You Buy CD + Computer = Ripped MP3 File = Illegal = RIAA Mathematics

As Bill Murray said in Where The Buffalo Roam, "I'm going to gnaw on his skull, because it just hasn't gotten weird enough for me." Mr. S. Thompson, many of your words are still hauntingly relevant when it comes to this crazy little thing called the music industry.

Not content to just sue plain old illegal file-sharing thieves for downloading shitty, moderate-quality MP3 rips of groundbreaking artists like Maroon 5, it seems the RIAA wants to clamp down on those who convert their own CDs into digital formats.

A few months back, 26 year old Jennifer Pariser, Sony BMG's anti-piracy lawyer, was quoted as saying that making a copy of a song you purchased is like "steal[ing] just one copy." After all, "when an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we [could] say he stole a song," right?

Now the RIAA has gone on record in an Arizona court involving Atlantic Records stating a similar sentiment. According to Wired, the defendant in the Atlantic v. Howell case "converted Plaintiff's recordings into the compressed ‘.mp3’ format and they are in his shared folder; they are no longer the authorized copies distributed by Plaintiffs." So much for fair use, apparently.

Except that in a 2005 case, the record companies indicated that it is ‘lawful’ to ‘rip’ a CD into MP3 files to put onto your own iPod or other music player. It seems that within the two years, some ‘adjustments’ have been made to the industry's approach to protecting their intellectual property.

It is understandable that the record companies would want to set up some defenses; after all, music sales are their bread and butter. However, going to such an extent as to indicate that making a personal copy of a song is ‘stealing’ is a generalization of absurdist proportions. It's intriguing that the same lawyer who made this claim in October also admitted that the labels' anti-piracy lawsuits are costing the company "millions" of dollars.

The irony doesn't even stop there; the RIAA's website even indicates that there is "no legal ‘right’ to copy the copyrighted music on a CD onto a CD-R. However, burning a copy of CD onto a CD-R, or transferring a copy onto your computer hard drive or your portable music player, won't usually raise concerns." Creating a convoluted twist of mixed, vague messages isn't a great way to establish faith in your product, by the way.

The sad question that I have to ask is who is benefiting from this twisted approach to such a positive product? It's not the artists, it's not the journalists covering them, or the publicity workers, or even the listeners. If the lawsuits are costing the industry millions, then it's not even benefiting the labels themselves. I'm not feeling very mathematic right now, so you do the math; I'll go gnaw on a skull until this whole thing just calmly blows over. Because it just hasn't gotten weird enough for me.

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