MP3s You've Ripped Yourself Are Still "Unauthorized" By The RIAA

Ars Technica says that the RIAA filed a brief last week that claimed that mp3 files ripped from a defendant’s own CDs were “unauthorized.”

Atlantic v. Howell is a bit unusual because the defendants, husband and wife Jeffrey and Pamela Howell, are defending themselves against the recording industry’s lawsuit without the benefit of a lawyer. They were sued by the RIAA in August 2006 after an investigator from SafeNet discovered evidence of file-sharing over the KaZaA network.

The Howells have denied any copyright infringement on their part. In their response to the RIAA’s lawsuit, they said that the MP3 files on their PC are and “always have been” for private use. “The files in question are for transfer to portable devices, that is legal for ‘fair use,'” reads their response.

Previously, during the Jammie Thomas trial, Jennifer Pariser, head of litigation for Sony BMG, said that making copies of music you own for your own personal use is “stealing.”

“When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song. Making “a copy” of a purchased song is just “a nice way of saying ‘steals just one copy’,” she said.

RIAA: Those CD rips of yours are still “unauthorized”
[Ars Technica]


Edit Your Comment

  1. ptkdude says:

    Attention RIAA: “unauthorized” does not mean the same thing as “illegal”.

  2. Rando says:

    Who the fuck is the RIAA?

  3. DrGirlfriend says:

    How much more ridiculous can the RIAA get?

  4. nutrigm says:

    Then why sell mp3 players or Music CDs in the first place? If it’s such a big deal then let the worthy listeners pay a jukebox machine or call the radio station to request their fav. song for a fee or something. RIAA is a group of deadbeats. If they really are concerned about their $$ then get the govt to come up with some (un)intelligence to nuke china and your piracy problems will be cut by 45%. :)

  5. girly says:

    This again?

    So this lawyer decided that they are going to make their own laws and redefine fair use?

    Obviously, CDs need to be sold entombed in a special listening device that can only work in an RIAA “safe room” where you and only you can listen to the music without prying ears or risk of copying.

    Then the memory of the song should be erased from your brain so you don’t go around humming it or, worst case, singing it out loud.

  6. nobodyman says:

    I’m all for fair use, but this isn’t a fair use issue. They ripped the CD’s to their “Shared Documents” folder and shared them over Kazaa.

  7. nursetim says:

    Mr Fantastic is impressed at the stretch that argument makes to find a basis to sue someone. Hopefully, the time will come that judges start throwing out suits brought by the RIAA, after they compose themselves from all of the laughter.

  8. flamincheney says:

    What is the point of purchasing music- or anything else for that matter- if you really never own it? The RIAA and other companies with absurd EULA’s ar simply diggin their own graves. The record industry needs to wake up and realize that their system is broken, and that for most consumers it is easier to steal than purchase. That’s not even bringing up flawed DRM, rootkits, and other backhanded ways the RIAA bitchslaps their actual consumers.

  9. girly says:

    @nobodyman: I’m talking about

    “When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song. Making “a copy” of a purchased song is just “a nice way of saying ‘steals just one copy’,”

  10. warf0x0r says:

    @girly: I would buy this 3 million dollar “CD”, infact I’ll take two!!!

  11. HeyThereKiller says:

    @nutrigm: I listen to my music on an abacus

  12. neithernor says:

    @girly: “RIAA Files Suit Against Nation’s Karaoke Bars”

  13. josh1701 says:

    A student at the University of Pennsylvania who received a pre-litigation letter from the RIAA is interviewed in today’s edition of The Daily Pennsylvanian.

    She paid $3K instead of going to court. According to the article, “… she wonders if she might have done more good by putting up a fight.”

    “Settling was ‘definitely the easiest option, but I feel guilty that in the long run maybe I could have made a difference challenging them,’ she said.”

  14. Half Beast says:

    @DrGirlfriend: Don’t tempt fate. lol

  15. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    Dr. Zoidberg (dials phone):
    Only $14.99 for a two-record set? Two records! Oh Zoidberg, at last you’re becoming a crafty consumer! [Someone on the other end picks up.] Hello? I’ll take eight! (edit)

  16. MatthewVA says:

    One thing is for sure, this approach seems not so successful? People are sure hatin!

  17. madanthony says:


    exactly. The problem isn’t that they ripped their own cd’s, the problem is that they ripped their own cd’s and then shared them on a file-sharing network.

    I think the music industry is kicking themselves in the nuts by cracking down on file sharing, but right now the law is on their side…

  18. JustAGuy2 says:


    They certainly would, if the karaoke bars didn’t pay for performance rights, which they do.

  19. girly says:


    I wonder, if one of the candidates offered to change laws about music and file sharing, could that get them elected?

  20. girly says:

    @JustAGuy2: So if you sing a song outside of a karaoke bar, watch out!

  21. cde says:

    If I were a lawyer for the defense, I would use a sony mp3 player or sony minidisc player as proof that Sony fully authorizes, encourages, even induces ripping of music from cds.

  22. girly says:

    @warf0x0r: Why not, when you can’t pay, you won’t be able to remember purchasing it anyway!

  23. mopar_man says:

    I guess if I want to make copies of my own CDs to keep in my car in case they get stolen is against the law? Fuck you RIAA. You have done nothing good for the business you’re involved in.

  24. billy says:

    Copying copyrighted material is a violation of the Copyright Act.

