Monday, December 31, 2007

Download Uproar: Record Industry Goes After Personal Use -

Download Uproar: Record Industry Goes After Personal Use -
"Despite more than 20,000 lawsuits filed against music fans in the years since they started finding free tunes online rather than buying CDs from record companies, the recording industry has utterly failed to halt the decline of the record album or the rise of digital music sharing.

Still, hardly a month goes by without a news release from the industry's lobby, the Recording Industry Association of America, touting a new wave of letters to college students and others demanding a settlement payment and threatening a legal battle.

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."
Oh, for crying out loud!

Making a copy for personal use has been legal since the LP days, when it was routine for people to make a cassette tape and play it in lieu of playing the vinyl record. As things have moved into the digital age, the same understanding has continued. The iPod and other digital players have permitted people to carry around whole shelves worth of music wherever they go.

This technology is a great convenience for those who buy their music and make a copy for portable use. It is also a great convenience for those who steal music, but thus far, the courts seem to have been reluctant to hobble an entire industry simply because some (or even a majority) of its users are dishonest.

This article suggests that the RIAA has failed in every attempt thus far to reverse its declining revenues, and is now going after law-abiding citizens, when what it really needs to do is to radically change its business model. The idea of extracting a fee for every possible use of a recording just isn't going to cut it in the digital age.

Full Disclosure: Every bit of music that may or may not be on my iPod is backed up by a CD that I purchased and is sitting on my shelves. Stealing is wrong whether it takes place at gunpoint or at the click of a mouse.

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