Uh, Hello, Fair Use?

More absurd legal theories from the RIAA:

an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has
fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal
fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one
step further: 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

"I couldn't believe it when I read that," says Ray Beckerman, a New
York lawyer who represents six clients who have been sued by the RIAA.
"The basic principle in the law is that you have to distribute actual
physical copies to be guilty of violating copyright. But recently, the
industry has been going around saying that even a personal copy on your
computer is a violation."

I guess I am guilty too, as I have ripped all 400 of my CD's twice to computers, once in MP3 format for my iPod and once in FLAC format for my home audio system.  All for my own, personal, fair use, because I prefer random access memory over 400 physical discs in boxes as a storage medium for my music.  I used to just listen to four or five CDs at a time, and rotate them for a month until I got up the energy to change them out.  Now, I listen to much more of my own music now that it is in a more accessible format.


  1. Korgmeister:

    That's it, I'm calling shenanigans on the entire record industry for this. If they want to act like a bunch of con-artists with a "private property for me, but not for thee" attitude, I say anything that can be done to hasten their bankruptcy is fair game.

    Companies need to be taught some brutal lessons that they can make profits, or they can disrespect the fundamental institutions of capitalism, but they damn well can't do both.

  2. DngrMse:

    The RIAA does not allege, at least in the linked story, that the man they're suing was sharing those files. How then do they know he had them on his computer? How widespread is this snooping? And where the hell are all the greedy bloodsucking lawyers that should be filing class action lawsuits against the RIAA? It would an action I actually would'nt mind being a part of. For a change.

  3. Paul:

    This is insane.

    As an aside, I also have my entire music collection stored as FLAC and MP3.

    If you haven't, check out SONOS. It's honestly the coolest thing, ever. (and no, I don't work for them)

  4. David B:

    Just wanted to say that as a musician, I do not agree with the stance of the RIAA regarding fair use, nor with their approach to consumers.

    I'm happy when someone buys one of my records, and I'd rather that they buy one for a friend instead of copying it, but I would never countenance this sort of intimidation or restrictions on personal liberty.

  5. Larry:

    I'm doing what I can to help the musicians and the companies protect their property.

    I don't buy (or use) any thing that is not on vinyl or cassette tapes (or 8-track tape but I don't have a player that works anymore so I don't have a way of transferring my property to the modern formats.

    If they (musicians, et alia) get hungry enough, they can let me know that I can use that which I buy and pay for and I'll give it some thought.

    Not that much, really, that I want, any how.

  6. Andy:

    Regarding MP3 music in general, the Rolling Stone has a must-read article series on the death of high fidelity. Check it out.