    The RIAA is describing this as “unauthorized” b/c if authorization had been given, this wouldn’t be a problem. It’s up to the court to decide if it was “illegal”. In other words, the RIAA is trying to state the reasons why this was illegal and not just jumping to the conclusion that it was illegal.

    Fair Use will come into play, but it’s up to the defendants to perfect that as a defense. Considering that they are not represented, it might be tough to articulate that, ESPECIALLY b/c there also seems to be evidence of file-sharing over the KaZaA network.

    @girly: In any case, this isn’t a case of a lawyer redefining Fair Use. When you look at Fair Use, there are factors that the court must take into account: there is NO cut and dry rule in the US that says that personal use is OK (although it’s very persuasive). Once it’s being shared, though, your argument is weakened. ALSO, if you look at the last factor, “the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work,” the RIAA might be trying to establish that ripping one’s own CDs wrecks the market for mp3s sold over the internet through authorized distributors.

    @nutrigm: MP3 players have legitimate uses: ripping/storing public domain files and other uses that fall squarely within Fair Use. If you follow Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc.(the Betamax case), those legitimate uses allow for MP3 players to exist.

    I’m not saying that any of this is the right thing for the RIAA to do or even that they will be successful, but none of this is surprising or reaching from a legal point of view.

  25. Hedgy2136 says:


    No, they are saying ripping your own CD’s for personal or any other use is the problem.

    From Gizmodo:

    “It is undisputed that Defendant possessed unauthorized copies of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted sound recordings on his computer … Virtually all of the sound recordings on Exhibit B 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.”

  26. cde says:

    @cde: I forgot to add, that sony has mp3 players way before the advent of “legal” digital song purchases and places like iTunesStore or Microsofts Digital Store, etc.

  27. LionelEHutz says:

    This kind of nonsense is why I don’t buy anything from RIAA artists and labels anymore.

    Visit [] before buying anything to see if it’s RIAA safe.

  28. backbroken says:

    Attention RIAA…I sometimes listen cd’s in my car while I have passengers. The passengers do not own a copy of the cd. Please don’t sue me for unauthorized ‘sharing.’

  29. flamincheney says:

    “I’m all for fair use, but this isn’t a fair use issue. They ripped the CD’s to their “Shared Documents” folder and shared them over Kazaa”

    How can an attorney prove that users who put music into said folder were aware of the implications. For example I do not file share, but use my shared folder as an actual shared folder within my household network of computers. Now if my brother comes over and downloads Kazaa am I guilty? Not in anyway anyone could prove I would imagine.

  30. girly says:

    @cde: and they sell computers which are essentially paraphernalia for creating mp3’s

    somehow I am also reminded of Prince who wanted a youtube video taken down where is music was being played in the *background*

  31. goller321 says:

    @nobodyman: According to their brief, their music was NOT set up for sharing. Unless Kazaa has a different “shared” folder, I don’t think having items in a shared folder is grounds to definitively say they were distributing in the internet. For example, I have a home media system. I place things in my Shared folder for distribution throughout the computers in my house, does that mean I am trading the files with others? No.

    And Sony’s point is that merely ripping a CD is against the law. Instead of killing innocent people in a mall, or a school why don’t the wackjobs go after people in the RIAA???
    It’s really a shame that our government has completely sold us out to this corporate interest.

  32. Hedgy2136 says:


    Better look out, BMI will be next suing you to recover fees for public airing of their property. Hell, I hope I didn’t just put a bug in their ear!

  33. NoNamesLeft says:

    Well, I think if this is how the RIAA wants to play it, I think they should put big warning lables on the CDs they sell saying that it is illegal convert their music to be used in MP3 players.

    See how many CDs they sell after that…

  34. Hedgy2136 says:

    Better look out, BMI/ASCAP will be next suing you to recover fees for public airing of their property. Hell, I hope I didn’t

  35. HRHKingFriday says:

    @backbroken: Attn RIAA-
    Sometimes I sing in the shower, and my roommates/neighbor can hear me. Please don’t sue me.

    Hugs and Kisses,

  36. Lawk Salih says:

    RIAA can go to hell. I rip all of my CDs for mobility.

  37. Jozef says:

    @backbroken: Don’t worry, you’re a low priority target. Unlike my neighbor who also listens to CDs in his car, but makes sure the entire neighborhood can hear the (what he calls) music.

  38. billy says:

    @backbroken: That’s nonsense. Playing a CD for friends in a car is not “sharing” neither is it a “performance.” That’s pretty well established.

    I hate to be a dick, but a lot of people replying to the post just don’t have the facts straight. It’s fine to be against what the RIAA is doing, but it’s not OK to accuse them of doing something they are not, nor probably won’t do b/c of the established law.

    When people don’t argue intelligently, it really makes your/our position look bad.

  39. ironchef says:

    I think I listened to my wife’s unauthorized humming to a song she heard on the radio.

    RIAA, don’t taze me bro!

  40. RAREBREED says:

    So what happens then when you purchase an MP3 via iTunes or the like, then proceed to burn it onto a CD to listen to in the car?

  41. billy says:

    @RAREBREED: I was under the impression that the DRM in iTunes was there to act as a license so that you are only authorized to copy the mp3 or burn it a certain number of times. In other words: in some cases you are licensed to make copies.

  42. rouftop says:

    I bet the fact that this couple is defending themselves without a lawyer is the reason why the RIAA is making such an outlandish claim. People without lawyers don’t usually fare well vs hired arguers. If they win this, then they get a nice juicy precedent to hold over everybody’s heads.

  43. savvy999 says:

    The music labels have not explicitly “authorized” copying from one’s own CDs, but they have not explicitly “unauthorized” it either.

    They and the RIAA have been purposefully vague on defining copying at the point of sale, and exactly for this reason. They will call copying “fair use” or some other knockoff of “freedom”/”choice” when they are trying to market and sell the CD, and then when it is politically or legally expedient for copying to be called “stealing”, they will do that too.

    Can you imagine the PR blowback if RIAA labels put a sticker on every CD saying that you cannot ever rip it? Oh, we would sit and laugh and roast marshmallows here at Consumerist!

  44. youbastid says:

    Funny, the RIAA didn’t seem to be too interested when I was compiling multiple tracks of copyrighted material onto blank cassettes fifteen years ago.

  45. girly says:

    @rubinow: I thought there was a case someone won where they were allowed to make backups of their CDs, that is why I’m saying she wants to redefine the law…

  46. billy says:

    @girly: There might be. I’m not aware of it. Again: there are Fair Use factors, but each case is different.

  47. coan_net says:

    Didn’t I hear once that not exact copies are not considered illegal – that is for example, recording a song from the radio? If this is so, then why doesn’t someone make a ripper that will insert very low inaudible “stuff” into a song to make it not an exact copy?

    But anyway – if you buy a license to a song by buying a tape or CD, I believe you own a copy of that song to be listen by yourself any way you want – what gives anyone the right to tell me I’m not listening to my song the correct way?

  48. jerros says:

    Some one should really start a counter. We can see how long it takes before the RIAA completely dies. For years the buisness has been ripping off both artists & consumers alike.

    This is just another attempt at an organization on it’s deathbed looking to survive another day. I honestly can’t wait till musicians band togeather and shun the big labels in favor of distributing their music directly to the public. Consumers would be happier, artists would be making much more profit and have more control over their work. The world would simply be a much better place.

  49. girly says:

    @jerros: the whole saga reminds me of Kidd Video, strangely

  50. billy says:

    @jerros: The RIAA might be on their way out: EMI is cutting their funding to RIAA.

  51. howie_in_az says:

    @LionelEHutz: Someone that’s not me needs to write a Perl or Python module that allows for querying RIAARadar. Most of the music I listen to thankfully isn’t under RIAA control.

  52. econobiker says:

    Can I legally download copies of songs that were originally on 8 track tapes which my uncle purchased 35 years ago and then gave me? I own the tapes but the hardware to play them is obsolete nor do I own it.

  53. cde says:

    @girly: I don’t think it was Prince who issued the takedown notice, just his song, a 32 second clip playing on a stereo on a video of a girl playing.

  54. cde says:

    @rubinow: No, the aac/m4c files from iTunes have drm restrictions. The mp3 files from itunes only have your info on them, no restrictions.

  55. madanthony says:


    Actually, right after the paragraph you cited is this:

    ..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.

    It wasn’t the ripping of the CD’s that got them into trouble. It’s the fact that once they ripped them, they allowed them to be shared on Kazaa.

    Let’s face it, if they had only ripped their CD’s and had not shared them on Kazaa, the RIAA would have no way of knowing that they ripped them in the first place.

  56. cde says:

    @youbastid: Home taping is KILLING MUSIC circa 1980s, ie when you were recording mix tapes []

  57. @rubinow: It’s called humor.

  58. billy says:

    @econobiker: No. Why would the fact that you once bought a recording mean that you don’t have to buy another ever again?

  59. cde says:

    @econobiker: Yes. That is undoubtly covered by fair-use, and not just by common-law.

  60. billy says:

    @cde: The files you purchase from iTunes have DRM restrictions which act as a license restricting your copying and ripping. I’m not sure what your response means.

  61. girly says:
  62. billy says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Honestly, I understand that some of the responses are kinda funny, but some of the responses are just plain clueless.

  63. jenl1625 says:

    Countless studies have shown that the majority of music on portable music players like the iPod comes from sources other than download services. For most people, that music is comprised primarily of songs “ripped” from CD collections to MP3 or some other comparable format. Indeed, most portable music players comes with software (like iTunes) which is designed to facilitate the easy ripping of CDs. According to Pariser’s view, this is stealing.

    That’s a paragraph from one of the articles about the testimony from RIAA. Whether or not RIAA is claiming that *this* couple shared some or all of these files, RIAA wants to establish a legal precedent that buying a CD, putting it into your computer, and ripping it into iTunes is theft. Syncing it onto your iPod is another theft.

  64. putch says:

    wrong again. can you guys ever get anything right? they argue that it was unauthorized when it was placed in a shared folder.

  65. lostalaska says:

    While EMI is looking at stopping their payments to the RIAA I doubt that will end the organization, there are quite a few more nails that need to be pounded into that coffin before we can say they’re anywhere near dead.

    As for the argument about fair use. If they had their music in a shared folder for Kazaa or bittorrent or whatever then their case about fair use is weakened to the point of being useless. Fair use can only hold back the RIAA so much, the problem is for them to have found you, you either had to of been sharing music or you’re increadably unlucky and have misidentified in which case those are the people that would need to really fight back.

  66. zibby says:

    Hell, it is called “ripping” after all…maybe we should give it a friendlier name.

  67. jerros says:

    It’s not really clear if the “Shared Folder” is something associated with Kazaa or if they simply created a folder on their home machine and “Shared it out” for home networking purposes so mom in one room could listen to some music while dad listened to other music in a different room.

    I honestly don’t think there are many lawyers out there who could make that distinction, and the old computer illiterate farts in the RIAA offices wouldn’t do much better.

  68. cde says:

    @rubinow: iTunes sell two kinds of files, drm restricted and drm free. Aac/m4a and mp3. One has restrictions (which if you take into account the “”analog loophole”” arnt really) one has none.

    Second, drm is not a license, but the enforcement of one.

  69. TechnoDestructo says:


    Sony had ATRAC players, not MP3. This is probably why Apple rules the market, and not Sony. Once again, Sony tried to impose their proprietary format on everyone, and once again it cost them.

  70. RvLeshrac says:


    No, actually, “Fair Use” is a codified legal matter. You are allowed to make a single copy for archival or backup purposes. You just aren’t allowed to crack any copy protection or DRM to do it.

  71. TechnoDestructo says:


    I love RIAAradar. There are some surprisingly high-profile completely-non RIAA (as opposed to just oustide the US) American musicians. As much as his music makes me feel ill, I was tickled to see that Toby Keith releases his music without the “help” of RIAA labels.

    I only hope that this keeps growing.

  72. cde says:

    @TechnoDestructo: Diamond had the Rio before Apple had the iPod, yet they dont rule the market either…

    But your right. Sony didn’t add mp3 support till 2004/early 2005. They still offered a digital medium for ripping/recording music to, so it is a bit moot.

  73. cde says:

    @RvLeshrac: You can crack DRM if the drm or tech to play it is defunct.

  74. billy says:

    BTW: after reading the RIAA v. Diamond Multimedia, I think that the RIAA is trying to draw a distinction between moving copies of legally authorized mp3s from your computer to your mp3 player (this seems to be what that case specifically speaks about…it was deemed fair use) and copying a CD to ones computer for later upload to an mp3 player.

    If I’m reading it right, space-shifting from a CD to mp3 is what the RIAA is concerned about in this situation.

  75. billy says:

    @cde: What are the license restrictions for the non-DRM files (if any)?

    You’re right, though: I should have said that DRM enforces the licensing restrictions.

  76. @randotheking: Worst Company in America. Literally.

  77. billy says:

    @RvLeshrac: Codified implies that there is a “code” or law. As far as I know the Fair Use law is embodied in § 107 of the Copyright Act: Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use.

    Any clarifications to that have been through case law.

  78. putch says:

    it’s clearly the kazaa folder as that’s how they caught them.

    certainly the RIAA doesn’t want you to be able to rip mp3’s from a cd. but that’s not what they’re arguing here. they’re arguing that you cant rip them and then share them on the internet. which, probably isn’t fair use. though, maybe it should be.

    basically, once again consumerist gets it wrong. i’m starting to lean towards removing this site from my feed list as this is a nearly daily occurrence.

  79. SexierThanJesus says:

    Please do.

  80. cde says:

    @rubinow: I was mistaken about the format. The DRM is .m4p, the non-drm is either .m4a or .aac files, called iTunes Plus.
    Apples iTunes Plus FAQ: []

  81. KashmirKong says:

    Well that is certainly a contradiction to what the RIAA said during the Grokkster lawsuit:

    “The record companies, my clients, have said, for some time now, and it’s been on their Website for some time now, that it’s perfectly lawful to take a CD that you’ve purchased, upload it onto your computer, put it onto your iPod. There is a very, very significant lawful commercial use for that device, going forward.”

  82. floydianslip6 says:


    Yes the RIAA is suing about the sharing.

    However, if in their arguments they make the claim that the copying from CD to mp3 is unauthorized and thus illegal by violation and this is accepted and the RIAA wins. THAT SETS A LEGAL PRECEDENT.

    Even though it was not the entire point of the case.

  83. vastrightwing says:

    There’s only one outcome for this: destroy all recording equipment. Oh and all media like books, paper, tape, vinyl, flash, CDs, DVDs: all of it! Yes, no more printing presses, sorry Gutenberg. Ultimately, Gutenberg is responsible for copyright infringement. No more tape recorders, cameras, loudspeakers or any kind of audio/video re-production equipment. Computers will have to be destroyed as well, fore they can be used for illegal purposes. Speaking will be illegal, since your own mouths can be used to reproduce music and copyrighted speech. I’m sorry to put it this way, but this is where we are headed.

  84. redeyesam says:

    I bought! I own it! period! All these music nazis can go fuck themselves. If I want to make a tape/share a file with my friends or anybody else for that matter, thats my choise and nobody else’s.
    Funny story, when Metallica first started they gave away free tapes and encouraged people to share it with everyone, I still have that tape and I still share it with everyone. Almost all bands I know including my own in the day, did it that way. RIAA? who needs em, just ask Joan Jett if she needs em or anybody else who isnt lazy and did it themselves.If the band is involved with the RIAA, DONT BUY THEIR MUSIC! There is tons of bands out there.

  85. floydianslip6 says:

    The legal system does not exist in a vacuum. It’s not a “you win” NEXT! kind of situation. The individual pieces of the arguments are legal precedent that can and are used in future cases.

    That’s one of the reasons why what is said and done in court is so important every little piece matters.


  86. billy says:

    The legal documents from the case are located on this page: []

    After reading the Order for Summary Judgment (later vacated) it really does look like the RIAA is trying to establish that the files were in the KaZaa folder and, therefore, were shared. They cite a case that says that having the files in the folder is enough to be called “sharing” Perfect 10, Inc. v. Napster.

    The Defendant’s Motion to Reconsider lays out his defense: the files were in the Kazaa folder automatically and without his knowledge.

    So, essentially, the Defendant is just claiming that he didn’t know he was sharing the files and didn’t mean to do it.

    If you look at the Ars Technica article that Consumerist cites, the main point of the article seems to be that the RIAA doesn’t like people copying music. This isn’t news. The Atlantic v. Howell doesn’t seem to put much of a spin on it and it.

  87. …but that’s not what they’re arguing here

    @putch: Yes they are. The lead counsel for the RIAA said that making a copy of a song for your own use was stealing.

  88. backbroken says:

    Listen, I used to watch Law and Order (especially the Law part) when Angie Harmon was on the show. And this guy I used to know ended up going to law school. So I’m pretty sure that if I play my cd in the car and another passenger hears it, the RIAA may end up suing my ass for file sharing. What I want to know from other legal experts is, can I be sued if only my dog is in the car with me? What constitutes ‘fair use’ for pets?

  89. bnb614 says:

    In the interest of being a law abiding citizen, I turned myself into the police today for theft. I ripped a few CDs to my computer.

    The crazy part is that I want to represent myself in court, but that would be a conflict of interest.

    Oh what to do.

  90. billy says:

    @backbroken: You tell me.

  91. billy says:

    @bnb614: Let me get this right…was THAT supposed to be funny?

  92. coren says:

    I haven’t used Kazaa in forever, but I seem to remember it automatically choosing a shared folder that was at the same time the default folder for ripping music Is this still the case, or am I just misremembering?

  93. RollOverForMore says:


    Read more carefully. Yes, the RIAA is going after the couple for apparent sharing violations, but the story here is that the RIAA’s lead counsel used testimony from SONY BMG’s head of litigation which stated that even ripping a copy of a purchased CD is considered stealing. Clearly ripping and sharing has already been established as illegal, but the big news is that now just ripping a purchased CD for personal use is illegal.

    Clearly the couple doesn’t have a leg to stand on because they were putting their ripped song files into Kazaa, an application created for file sharing. Their argument would have some validity if they had put the files into another folder on their hard drive, and if that folder wasn’t used by Kazaa.

    I think the RIAA and SONY BMG are taking this too far and haven’t been smart enough to figure out how to make money from this technological paradigm shift. And no one feels sorry for them.

  94. consumerd says:

    damn, Well I guess my copy of CDex is illegal then!

    Wow…. just Wow RIAA!!

    I guess I will keep the VPN running as long as I want!!



  95. JPinCLE says:

    @rectilinear: Exactly! This woman, who was probably dumped in college by a guy that spent too much time on Napster, is giving the RIAA and Sony an even worse name than they already had regarding this issue by mischaracterizing the offense.

    However, this story smells a little bit, to me…

    First, the issue is that this couple seems to have shared music, illegally and unauthorizedly – ahem, without authorization – and not that they have ripped mp3s to their own computer for their own use.

    When you get past that, citing Ms. Parisier’s prior position is really a matter of citing something completely irrelevant. Nevermind for a moment that her argument uses the word “stealing” which makes Sony/BMG (& the RIAA) appear to be monsters…

    The bottom line (to me) is that this story uses an old position to attempt to defend what we all know to be illegal behavior by framing the plaintiff as this horrible fire breathing entity that will stop at nothing to put mp3 player toting innocents behind bars. In reality, nobody’s ending up in the pokey because they have an iPod with music on it from CDs. If this were really the issue, don’t you think the industry would’ve done a better job controlling the iTunes (etc…) software capabilities?

  96. bnb614 says:

    @mopar_man: The RIAA is describing this as “unauthorized” b/c if authorization had been given, this wouldn’t be a problem. It’s up to the court to decide if it was “illegal”. In other words, the RIAA is trying to state the reasons why this was illegal and not just jumping to the conclusion that it was illegal.

    Nice example of how legalese and lawyers are messing up every little thing. Instead of saying, clearly ‘right and wrong’, a person should be able to buy a CD and rip it to their computer to listen too, so let’s not go that route, the RIAA says “let’s be creative and see if we can get a judge to agree that ripping a copy of your own CD is the same thing as uploading and illegally sharing music with strangers.”

    It would be nice if a judge would start fining the RIAA for bullshit wastes of time like this. There is no justification for this being illegal.

    What is the RIAA’s end game? To make it so if you buy a CD and want to listen on your computer you have to download another copy on iTunes?

    I thought the purpose of RIAA lawsuits was to end piracy. Clearly their hack lawyers didn’t get the memo.

    Fucking lawyers.

  97. HRHKingFriday says:

    @coren: That used to happen to me too. Some Kazaa variations were better than others in telling you what files to share. Others would just open up your computer for everyone to download, without you knowing. Thats why, if you dare go on Kazaa no, you can run a search for .pdfs and come up with peoples personal forms and letters. In fact, I think thats how a lot of identities are stolen. All you have to do is search for things like 1040s that people have scanned.

    Anyways, this whole thing is getting so moot. There are a ton of ways to get free mp3s. For the lesser known bands, try the iLike feature on facebook. The Black Keys had some great live performances available for free. There are also sites like and radio recording (radio shark was my favorite) devices that can get you free mainstream bands. If you’re dumb enough to still use Kazaa, then I’d almost say you deserve the RIAA.

  98. billy says:

    @JPinCLE: According to the court papers they don’t deny that they ripped the CDs for their use. They just don’t agree that they were sharing.

  99. Macroy says:

    I just used this quote in a persuasive speech I had to give for my speech class on Monday!

  100. HRHKingFriday says:

    @bnb614: And to think the music industry was finally starting to bounce back as a result of affordable music on iTunes. Now they have to jack things up like the 20 dollar pop CDs in the 1990s and screw it up again.

  101. jerros says:

    The only reason music is affordable on iTunes is because of *shudder* steve jobs. If the RIAA had their way you’d be paying $5 for a hit single, $3 for the good songs, and 0.99 for songs no one listens to.

  102. bhall03 says:


    I say we officially name the RIAA the Worst Company in America for LIFE. No need to even bother with another round of playoffs next year.

  103. billy says:

    @bnb614: I think this was directed at me, so I might have to answer it:

    “Nice example of how legalese and lawyers are messing up every little thing.”

    Where’s the legalese? The RIAA lawyers were using the terms of the Copyright Act to explain their position (i.e. using “unauthorized” as opposed to “illegal”). Frankly, I’m happy that they DIDN’T just jump right in and use the word “illegal.” And their lawyers are only acting at the direction of the RIAA. It’s a bad policy, for sure, but there’s nothing odd about it, legally.

    “Instead of saying, clearly ‘right and wrong’, a person should be able to buy a CD and rip it to their computer to listen too, so let’s not go that route, the RIAA says “let’s be creative and see if we can get a judge to agree that ripping a copy of your own CD is the same thing as uploading and illegally sharing music with strangers.”

    Well, there is no clear “right and wrong.” That’s why there are lawsuits brought. And it’s not the attorneys who get to say what’s right and what’s wrong: the law was set out by the founding fathers in the Constitution. The legislature amended it and case law (judges’ law) refines it. AND, if you cared to read, this is not a case where the accusation is that ripping a CD is the same as uploading. That’s just a misreading on your behalf.

    “There is no justification for this being illegal.”

    See the Copyright Act. It’s not a stretch to argue that it IS illegal.

    “What is the RIAA’s end game? To make it so if you buy a CD and want to listen on your computer you have to download another copy on iTunes?”

    Probably. The industry thrives on people buying the same music again and again in different formats.

    “I thought the purpose of RIAA lawsuits was to end piracy. Clearly their hack lawyers didn’t get the memo.”

    These lawsuits are an attempt to end piracy. How would this lawsuit be any different? Did YOU not get the memo?

    “Fucking lawyers.”


  104. bnb614 says:


    While I appreciate Steve Jobs bringing technology to music, and appreciate Amazon for competing with him to hopefully keep prices down, it is time for iTunes to sell only DRM-free music. Jobs/Apple/iTunes has the upper hand. A musician won’t let their music be sold DRM free? Fine, don’t add it to your site and let their CD languish in a dinosaur CD store.

    I used iTunes to check out new music, but if I want to buy, I buy it DRM free through other avenues.

  105. Sean says:

    Wow. This is the first thing the RIAA has done that I actually disagree with to an extent. Previously, I have not cared who they sued or what their actions were, becuase i disagree with music sharing and piracy entierly – if you were downloading music that you did’nt pay for (That was not released for free by the artists/label) you were in the wrong.

    ALL of my music on my Zune I ripped from CDs that I own.

    They can’t tell me I can’t do that.

    Screw the RIAA. I’m officially on the bandwagon now.

  106. davidc says:

    This business about RIAA saying (more then once, in more then one venue) that copying music you purchased is ‘stealing’ is hogwash.

    RIAA has done a very good job of educating the masses that Artists need to be “compensated” for their work. That means that once I “buy” a song then the artist has been compensated BY ME for his work.

    That also means that I should NEVER have to pay that artist again for that song … EVER in my entire life. It’s mine. So it doesn’t matter how many ‘copies’ I make for my personal use … I now own the rights to listen to that music … anywhere … anytime.

    As a matter of fact, taken to a grand scale, those karaoke bars and what not would not have to “pay” a licensing fee to artists if EVERYONE in that place of business already owned all the music it played.

    The problem is that the RIAA has done too good a job educating people on IP rights and now we “get it” too good.

    I paid for my music … it’s now mine … for life … to listen to anywhere / everywhere I go. You get no more money for me RIAA. And that is what is putting the Record companies out of business. People like me now refuse to pay an artist more then once for their “IP”.

  107. itmustbeken says:

    Everytime they do this they drive a few more people over to the Pirate Bay and drop them off in Torrent land.

    Why won’t more artists stand up and speak out about this f-ing insanity?

    I’ve bought your CD, I’m putting on my iPod to listen to it and when I buy your new CD, I’ll do the same. What is wrong with that?!

    These RIAA douche bags want me to buy it again for each device I own? WTF!?!

  108. bnb614 says:

    Rubinow I would bet you are clearly a lawyer and I wouldn’t be surprised if you had RIAA ties based on how you keep supporting what they are doing with the same legalese I criticized, ie saying “this is not a case where the accusation is that ripping a CD is the same as uploading.” followed by “It’s not a stretch to argue that it IS illegal.”

    If you think these lawsuits are an attempt to end piracy then get a clue.

