I Hate Everything About You

The Recording Industry Association of America are seeking damages in a federal case against Jeffrey Howell, who kept a collection of about 2,000 recordings on his PC. The RIAA’s lawyer states that the files Howell made on his computer from legally purchased CDs are “unauthorized copies” of copyrighted recordings.

This is the most ridiculous assertion I’ve ever heard. It effectively means everyone who owns an iPod and added their own mp3s from their own library is breaking copyright law. Even President Bush, who acknowledged not too long ago that he has some Beatles on his iPod, is breaking the law since there are no official Beatles mp3s to purchase through iTunes or similar places online.

Stupid comments like this fans the flame of hatred over the RIAA. I understand the guy had his mp3s in a “shared” folder on his hard drive and that’s what prompted the investigation. However, it doesn’t dismiss their position that “ripping” a CD to another device (computer, iPod, blank CD) is copyright infringement. It’s the same stupid argument they had with recordable CDs a decade ago and recordable blank cassettes a few decades earlier. In fact, I think there is a ruling already that states making copies is fair use.

Obviously, downloading songs from a peer-to-peer network i.e. PirateBay without paying for them is illegal (not sure it’s “wrong” though). But what you play on your own devices with music you’ve paid for should be your own business.

When I purchase a CD or DVD, I am purchasing the content not the medium. I am purchasing the right to listen to the music/watch the movie. Not the disc itself. The disc is the medium and the technology exists that I can move the content to a different medium. It is fair use and any argument the RIAA tries to advocate falls apart.

The RIAA has to change or die. Suing the world isn’t much of a business plan.