wasting bandwidth since 1999

CDs? You Don’t Own The Music Part

You know all those tracks on your iPod that you ripped from physical CDs that you actually own?

They’re illegal.

At least that’s what lawyers for the RIAA told a judge in Arizona.

You bought the disk but you’re only renting the music.

riaa, copyright, fair use


  1. Dave

    Step 1) Ignore worldwide, earth-shattering trends in customer participation in your industry
    Step 2) Wait 6-8 years
    Step 3) Allow half-hearted attempts to accommodate trends from Step 1)
    Step 4) Vilify anyone who followed trends before you reached Step 3)

    Eventually there will have to be a independent music mega-site…sort of a combination of features from Pandora, mySpace, and some others. If the major RIAA labels were smart, they would set up this site ASAP and focus on data-mining and advertising revenue rather than total ownership of the music.

  2. Stephen Downes

    In Canada, they’re legal (for now, at least). We paid for them when we bought the blank media, in the form of a copyright royalty levy paid on that media.

  3. NYC Educator

    Wow. I hope the music police don’t check this computer, which has recorded pretty much all my legally-purchased favorite disks.

  4. Ben

    Um, You are so wrong. If you read the text that your link leads you to, you’ll find that the defendant wasn’t being prosecuted for ripping the music, or making it available to the whole family. The problem came when the music was placed in the kazaa shared folder and distributed.

  5. Ben

    Here is the Plaintiff’s Supplemental Brief:


    “C. Defendant possessed unauthorized copies of Plaintiff’s copyrighted sound recordings on his computer and actually disseminated such unauthorized copies over the KaZaA peer-to-peer network.

    It is undisputed that Defendant possessed unauthorized copies of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted sound recordings on his computer. Exhibit B to Plaintiffs’ Complaint is a series of screen shots showing the sound recording and other files found in the KaZaA shared folder on Defendant’s computer on January 30, 2006. (SOF, Doc. No. 31, at ¶¶ 4-6); Exhibit 12 to SOF at ¶¶ 13, 17-18.) Virtually all of the sound recordings on Exhibit B are in the “.mp3” format. (Exhibit 10 to SOF, showing virtually all audio files with the “.mp3” extension.) Defendant admitted that he converted these sound recordings from their original format to the .mp3 format for his and his wife’s use. (Howell Dep. 107:24 to 110:2; 114:1 to 116:16). The .mp3 format is a “compressed format [that] allows for rapid transmission of digital audio files from one computer to another by electronic mail or any other file transfer protocol.” Napster, 239 F.3d at 1011. 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. Moreover, Defendant had no authorization to distribute Plaintiffs’ copyrighted recordings from his KaZaA shared folder.
    Each of the 11 sound recordings on Exhibit A to Plaintiffs’ Complaint were stored in the .mp3 format in the shared folder on Defendant’s computer hard drive, and each of these eleven files were actually disseminated from Defendant’s computer. (See Jacobson Decl. ¶ 6 and Exhibit 1 thereto.) Each of these actual, unauthorized disseminations of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted works violates Plaintiffs’ exclusive distribution right under the Copyright Act. See Perfect 10, 416 F. Supp. 2d at 844. In addition, Defendant unlawfully distributed all 54 of Plaintiffs’ Sound Recordings by making unauthorized copies of the recordings available to other KaZaA users for download. See Perfect 10, Inc., 487 F.3d at 719; Napster, 239 F.3d at 1014; Hotaling, 118 F.3d at 203; Lott, 471 F. Supp. 2d at 722.”

    PArt 2:

    A while back, Larry Lessig hosted an interview that has them on record saying otherwise!


    Here is the relevant passage, in response to a question I asked at that time?

    Q: What are we buying when we buy entertainment media? Is it a license to view/listen to the product, or is it just a copy of the title that we have limited rights to? That is, do we own the license to view/listen to the content in any format — or when we buy a CD, are we just purchasing the format of the content?

    A: When you buy a CD, you should feel free to consume the music. That means you should listen to that disc, and feel free to make a copy of that disc for your own use so that you can have a copy in your home and your office. You should feel free to copy it onto other formats, such as .mp3, so that you can listen to it on your computer. You should feel free to copy it to cassette.

    The only time you run into problems is if you begin to distribute your copies to others.

  6. Tim

    Ben, if you’d bothered to read my post, I said nothing about the case itself. I was referring to the statement by the RIAA that making copies of songs from CD’s a person has purchased (aka ripping) onto that person’s personal computer is “unathorized and illegal”.

    I fully understand that distributing copies of media to others is illegal and I agree it should be in some instances. My complaint is with the RIAA, MPAA and others trying to make it impossible for me to move media I’ve purchased to other devices I own to consume when and where I see fit.

    There should be nothing illegal about taking a CD and making mp3 copies of the tracks. Storing them in a shared folder for a p2p network is, or should be, a completely separate issue. But that’s not how the lawyers for the RIAA see it here and, as you note in the Lessig interview, that is a 180 degree turn from past statements.

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