE use is copyright infringement? (2, Informative)

mark-t (151149) | about 7 years ago | (#21652843)

Technically, that would mean that simply mentally recalling your experience of a copyrighted presentation is copyright infringement then, as you are reproducing that experience for yourself without authorization.

How the heck can even the RIAA not see how utterly stupid it is to say that private copying is copyright infringement?

I heavily advocate copyright, and I even applaud a lot of the RIAA's attempts to try to crack down on cases where genuine infringement is occurring (ie, in cases where unauthorized copies are being shared or distributed), but this is just plain asinine.

What I would have said if I ran the RIAA... (1)

cliffski (65094) | about 7 years ago | (#21653123)

I'm very pro-copyright, but generally very anti-RIAA, and pro fair-use. Here is how I would have handled it...

"As the RIAA, we have no problem whatsoever with the plaintiff making backup copies of his CD-bought music to mp3 format, in order to preserve his disks, and to enable him to format shift to another medium. We sell music, and if the customer wants to enjoy that music on multiple formats we don't have a problem with that. We want them to enjoy the product.
However, taking those mp3 copies and placing them in a shared folder, so they can be distributed to other people without paying for them is obviously not acceptable to us. The plaintiff must be aware that this music is not offered for free by the copyright holder as they themselves purchased it, so they must be aware that they are infringing our copyright by offering it to other people. They have purchased copies of the music, and we thank them for their custom, but they did not purchase distribution rights, which (if available) would cost them many millions of dollars more..."

Re:What I would have said if I ran the RIAA... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 7 years ago | (#21653195)

I wouldn't have a problem with that... but that's not what they said... they said that making personal copies of songs from a copyrighted CD onto one's computer is infringement, period. Without regard to whether or not it is shared. If they only mean it to apply to material that is being shared or distributed, they should be specific on that front and say so, because as I read it, it seemed that they were saying that private use copying all by itself was infringement, which is so utterly absurd that it defies any attempts at rational description.

Re:What I would have said if I ran the RIAA... (1)

und0 (928711) | about 7 years ago | (#21653285)

Yeah, and in this distorted reality, i want to pay a fair price for a good that has a marginal cost that is basically zero, so i would say, something not too far from zero is a fair price.

And about distribution rights, in private trackers majority strive to keep above unit ratio, someone reach two or three times their ratio, but are a minority, so the vast majority upload at most one copy of the files. On public trackers the sharing ratio is probably even lower than then unit...

If it's put in a shared Kazaa folder (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | about 7 years ago | (#21653275)

Then you can hardly claim the copy is only for private use.

That's not what it says (4, Informative)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | about 7 years ago | (#21652857)

Actually, if you read the document, I think you'll see that it says making MP3s and putting them in the shared folder is unauthorized. It doesn't say it would be unauthorized to make MP3s and put them in a non-shared folder.

Re:That's not what it says (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21652923)

Shared with your household?

Certainly people share CDs in the same house, or listen to the radio together.

If they were talking about sharing with random people on the Internet they would have a valid point.

If this is not considered legal use, then I don't see any reason to buy CDs anymore.

Re:That's not what it says (5, Informative)

EvanED (569694) | about 7 years ago | (#21653097)

If they were talking about sharing with random people on the Internet they would have a valid point.

Gee, I wonder if that was what they were doing:

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. ... 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. Moreover, Defendant had no authorization to distribute Plaintiffs' copyrighted recordings from his KaZaA shared folder.

Each of the 11 sound recordings on Exhibit A to Plaintiffs' Complaint were stored in the .mp3 format in the shared folder on Defendant's computer hard drive, and each of these eleven files were actually disseminated from Defendant's computer. ... In addition, Defendant unlawfully distributed all 54 of Plaintiffs' Sound Recordings by making unauthorized copies of the recordings available to other KaZaA users for download.


Just because /. says it's true doesn't make it so... and this is just another instance of the submitter being either stupid, careless, or actively dishonest. The "shared folder" was Kazaa.

Re:That's not what it says (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21652937)

Sharing the MP3 files on a machine with access to the Internet is clearly the intent to redistribute without the permission of the copyright owner (i.e., the artist, the label). I note that even programs like iTunes don't automatically create a share to the Internet for the folder containing the songs that have been downloaded from iTunes.

