Does the RIAA Really Claim Rips Are Illegal?
“It is undisputed that Defendant possessed unauthorized copies of  copyrighted sound recordings on his computer. … Virtually all of the sound recordings … are in the ‘.mp3’ format. … Defendant admitted that he converted these sound recordings from their original format to the .mp3 format for his and his wife’s use. 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 [plaintiff recording companies].” — Recording Industry Assn. of America supplemental brief (.pdf) in Atlantic v. Howell.
MacNN. RIAA Claims CD Rips Are Piracy in Lawsuit. Dec. 11, 2007. The MacNN headline is provocative, but not quite accurate. What the music industry lobby argues is ripping copyrighted music from CD (i.e. the “original format”) to another format (e.g. .mp3 files, for example) and posting to a shared folder on a peer-to-peer program (like Kazaa) means the music becomes de facto illegal, and therefore copyright infringement. While most press coverage of this brief focuses on the alleged illegality of ripping music from compact disc to another format, the real story to us is about the recording industry’s attempts to extend into judge-made law the “making available” doctrine, which the industry argued strongly in the Jammie Thomas trial. Although the RIAA does, in fact, think that making personal copies of music is illegal, we think the likelihood of them trying to enforce that principle is, by itself, far fetched. We’ve seen stranger things occur, however.
(Editor’s Note: Copycense editors originally commented on this article in the Dec. 18, 2007, edition of Copycense Clippings, and it was a Quote of the Week” selection.)
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