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

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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  • Shooting in foot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Matt867 ( 1184557 ) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:39PM (#21858888)
    "so paradoxically, the RIAA might be shooting itself in the foot here." Somehow or another the bullet will wind up in the foot of a consumer.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:45PM (#21858962)
    But is it illegal?
  • They're right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gowen ( 141411 ) <> on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:49PM (#21859004) Homepage Journal
    They're not authorised by the copyright holder.
    Fortunately, you don't need their authorisation, so that's OK.
  • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @05:06PM (#21859108)
    This is a stupid article.

    They ARE unauthorized copies. There really has NEVER been any debate about that. The label didn't specifically authorize them therefore they are unauthorized. ITS THAT SIMPLE.

    That said, the ENTIRE POINT of fair use is to legalize 'unauthorized copies' in limited 'fair use' circumstances. Fair use, by definition, operates on unauthorized copies. You have to make an unauthorized copy in order for fair use to apply. If the copy was authorized you wouldn't need fair use -- because you've got explicit authorization directly from the rights holder.

    The RIAA calling these cd rips unauthorized is about as salient as when they 'over' identify the defendant... if they mention that Jane Doe is a 35 year old woman who works as a bookkeeper, they are not suggesting that being 35 years old, a woman, or a bookkeeper are issues in the case, they are merely identifying the defendant.

    Similiarly identifying the unauthorized songs ripped from CD by the defendant merely identifies the songs in question. The fact that they are 'unauthorized' vs 'authorized' is as irrelevant as the fact they were ripped from CD instead of Sirius/XM-Radio.

    The judge certainly knows this. The lawyers certainly all know this. Maybe the defendant isn't aware, but that's why he should have a lawyer.

    Knee-jerk reactions by bloggers who seize on irrelevant facts without knowing or understanding how copyright works is the real issue here. I propose we have another front page article... "prominent journalists and bloggers somehow don't know making a copy without explicit authorization results in an unauthorized copy, DUH!"
  • by Frater 219 ( 1455 ) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @05:08PM (#21859124) Journal
    I am "unauthorized" to walk around town or drink my coffee. Nobody, certainly not the RIAA, has granted me any permission to do so. However, I also require no authorization. This is the important thing to learn here: when someone says you have no permission to do something, ask yourself whether any permission is needed. You need nobody's permission to exercise your rights. As soon as you accept the lie that you do, you're lost.
  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @05:08PM (#21859134)
    Maybe, but Fox claims to be a professional news organization. Slashdot doesn't, and in fact just takes stories from anybody ... no real journalism involved. Slashdot is also pretty open about that, and doesn't claim to be anything other than what it is. Really, you should be criticizing Fox for being down at Slashdot's level.
  • by darthflo ( 1095225 ) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @05:15PM (#21859202)
    Nah. CD ripped to hd for personal use: unauthorized, legal under fair use doctrine. CD ripped and shared: unauthorize, illegaly redistributed.
  • by fredklein ( 532096 ) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @05:24PM (#21859270)
    unauthorized because they have been placed in the share directory. Here's how it breaks down:

    A CD ripped to your hard drive for personal use: OK.

    What if (thru Windows File Sharing), my hard drive itself is shared?? What about Administrative (C$) shares than many are not aware of?
  • by CajunArson ( 465943 ) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @05:31PM (#21859328) Journal
    Maybe people on Slashdot have a problem when they equate "unauthorized" with "illegal" which they have done countless times in order to make the RIAA look bad. The RIAA is arguing in court filings that it does not "authorize" ripping of CD's.... which is 100% correct... it does NOT authorize you to rip from a CD. However, that is also completely meaningless as well. If I buy a car, the car maker does not "authorize" me to drive the car, paint the car, put gas in the car, etc. etc. etc. So what, authorization is completely irrelevant.
  • by slashdotard ( 835129 ) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @05:37PM (#21859370)
    This is a business that seems to regard it's customers as the enemy. The way it's going, they will eventually start suing anyone just for buying their product.
  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @05:44PM (#21859442) Homepage Journal

    Because the status quo is nothing more than a de facto presumption of legality. At such point as a judge rules that it is legal, that becomes legal precedent. The last thing they want is for format shifting to be ruled fair use, since they have made their living over the decades precisely through reselling the same content in different formats over and over again.

    More to the point, format shifting at least currently is only presumed to be fair use when done by an individual. Depending on how a ruling on format shifting was worded, there's at least the potential that it might make it legal for someone to set up a commercial format shifting service that provides crystal clear digital copies of your worn out phonograph records without paying the RIAA, its members, the composer, artist, or publisher a dime. Nothing would scare a greedy, corrupt cartel like the RIAA more than the risk of format shifting becoming de jure legal in the more general case, as that would mean that they basically would have to make a living entirely by creating new music that is worth listening to, something which they haven't, IMHO, done successfully in a very long time. :-D

  • by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @06:15PM (#21859704)
    What? How are they shooting themselves in the foot?

    Because people want fairness more than they want the letter of the law. To most of us, it seems fair that distributing copies to people in defiance of ownership type rights is unfair. Most juries (in the U. S. at least), would award damages for a case of someone distributing something they don't own the right to distribute. Many, probably most there would approve of criminal charges.
            But juries usually want to be 'fair'. 'Fair' means that it's much more serious to sell copies for substantial profit than to pass them around for 'free'. 'Fair' means that off air recording is either not wrong, or it's a pretty trivial wrong. 'Fair' means they don't want a EULA to be the equivalent of a normal signed paper contract.
            So when the recording industry starts claiming that their rights are being violated by people making legitimate backups, or not buying a second copy to use in the car, or using a VCR for space or time shifting, or lots of other thing, the recording industry starts looking like Darth Vader/Simon Legree/Satan, etc. They come off as anal-compulsive jerks trying to give basically honest people a hard time, rip off little old ladies, tie Nell Fenwick to the tracks, and probably eat live kittens on their days off.
            And the jury is looking for any chance to do what's 'fair' to Baelzebub/Snydley Whiplash/Hannibal Lecter. So, they don't just reject the arguement that ripping is a violation of fair use, they look for excuses to reject the rest of the RIAA's claim as well. Any excuse.
  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @07:06PM (#21860026) Homepage
    > Engadget notes that the difference here is that the RIAA is deliberately describing
    > ripped MP3 backups as 'unauthorized copies' ...

    They are 'unauthorized copies'. So are copies made under fair use. Unauthorized is not a synonym for illegal. It just means that you don't have the copyright owner's permission. However, there are many things you can legally do with a copy without the copyright owner's permission.

    > While there's a pretty good argument for the legality of ripping under the market
    > factor of fair use,...

    You mean under the Audio Home Recording Act exception. "Fair use" is something else entirely (it is, though, an example of something you can legally do without the copyright owner's permission).
  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @07:13PM (#21860090)
    In other words, they've been milking the oldies for so long they can't imagine any other way to make money from music. What happens if I have an old VHS recording that I want to shift to a DVD ... seems to me the same issues would apply. Hell, what if I have a book that I want to convert to an electronic format so I can shift it to my portable reader. The outcome of the RIAA's crusade will have effects well beyond music.
  • If you want to prove that ripping a CD is fair use, you need to test it in court. It is the job of the courts to decide the fine details of law.

    In the UK, it would be called Fair Dealing, and has never been tested in a Court of Law. Therefore the Authorities can assume it is illegal, giving the police powers of arrest for the cassettes in people's cars that they taped from CDs using equipment that they bought in good faith for that purpose. In practice, however, so many people are doing it that nobody gets arrested. The only way it can be useful is as part of a "fishing expedition" where, on the basis of the existence illegally-copied cassettes about a suspect's person, premises or vehicle, a warrant is obtained to search for something more "interesting". By the time it gets to court, the tapes will be conveniently forgotten. This is all deliberate. It's not going to be tested in court. Out of a jury of twelve people, at least eleven of them have at least one home-taped cassette in their car. They aren't going to convict. If they did, the record companies might be happy for a moment; but in the real world, the police would have a field day stopping motorists to search for illegal tapes and there would be uproar. Strikes, rioting in the streets, that sort of thing, and the Government would be forced to intervene and explicitly legalise home taping (and, therefore, by analogy, ripping CDs to MP3s; although this might require another test case and a motion summarily to dismiss on the basis of similarity to an earlier case). If the jury acquit, of course, then home taping is automatically legalised. Either way, the record company fat cats lose! This is why the present situation persists: the Authorities get to feel they have a lever they can use against criminals, and the People get to feel they are doing something deliciously subversive. The only thing that would get in the way of this happy win-win situation would be for the legality of format-shifting to be tested in Court -- and it's the Authorities who control which cases get heard.

    I suspect the situation would be similar in the USA. Declaring a near-universal practice to be criminal would be suicide for any government. Even if it only works out to be the case that format-shifting is legalised in one state, you can bet there will be movements to legalise it in others. The record companies aren't going to like that, so they won't bring a case to court if there's a real possibility that format-shifting could be declared Fair Use as a result.
  • by mi ( 197448 ) <> on Sunday December 30, 2007 @11:06PM (#21861648) Homepage Journal

    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.

    A very good point. Normal backing-up is permitted under "fair use". However, if the directory holding all these "backups" is shared with millions over the Internet:

    As it actually stands the defendant isn't being sued over CD ripping, but for placing files in a shared directory.
    then it is no longer "fair use", and RIAA is right to come guns-a-blazing.
  • by sudog ( 101964 ) on Monday December 31, 2007 @12:10AM (#21862170) Homepage
    Unless the alleged infringer is in Canada, of course.
  • by Workaphobia ( 931620 ) on Monday December 31, 2007 @02:23AM (#21862930) Journal
    That's what made me groan about this article. It confirms that the RIAA isn't actually (necessarily) questioning the legality of ripping, but they are twisting the words and facts as any good lawyer would, to insinuate that there is something immoral about a defendant that rips CDs and takes "unauthorized" actions. I just hope that the jurors in any case where they use that BS implication would be smart enough to see through it, but I'm not optimistic.
  • by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Monday December 31, 2007 @10:39AM (#21865372) Journal
    And why shouldn't we assume it's leagal? We've been recording tapes from pur LPs for decades, and that practice's legality was explicitly spelled out in the Home Recording Act of 1978.

    I see no reason why rupping a CD to MP3 is any different than recording an LP to yape, and neither does anyone else who doesn't work for an RIAA label, or is stupid enough to believe their utter bullshit.


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