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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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:43PM (#21858942)
    These copies are unauthorized!

    However, these copies are not illegal.

    Under fair use, you are allowed to make copies for your personal use, and it is perfectly legal.

    In this case, "unauthorized" is used in the sense of "Britney Spears Unauthorized Biography" instead of "Britney Spears Authorized Biography". Both are perfectly legal.

  • by rdean400 ( 322321 ) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:49PM (#21859000)
    If the judge doesn't go along with their argument, they'll have to shut up about ripping being unauthorized.

    If they get mp3's from ripping ruled to be unauthorized usage, that will just drive another nail in the coffin of CD sales. Consumers will turn to digital download services and completely eschew physical media. Artists will see the dwindling usefulness of the record companies and go independent.

    Either way, the RIAA member companies will lose out. It would be far better for them to compete in the new arena than to use litigation to drive their way of thinking down everyone's throat. If they continue to ignore the cluebat beating them over the head, they'll wind up in the same boat with other organizations that have tried a similar approach (*cough*SCO*cough*).
  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @05:04PM (#21859098)
    When "unauthorized" is automatically equated to "illegal" we have a problem in our society. Are we required to ask for authorization from someone to do everything now?
  • Re:/. retraction? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 30, 2007 @05:08PM (#21859126)
    Perhaps "fair play" is where the RIAA insist that you do not play any of their "products" (sic) at a volume such that it may be heard by anyone else outside a radius of 2 feet of your personal space, as this might be interpreted by some senile old fart^H^H^H^Hjudge as unauthorised sharing.
  • Re:imagine that (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 30, 2007 @05:32PM (#21859338)
    Misleading stories are no stranger to slashdot of course.

    The amazing thing is that we actually have a new story to correct the old?! In nearly 10 years I don't think I've ever seen something so close to an actual retraction on slashdot!
  • by KB3LWJ ( 1210104 ) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @05:45PM (#21859454)

    Here's an interesting quote from one of the legal briefs in the case:

    "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" [Supplemental Brief [], page 15, lines 16-18, emphasis added].

    The phrasing that they used seems to indicate that the MP3 files were authorized until they were placed into the shared folder. Now, I'm not a lawyer, so it's possible that this means absolutely nothing, but it's still an interesting notion.

    What it seems that they are saying is that the MP3's are authorized until used for an illegal purpose (i.e. file-sharing). Amazon's MP3 Music Service TOS [] seems to support this interpretation. It encourages users to make backup copies of MP3's they purchase (which would be authorized); and, if you violate any of the terms (such as infringing upon the copyright of the MP3), your license to use the music terminates, making the MP3 unauthorized. While the music in this case wasn't purchased from Amazon, it seems like the same philosophy is involved.

  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @06:22PM (#21859742)

    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.

    So, the RIAA is allowed to make frivolous statements in court? I remember that the last time (in 1992) I had a conversation with someone at the IRS about my income tax, one of my arguments was rejected on the basis that it was "frivolous" (i.e. completely meaningless), and the person there told me that a "frivolous" income tax filling was subject to a fine ($250, IIRC).

    When you are not a lawyer and try to represent yourself, you are subject to being threatened by a "frivolous" fine, but the RIAA has lawyers enough to know when an argument is completely meaningless from the POV of the law.

  • by stewbacca ( 1033764 ) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @06:39PM (#21859828)
    I'm normally not a paranoid cynic, but I'm actually quite bothered that the RIAA can try to dictate how I organize the files on my personal computer. What I suspect they are doing, by wording it they way they did, is to create as much of an accusatory tone as they can without having to actually prove any illegal activity. It would be one thing to say, "User X seeded Song B to a bittorrent client", but then they'd actually have to prove that, or face libel/slander charges.
  • Re:Shooting in foot (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HTH NE1 ( 675604 ) on Monday December 31, 2007 @04:06PM (#21869234)

    A guy ripped a CD, which is unauthorized but legal for backup purposes according to fair use. However he put it in his shared directory, which is NOT backing up.
    You're letting them get away with their "making available" argument and be able to level charges without any real evidence of a crime taking place.

    Just because it is in a shared directory does not constitute actual sharing. It may just be there for display purposes, a way of showing people what he has, for braggadocio. Until someone tries to download it, no illegal copying takes place (unauthorized !(always)= illegal). And until someone tries, you can't know whether anyone could actually succeed.

    And if such a download is successful, he's still not the one making the illegal copy. His copy is still legal; it's the downloader without whose action a new copy would not have been made making the illegal copy.
  • by ConceptJunkie ( 24823 ) * on Thursday January 03, 2008 @09:23PM (#21904032) Homepage Journal
    First off, you save your silly rant for someone else and for the right context. The article has to do with ripping CDs that you own for your own use, which the RIAA doesn't recognize as valid, but it falls squarely under Fair Use laws. It is not just my opinion that they are wrong on this issue. It is the clear law in the U.S., as confirmed by the courts in the Sony [] case back in 1984.

    Second, I've spent (rough ballpark guess) $15,000 over the past 25 years or so to amass my entirely legal music collection [], including several hundred records, about 1000 CDs and a couple hundred albums from eMusic [] and a couple dozen more on Mindawn [] and Jamendo []. Musicians have made a lot of money off of me and I've gotten more than my money's worth from them.

    Third, I am active in several online communities devoted to progressive rock, and am personal friends (online) with several professional musicians, managers and other people in the business. I've even provided the (modest) cover art for a CD from one of my professional friends, which you can find here []. I promote (though not formally nor professionally) a few groups in particular whenever possible (Spock's Beard [], The Flower Kings [], and The Tangent []) who work for a label [] that is an RIAA member and I have legally purchased all the recordings available from each of those groups. These are exceptional artists who merit much more attention than they get. In fact, I've purchased roughly a third of everything this label has ever released.

    And third, I have created my own music and have shared it freely with others. You can find one of my tracks here []. I can provide a few more upon request and several more if I get off my duff and digitally master them, but honestly I don't think too many people would be interested.

    So in summary, I think this gives me more than the right to express a simple opinion on the RIAA. All I said was that their opinion on the matter of ripping is as irrelevant as my opinion of them is, which is a objectively true and correct statement. Fair Use laws are clearly on the side of those of us who rip our legally acquired and licensed music to our own devices for our own use.

    And finally despite its correctness as a statement of fact, it was clearly and obviously meant to be a joke. Someone here is being illogical and childish, but it surely isn't I. Maybe you should criticize what I am actually saying rather than your completely wrong prejudices. That's not too much to ask, is it?

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford