Music Industry Sues Man for Ripping His Own CDs

You've probably heard about all the lawsuits the recording industry has been using against music sharing and downloading. Sometimes it seems like the recording industry is on the warpath against their own best potential customers.

Now, imagine the dumbest thing the recording industry could possibly do—that you know even they wouldn't be stupid enough to try. Something, say, like suing somebody for buying music and ripping their own CDs to their computer. They couldn't possibly be that dumb and greedy to try that, right?

Ha, silly you! The Washington Post wrote last week:

In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

The industry's lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings.

I was talking about this news with my wife over lunch yesterday.

"Wait," she said. "You mean that the recording industry says that the hundreds of CDs we bought and ripped are illegal? They want us to buy a digital copy of the music we already own?"

"No," I explained. "They want us to buy three copies of the music we already own. One for the living room, and one for each of our MP3 players.

I suspect the music industry position is that since a court has never held that CD ripping is "fair use", they are going to make the bold claim that it isn't. They are claiming that ripping your own CD is making an illegal copy. If they can get a court to agree with them, then CD ripping will be outlawed.

The stupid thinking (i.e. what the music industry probably believes) is that if ripping is outlawed, the music market will instantly expand by forcing people to purchase digital versions of the music they already have on CD. The actual effect, of course, will be to encourage even more illegal music sharing and less CD buying.

Read the full article here: Download Uproar: Record Industry Goes After Personal Use

1/2 Update: According to Engadget, this story is being misreported, and Howell is being sued over illegal downloading, not ripping. Read their article here: RIAA not suing over CD ripping, still kinda being jerks about it


Comments have been closed for this entry.

that's ridiculous

I don't remember where Jay heard it, but I thought as a CD owner, we were each entitled to one "backup" copy of the music that we legally purchased for our own personal listening. That's the theory we have followed for ripping our cds to mp3s for use on the computer. I should feel bad that the music industry feels it has to take this action, but they've been so money greedy for years, I feel no sympathy for them at all. As it is, they're trying to press the public into spending ungodly amounts of money for what they consider to be music as is.

As a tangent, I have no problem spending $20 for a classical music CD, wherein I know all the movements of a piece. I DO have a problem spending $20 for an album by an artist I like if I don't know all the songs, or at least a good majority of them. I have found that iTunes is a godsend in this regards, because I can buy a single by an artist, and not pay for the crap I don't want. The music industry can bitch all it wants about iTunes, but at least their philosophy of "buy what you want, and not the parts you don't" works for me. :)

it's not a settled issue

The issue still hasn't been settled in court. Here is what Wikipedia currently says:

Although it is legal in the United States to make backup copies of software, the legality of ripping music for personal use without the permission of the copyright holder is controversial. Historically, copying media for personal use was established to be Fair Use under U.S. Copyright by the Supreme Court in the Sony Betamax doctrine. On the other hand, the RIAA, which represents many music copyright holders has maintained that copying rights have not been granted to end users and that Fair Use does not apply.

Here is the reference for that quote: