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RIAA Not Suing Over CD Ripping, Still Calling Rips 'Unauthorized' 175

Posted by Zonk
from the so-it's-only-halfway-evil dept.
An Engadget article notes that the Washington Post RIAA article we discussed earlier today may have been poorly phrased. The original article implied that the Association's suit stemmed from the music ripping. As it actually stands the defendant isn't being sued over CD ripping, but for placing files in a shared directory. Engadget notes that the difference here is that the RIAA is deliberately describing ripped MP3 backups as 'unauthorized copies' ... "something it's been doing quietly for a while, but now it looks like the gloves are off. While there's a pretty good argument for the legality of ripping under the market factor of fair use, it's never actually been ruled as such by a judge -- so paradoxically, the RIAA might be shooting itself in the foot here."
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RIAA Not Suing Over CD Ripping, Still Calling Rips 'Unauthorized'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:42PM (#21858930)
    Or am I the only one that remembers when they went before the supreme court they said it was okay to rip from CDs to put songs on their iPods?
  • imagine that (Score:5, Informative)

    by larry bagina (561269) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:42PM (#21858934) Journal

    Comment I posted in a firehose [slashdot.org] story (which took all of 30 seconds to realize the summary was simplistic and wrong):

    More Info

    here [washingtonpost.com] and here [arstechnica.com]

    Looks like the person in question was using Kazaa, which listed his mp3 files, although they weren't actually shared (uhh ... does kazaa publish them if they're not shared?) Media Sentry found them (but didn't actually download them?). He represented himself and lost big time.

  • Nope, try again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by pla (258480) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:42PM (#21858936) Journal
    As it actually stands the defendant isn't being sued over CD ripping, but for 'old-fashioned' song downloading.

    Still wrong.

    They sued him over uploading, or at least, having the files in question in his Kazaa shared folder.

    Yes, they may have "taken the gloves off" regarding their terminology, but this case has the exact same underlying "offense" as the thousands of other RIAA lawsuits we've heard about in the past few years.
  • by crankyspice (63953) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:49PM (#21858992)
    I think, if a judge were ever to rule on the specific question of song ripping, it would be held as a fair use, extending the thinking in RIAA v. Diamond Multimedia (which extended the Audio Home Recording Act to 'space shifting' a track -- copying it from a computer to a handheld, for instance. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=9th&navby=case&no=9856727 [findlaw.com]

    Just because something has a fair use defense, however, does not mean it was authorized. In fact, asserting a fair use defense is a tacit acknowledgement that the copyright holder did not authorize the use, hence the need to rely on the fair use doctrine.

    Finally, even if ripping tracks is a fair use (likely), putting them online for someone else (especially if that someone else is not within the sphere of your private household, going by the text of the AHRA and the legislative record behind it) to download is certainly unauthorized and (per every court that's looked at it, e.g., Napster, Grokster, Aimster, etc) not within the fair use doctrine.

  • Still not accurate (Score:5, Informative)

    by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:49PM (#21858998) Homepage
    What the RIAA said in their court filing was that copies that are ripped and placed in a shared folder are unauthorized copies. They did not say anything about copies that are ripped but not shared.

    This is significant because fair use depends on the purpose of the copying. Copying to put on your portable player would be a totally different situation under a fair use analysis than copying to give away to strangers on the internet.

    At least in this case, they aren't trying to argue that all ripping is illegal--just this defendant's ripping. (And in other cases, they have said that ripping for your portable player is OK).

    I believe that there are similar considerations if a defense under the Audio Home Recording Act, rather than under fair use is considered. The nature of the defendant and the reason for ripping would be relevant as to whether that covers him.

  • by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:50PM (#21859006) Homepage Journal
    Did the person copying them have authorization? No.

    Fortunately for most of us you don't need authorization for fair use purposes as you have the right to make such copies (depends on the law where you are of course).

    However if you are using them for purposes that aren't covered by fair use then the fact they are unauthorized is very relevant as your copying was not permitted by right.

    The RIAA aren't being tricky here, they are stating the plain truth.
  • Zombie News? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:54PM (#21859030)

    Is this the same retread story that's been making the rounds for the last two weeks?

    Short summary: Guy ripped CD and placed MP3 in P2P shared directory. RIAA sues him for "making available" an "unauthorized copy". Media ignores first part and reports that RIAA is suing the guy for simply ripping a CD (how would they know if that's all he did?). Frenzied and completely incorrect stories are reported and posted to slashdot, with hundreds of comments posted by people who can't (or choose not to) read and correctly comprehend the actual events.

    Will somebody please put a bullet in this undead zombie beast of a story? It seems to be submitted every day and the summary is damn near always wrong.

  • Re:What? (Score:2, Informative)

    by larry bagina (561269) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:56PM (#21859050) Journal
    They may have read the article, but the article sucked. If you put any amount of thought into it, you would wonder how the RIAA would randomly pick someone and sue them for ripping CDs for personal use. A google later you'd find out that he was originally identified as a kazaa user, went to court without a lawyer, and lost.
  • Re:/. retraction? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:57PM (#21859058)
    If the RIAA can get people to think rips are "unathorized" copies they will be able to disregard fair play soon.

    "Fair use" I think you mean. They'll have a hard time convincing consumers that it is morally wrong to rip their discs: ripping is a pretty entrenched idea now. People like me that started out on vinyl "ripping" to reel-to-reel will never accept there's a damned thing wrong with that. The only hope they have is getting another rewrite of copyright law pushed through Congress, which is far more likely.

    More and more, I see the RIAA as a major league loose cannon, with repercussions for the studios that I have to believe they haven't fully considered. I know the studios are just biding their time, waiting to see just how much the RIAA can win for them in terms of legal precedent, copyright modifications, and alterations in public attitude towards copyright infringement. Still, I can't help but think this is going to be self-defeating in the long run. I haven't bought any big studio music in twenty five years, and I don't plan to start. They've already lost me as customer, permanently. If they keep going the way they're going (lawsuits, threats and intimidation, high prices, poor quality) they're going to lose more.
  • by yeremein (678037) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @05:25PM (#21859278)
    The following has been removed from the RIAA's website, but the Internet Archive remembers [archive.org]:

    If you choose to take your own CDs and make copies for yourself on your computer or portable music player, that's great. It's your music and we want you to enjoy it at home, at work, in the car and on the jogging trail.
  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @07:06PM (#21860034)
    Fair use is often cited as a reason why people can supposedly do whatever they want with purchased media.

    No, fair use is cited as the reason that people can do what they want with purchased media for their own use (the law actually has many other applications, but that's what is most relevant here.) Not too many people I know, and not many on Slashdot, believe that fair use implies a license to commit copyright infringement on a massive scale, because it doesn't. Whether or not you believe that Fair Use doctrine applies to ripping music for personal use (and that is open to interpretation, I agree), the Audio Home Recording Act explicitly does, so far as I can tell. The RIAA agreed to that in exchange for fees levied upon blank media sales. Now they want to renege on that agreement: the bastards want it both ways. Screw them, and their horses too, and I hope their building falls down on them.

    However, fair use is NOT a law.

    The United States Federal Government would disagree [copyright.gov] with you on that point.

    For your edification, here's the relevant portion:

    Copyright Law of the United States of America and Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code

    107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use40

    Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include --

    (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

    (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

    (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

    (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

    The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.


    So Fair Use is very much the law. Whether it can be construed to mean what we all want it to mean is something entirely different. I'm not a lawyer, but perhaps some actual attorneys could enlighten us as to the the application of Fair Use to personal copies of musical tracks.
  • Re:Shooting in foot (Score:4, Informative)

    by voisine (153062) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @07:17PM (#21860118)
    I'm not sure they're shooting anything. Ripping a CD *is* unauthorized by the copyright holder. Fortunately, copyright law does not require authorization for such things.
  • by cfulmer (3166) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @10:08PM (#21861280) Homepage Journal
    Well, that's not quite right. There is no blanket "personal use" exception in fair use. Other countries have something like that, but it doesn't exist in the US.

    In the Betamax decision, for example, the Supreme Court differentiated between "time-shifting," which it ruled to be a fair use, and "library-building," which was not. Both are personal uses, but one is a fair use and one is not.

    Also, look at Section 1008 of the Audio Home Recording Act, which immunizes certain home audio copying -- you can't immunize what's already non-infringing.

    Now, there are not many court cases around such personal uses because, well, they're personal -- the copyright owner rarely finds out about them, and suing is typically not worth the effort. Instead, they sue manufacturers for contributory infringement, where the manufacturer makes something that others can use to infringe.

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