Sunday, December 30, 2007

Music Download News - New Tactic from Recording Industry

Since I have written before (here and here and here) about the lawsuits against music downloading, the Washington Post article, Download Uproar: Record Industry Goes After Personal Use, caught my eye.

"Now, in 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."
I read about the RIAA's theory elsewhere. Distilled to a bare minimum, I do not own my music CD but only use it under a license from the record company.

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 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."

Yeah, a lot of people can believe this argument - lawyers and laypersons alike.

I cannot but heartily agree with this:
The RIAA's legal crusade against its customers is a classic example of an old media company clinging to a business model that has collapsed. Four years of a failed strategy has only "created a whole market of people who specifically look to buy independent goods so as not to deal with the big record companies," Beckerman says. "Every problem they're trying to solve is worse now than when they started."
I suppose working at the rarefied levels of my profession as the RIAA's attorneys do, they give no thought to the ultimate wisdom of their legal theories. I have a duty to act in my client's best interests and so do these guys. Yet, this litigation does nothing to advance anything for their clients - other than the RIAA as a bunch of greedy thugs.