Downloading MP3's from a share not authorized by the artist or label is the obvious equivalent of theft (i.e., obtaining the music via a distribution method other than how it was originally distributed by the artist or label). Obviously, if the artist provides the music via download only, then downloading from the artist's authorized download share is legal.

That's how I'm able to understand it, and I have a hard time understanding why others can't.

Re:That's not what it says (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | about 7 years ago | (#21653177)

And what if the artist isn't authorized to share his or her music because it technically belongs to the label and he or she didn't get permission from the label first. Then what?

Re:That's not what it says (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21652947)

That may be, but it doesn't not say that it would be unauthorized to make MP3s and not put them in a non un-un-un-un-shared folder, doesn't it? I didn't think so.

Re:That's not what it says (1)

DeadDecoy (877617) | about 7 years ago | (#21653081)

That's kinda lame. What if you have multiple computers on a wireless setup? Having a shared folder within a local network is so much more convenient than running around everywhere with the god damned CD. I think this particular case is foolish for the RIAA to go after because, even if there was some illegal distribution, it would be very limited compared to a torrent of some album. This is like watching hobos scramble after pennies.

Intentional posting of misleading headlines (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21652883)

Just to get people to respond and say how stupid and misleading the article is ... is getting quite old. But heck it works and people come back for more every day spitting out the same tired responses again and again and again. It really makes me feel good about wanting to continue reading and posting tired articles/responses on slashdot. Keep up the *fine* work guys.

The RIAAs problem is they made ripped copies *avaliable* via a shared folder. It does not say the act of ripping is illegal.

What I did find interesting was the description of MP3 as a perfect copy. Niquist aside MP3 is a lossy format. Songs in MP3 format are most certainly not a perfect copy of the origional work but they don't degrade unless re-encoded which I think was the real point they were trying to make.

This is John C. Dvorak. Cease and Desist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21653075)

This is John C. Dvorak. Cease and Desist immediately !! This is MY MO and MY MO Alone! capisca?

Sofa analogy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21652887)

How long before we see a Sopranos-ripoff about the RIAA?

This is actually good news; assuming it gets the publicity it deserves amongst the average person: it will hopefully hasten the demise of this many-tentacled beast. Tell every average person you know how they are seeking to criminalize their customers and ask them to pass it on. If we all make a concerted effort, pretty soon, everyone will know (six degrees of separation, anyone? - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_degrees_of_separation [wikipedia.org] ) and be free to respond appropriately.

How much longer before other industries follow suit? : You buy a sofa for your living room, then decide to put it in the bedroom instead; a week later you get a summons. Sofas in bedrooms isn't fair use. You're screwed. The sofa-designer lives large, massive coke habit, fifty or sixty people around his house the whole time hands extended, bo-selecta hat, the works. To support their habits, they want $250,000 per sofa, far in excess of any possible real value. Fortunately, the sofa consortium has powerful friends in government... Also, whenever you buy a chair/stool/bean-bag, part of the cost goes towards sofa-tax. Each sofa-purchase is bundled with a free one-month vacation in a federal penitentiary, beginning at the point of delivery.

Crappy analogy but I'm just trying to see the current situation from another angle - it's become far too unreal. One day we'll all wake up from our collective nightmare and the organised criminals running the US by proxy will all have choked on each others' cocks, as suggested by the late Frank Zappa.

Other formats? (1)

$pearhead (1021201) | about 7 years ago | (#21652895)

Seems to me like they're putting a lot of emphasis on the ".mp3 format". Would another format (.ogg or .flac) be ok, then?

MP3s and the Audio Home Recording Act (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21652899)

The Audio Home Recording Act [wikipedia.org] was a reaction by the RIAA to the dangers of Digital Audio Tape (DAT). Basically, the RIAA was worried that DAT would lead to widespread bit-perfect copies of its recordings. In order to prevent that, the RIAA agreed to the use of the Serial Content Management System [wikipedia.org] to regulate DAT. What SCMS did was but in a flag that allowed one to make a bit-perfect copy of a recording. But one could not make a bit-perfect copy of the copy. (You could, of course, convert the copy to analog and make a perfect copy of the converted track.)

Obviously, DAT never took off and SCMS became a dead end. However, look at what the RIAA agreed to: you can make as many imperfect copies (for personal use) as you wanted. What is an MP3 except an imperfect digital copy?

Unfortunately, this almost certainly has no relevance to the MP3 debate because SCMS is specific to DAT. (If it did have relevance, I'm sure someone would have argued it by now.)

What is this "shared folder" of which you speak? (-1, Redundant)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | about 7 years ago | (#21652917)

It's been a while since I used Windows regularly and I'm honestly not quite certain what they're talking about. Is this some folder that allows people outside one's home network to get at the contents via a series of magical fairy tubes? Do things in it automatically become available via some P2P protocol?

I presume that these folks were actively sharing these MP3 files via some means, or there'd be nothing to sue them over.

Re:What is this "shared folder" of which you speak (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21652963)

Meh. My shared folder is /home/foo/.kde/apps/ktorrent or somesuch.

of course (1)

hpavc (129350) | about 7 years ago | (#21652959)

of course they are illegal, albumn tapes and cds are fragile and flawed media. With such a short life span. No way can a rip of such media be legal when a replacement copy or entire media can be had.

Um...September 4: Summary judgement (1)

liquiddark (719647) | about 7 years ago | (#21652997)

Am I crazy, or did that case get decided against Howell already?

The .mp3s are in a *shared* folder. (3, Insightful)

mrpacmanjel (38218) | about 7 years ago | (#21653007)

Now I hate the RIAA as much as the next guy but the following quote:

"...Exhibit B to Plaintiffs' Complaint is a series of screen shots showing the sound recording and other files found in the KaZaA shared folder..."
and
"...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..."

I don't think personal use is the issue - it is the fact he made the recordings potentially public is the problem. I imagine the RIAA will get him on 'unauthorized distribution'.

The guy who did this is pretty stupid - what kind of reaction from the RIAA does he expect?

Pretty much all my music is in some kind of digital form, when I rip cds I certainly don't store them in a sharable folder - it's for my private use.
Then again this is the RIAA this person will probably suffer a ridiculous fine (or jail term?) that can potentially ruin his life (it's only music for christ's sake).

If I knock over someone with my car and kill them I would probably be fined £1000 and incur points on my driving license (or a ban for 12 months).
(Hey it's the old if "it was a car" analogy).

uhm.. (2)

SuperDre (982372) | about 7 years ago | (#21653011)

From what I've read it clearly states that when it is put in his SHARED folder it's copyright infringment.. With SHARED folder meaning, the folder which he shares with a lot of other people (p2p).. So if he didn't put the files in his SHARED folder there wouldn't be any problems...

Re:uhm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21653053)

From what I've read it clearly states that when it is put in his SHARED folder it's copyright infringment.. With SHARED folder meaning, the folder which he shares with a lot of other people (p2p).. So if he didn't put the files in his SHARED folder there wouldn't be any problems...
Why is this being modded down? As far as I can tell from reading the PDF [ilrweb.com] this poster is right. The RIAA isn't arguing that ripping your own CDs for personal use is illegal. This defendant shared his ripped MP3s on Kazaa. The RIAA is arguing that once you share your fair-use MP3s you commit an act of copyright infringement and in doing so they seem to be within their rights.

up next (4, Insightful)

TRRosen (720617) | about 7 years ago | (#21653099)

"once the plaintiff stored the CD's in a unlocked cabinet they were no longer authorized copies"...

Makes you wonder why they haven't gone after libraries for "making available" yet...

Proposal (1)

fluch (126140) | about 7 years ago | (#21653101)

I have the following proposal: without warning anybody of the content Mafia and their lawyers should NOW get searched! And for any unauthorisized MP3 song which gets found they should pay high fines. I am sure no one is without "illegal" MP3 (illegal in their definition for sure)...

Sue Apple (3, Interesting)

iamacat (583406) | about 7 years ago | (#21653129)

I just popped a CD into my drive and iTunes asked me if I want to add it to my music library. Upon clicking yes, the application created mp3 files on my hard drive and shared them with all my coworkers without warning me about making unauthorized copies. I hear that's also the main source of music in most people's iPods. So why not sue Apple rather than going after the small fish?