    These lawsuits are about trying to make $$ off of people who don’t have the resources to defend themselves against a corporate giant that is pissed off because they are losing control of the music industry. Look at tape players, CD players, DVD players, Blockbuster, etc. The corporate bigwigs in music and entertainment have tried to block any technological advancement. If they had their way we would all still be listening to 8 track tapes and paying $25 a piece for them. They have fought to eliminate fair use, fought to extend copyright terms to infinity, and used the DMCA act to fight technology and fair use.

    Until the music industry embraces technology and sells DRM free music and finds different revenue streams, they will have issues. Things will never be the way when major labels ran everything. Hell, any decent artist doesn’t even need a major label anymore. As long as the industry fights advancement and technology, people will continue to steal their music.

  109. putch says:


    actually, no. you are unbelievably incorrect. if you relied on anything but 3rd hand blog posts maybe you’d know that the plaintiffs said:

    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.

    it’s the SHARING of the files that made them unauthorized copies.

    I’m not an RIAA apologist and I whole heartedly disagree with their absurd crusade against consumers. but if there is ever any hope to end this absurdity we have to be honest here.

    as i said before the RIAA would probably love to prohibit all CD ripping. but that is clearly NOT what there argument is here. they are saying that if you rip a cd and place it in kazaa’s shared folder then that fair use copy is no longer authorized. it’s pretty fucking straight forward actually.

  110. billy says:

    @david.c: There is a difference between buying a physical copy of a song and buying the rights to a song.

    By your argument, movie makers should be allowed to put whatever music they want in their films as long as they buy the CD. That just doesn’t work.

    Whether the current system we have is good for artists, consumers, or otherwise is a very tough question…but it IS the system whether we like it or not. It seems like a lot of people like to spin the situation in their favor (including the RIAA), but AT LEAST the RIAA has the law to look to and not just hopeful thinking (like many people have here).

  111. cde says:

    @rubinow: Calling music ripping Stealing is tantamount to calling it Illegal, since stealing is illegal.

  112. cde says:

    @bnb614: The musician gets no say, the record label who owns the copyright to the music is the one who dictates drm or no drm.

  113. cde says:

    @rubinow: No, they have selectivly been looking at the law that benefits them. They forget things like the Home Recording Act, which places a levy on blank cds and tapes and dvds which go towards the RIAA and (unevenly) the artists.

    AHRA Royalties

    [edit] Payment of Royalties

    Under the AHRA, importers and manufacturers pay royalties on “digital audio recording devices” and “digital audio recording media.” Those who wish to import, manufacture and distribute must seek a statutory license from the Copyright Office. Royalties are based on “transfer price,” either the sale price or the price recorded for customs purposes in the case of importers.

    For digital audio recording devices, manufacturers and importers pay a 2% royalty on the device’s transfer price, with a minimum royalty of $1 and a maximum of $8 ($12 for dual recorders) per device. For digital audio recording media, manufacturers and importers pay a 3% royalty.

    [edit] Distribution of Royalties

    Under the AHRA, royalties collected by the Copyright Office on digital recording devices and digital recording media are divided into two separate funds, the Musical Works Fund and the Sound Recordings Fund. One third of the royalties goes to the Musical Works Fund, which splits its cut 50/50 between writers (distributed by ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC) and music publishers (distributed by Harry Fox Agency). These parties receive royalties according to the extent to which their recordings were distributed or broadcast.

  114. billy says:

    @bnb614: Wait a second: nowhere do I EVER defend the RIAA. I repeatedly state that their policies are not really a good idea. However, the tone of this and other discussions is that the RIAA simply has no right to defend themselves. They do…although it might be a bad policy and/or fruitless.

    And there is nothing inconsistent about the statements “this is not a case where the accusation is that ripping a CD is the same as uploading” and “It’s not a stretch to argue that it IS illegal.” To be clear (and I think it already IS clear) the case is about the mp3 files being in a shared folder. The crux of the case is NOT that they ripped CDs: it’s that they were in the shared folder. And in any case, I was responding to the comment, “It would be nice if a judge would start fining the RIAA for bullshit wastes of time like this. There is no justification for this being illegal.” Because the RIAA’s case is about supposed illegal sharing, it’s not really a waste of time: there is clear law and precedent that says that the sharing IS illegal. The RIAA’s justification is in the Copyright Act. Sorry if that wasn’t clearer to you.

    And there’s something you MUST understand: fighting piracy IS a means to make more money (at least in the RIAA’s mind). This is elementary. If the RIAA got its way, we’d buy CD for our home and car and we’d buy the mp3 (not rip) when we want to play them on an mp3 player. Each is a revenue stream. Piracy (the trading of free mp3s) breaks the revenue stream. Don’t kid yourself: these lawsuits are about making people think twice about trading free copies, or participating in piracy. To prove my point, just look at the amount of money the RIAA takes to settle these cases: it’s only a few thousand bucks each. That’s not a good business model.

    And, frankly, it’s ridiculous to say that the recording industry doesn’t embrace technology: just look at CDs. The industry jumped in revenue when people had to buy their vinyl in the new CD format. I can understand why they are pissed b/c the new format (mp3s) didn’t come with the same jump.

    Otherwise, I agree with what you say: the RIAA needs to be doing something else besides suing its customers…but just don’t accuse me of something I haven’t done.

  115. billy says:

    @cde: I don’t think the fact that royalties are paid precludes suit under the Copyright Act. I could be wrong, but it’s not in the citation you provided.

    In addition, the AHRA doesn’t cover hard drives. Most of the RIAA cases concern ripping to hard drives, so they wouldn’t get any money from the AHRA anyway.