Ah... you mean Steve Jobs will make a 15 minute reality distortion field speech to the jury and the lawsuit will be over? And one more thing - the precedent will be set that not only format shifting music or anything is fair use but also so is streaming the files to your family or your coworkers. We certainly wouldn't want THAT.

kdawson strikes again (5, Insightful)

Ungulate (146381) | about 7 years ago | (#21653135)

Yet another misleading kdawson post. I haven't had the urge to filter by editor since the JonKatz days, but I think I'm about there again.

Molehill to Mountain Alert (4, Informative)

Stanislav_J (947290) | about 7 years ago | (#21653141)

Unless I can no longer read and correctly understand and interpret English, this is not anything to get excited over. (But most of y'all will, cos otherwise Slashdot would be no fun at all, right?) That one sentence, in context, links the ripping to mp3 format and the "making available" in a shared folder as being one "unauthorized" process. Yes, I would say the sentence is poorly worded and potentially ambiguous, but the intent is clear. If he had ripped the tracks for his own use, and not made them available to others, no one would know or care, and there would be no case here.

Leave it to the denizens of this board, however, to twist bad syntax into something sinister. You would think that we are suddenly in danger of having the mp3 format declared illegal and ripping software impounded. There are plenty of reasons to despise the RIAA, and they are a sufficiently evil organization as it is -- we don't need to paint them as even more of an asshat than they already are.

Clear cut case (4, Insightful)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | about 7 years ago | (#21653159)

FTPDF (From The PDF):

First, Defendant actually distributed the 11 sound recordings listed on Exhibit A to Plaintiffs' Complaint from the KaZaA shared folder on his computer to Plaintiffs' investigator, MediaSentry.

Finally, Defendant acknowledges that he saw evidence of other KaZaA users downloading files from the shared folder on his computer.
Seems pretty clear cut to me. He shared the files in his KaZaA share, and they downloaded some and busted him for it. He even seems to have admitted it.

Though I don't like this:

Second, because online "piracy typically takes place behind closed doors and beyond the watchful eyes of a copyright holder," Warner Bros. Records, Inc. v. Payne, Case No. W-06-CA-051, slip opinion at 7 (W.D. Texas July 17, 2006) (Exhibit B hereto), Plaintiffs should be allowed to prove actual distribution based on circumstantial evidence.
Proof based on circumstantial evidence!?

RIAA - If you stop feeding them they'll go away (5, Insightful)

lusid1 (759898) | about 7 years ago | (#21653173)

I don't think I can make this any simpler: Stop Buying Music from RIAA Members. Its easy, they don't seem to want you to buy their product anyway. Music CDs might or might not play, just like they might or might not infect your PC with rootkits. Legal downloads might or might not play on whatever portable device you have, and they probably wont play on your next one, or your next PC, so what are you spending your money on anyway? Stop Buying Music from RIAA Members.

The RIAA gets its funding from the big labels in addition to these racketeering activities. As SCO has so thoroughly demonstrated, suing your customers is not a sustainable business plan. Cut off the other source of revenue: Music Sales, and they will eventually wither away and die. I am not condoning piracy here, and as a musician its hard to advocate intentionally killing off an industry I've spent a significant part of my life studying, but it simply must be done. It is the only way to rid the planet of what has become a blight on the world. Only then can something better rise up to fill the void. It is a sacrifice we all have to make for the greater good.

Theres a theme here: Stop Buying Music from RIAA Members.

ffs (1)

Healyhatman (1186195) | about 7 years ago | (#21653227)

Someone needs to go around to the RIAA offices and bringeth down the feareth... If I was of half a mind to buy a CD (which I haven't for 5 years) I'd damn sure be ripping that clunky inconvenient bastard into MP3s, and if the RIAA wants to stop me they can suck various parts of my unmentionable anatomy first. Dos anyone else think they say things like this SPECIFICALLY so people don't *buy* the music they "represent" just so they can open up more avenues for lining their own greasy disgusting atheist-version-of-satan-since-I'm-atheist spawned pockets? Ah well, it's all in America anyway got a few years or months til they try their stupidity down here, not that I think it will get very far. If I've gotten any facts wrong then too bad I'm both tired and angry!

Re:ffs (1)

DeeQ (1194763) | about 7 years ago | (#21653235)

Maybe you should read the comments or the article before you post. Its not about ripping the songs into the mp3 format its the fact the guy then put them in his kazaa shared folder.

Nothing to see here. (1)

joaommp (685612) | about 7 years ago | (#21653255)

New lawyer, new rules.
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