    If you look at RIAA v. Diamond, it again bolsters the argument that while copying is possible from a CD via a computer, it doesn’t fall within the protection of the AHRA (hard drives are not considered digital audio recording devices by the court). I would imagine that CD ripping is, then, still under the Copyright Act (see the section where the court talks about files being “laundered” by passage through a computer.

    Also, because this case was specifically about mp3 players, this talk about CDs might be dicta…just like the wikipedia said.

  116. cde says:


    From the same Wiki Article
    The inclusion of this last group, reproduction rights holders, was unprecedented in United States copyright law. Almost thirty-nine percent of the royalties collected under the AHRA go not to songwriters and musicians, but to the record labels who own the right to copy and distribute their recordings. The justification for this cross subsidy is that the copying enabled by the digital technology is a loss of profits for the recording industry, and that they should be compensated for this loss.


    The AHRA contains one positive provision for the consumer electronics industry and consumers, section 1008, a “Prohibition on certain infringement actions:”

    No action may be brought under this title alleging infringement of copyright based on the manufacture, importation, or distribution of a digital audio recording device, a digital audio recording medium, an analog recording device, or an analog recording medium, or based on the noncommercial use by a consumer of such a device or medium for making digital musical recordings or analog musical recordings.

    Granted, it says no action under THIS title, but it makes it clear that the record companies are getting compensated for digital copies. But in this day and age, the idea that burning a mp3 cd, which would be allowed under the AHRA wouldn’t allow the same for a iPod or Rio, is a bit ludacris. Not to mention, would it differentiate for a harddrive based player if it was labeled for just audio AND included a line in option? So if I create a linux based computer only for music, network & harddrive based, it would be allowed, as long as thats all I used it for?

  117. iamme99 says:

    Interest tactic. Seems like the RIAA is positioning for an attempt to limit a song to the actual media that you purchased it on. This would of course be great news for music purveyor’s as it would significantly enhance the value of online download stores that are currently in vogue.

  118. bnb614 says:

    just look at the amount of money the RIAA takes to settle these cases: it’s only a few thousand bucks each. That’s not a good business model.

    Paying someone $10 a hour to comb p2p systems and then suing for $3,000 without having to even prove your case, but getting the $$ because the unemployed students don’t have the $$ to fight the case. That is one HELL of a good business model.

    Doing it under the guise of stopping artists from being ripped off, when the artist probably receives little or none of the settlement money? That is just one of many reasons they are the worst company in america.

  119. backbroken says:

    Holy crap! I was just watching some old home videos that we took at Aunt Etheline’s 83rd birthday party and realized that we accidentally recorded Barry Manilow’s Copacabana that was playing n the turntable at the party. Now I’m terrified that the RIAA is going to learn about this. Since we purchased Copacabana on vinyl, we are only authorized to play it on vinyl…but now we have 43 seconds of it as background music on 8mm video!

    Pardon me while I chuck all my home movies into the fireplace. Better safe than sorry.

  120. bnb614 says:

    @rubinow:That’s nonsense. Playing a CD for friends in a car is not “sharing” neither is it a “performance.” That’s pretty well established.
    I hate to be a dick, but a lot of people replying to the post just don’t have the facts straight.

    I think you are missing the point. People are making absurd points to show the absurdity of the RIAA’s argument.

    I was under the impression that the DRM in iTunes was there to act as a license so that you are only authorized to copy the mp3 or burn it a certain number of times. In other words: in some cases you are licensed to make copies.

    If you purchase a song from iTunes and send me the .m4a file and I try to play it through iTunes, it will ask me for your password. There is a limit to the # of computers you can “sign in” on. In terms of copying the mp3 or burning it to CD, I believe their is a limit to how many times that can be done. However, if I purchase a CD and import it into iTunes, and then send you those .m4a files, you can play them without being asked for my password. At least that is how I understand it to work.

    I think that the RIAA is trying to draw a distinction between moving copies of legally authorized mp3s from your computer to your mp3 player (this seems to be what that case specifically speaks about…it was deemed fair use) and copying a CD to ones computer for later upload to an mp3 player

    They may be trying to make said argument and I still say it is a bullshit argument. If I buy a CD and copy it to my computer, those mp3s are AUTHORIZED mp3s as far as I’m concerned. As long as I don’t upload it to a p2p system, I should be able to listen to my CD on my stereo, in my car CD player, on my computer, and on my iPod if I so choose. If that isn’t the case, make a sticker that says I can’t and I won’t buy that CD. I purchased a CD and it my personal use of it should not be impeded.

    Everyone remember the CDs sold that not only wouldn’t play on a computer but put software/spyware on your computer?

  121. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    @jenl1625: Why come the RIAA knows how many music files have been illegally downloaded to iPods, but TV/Movie producers can’t figure out how many shows were legally bought on iTunes?

  122. billy says:

    @cde: In re: the AHRA: the entire point of the AHRA is to offset some of the losses in copyright revenue from the sale of cassettes, blank CDs, and mp3 players. Through the Diamond Rio case, the court said that the RIAA is not entitled to a remittance for the sale of hard drives. It also doesn’t compensate or even explicitly allow for the ripping of unauthorized copywritten CDs for personal use. SO, how is it, again, as you’ve argued, that the RIAA is ignoring the AHRA by asking for copyright damages?

    As for your other questions: I’m not going to argue with you about Linux based systems and whatnot. All I can do is read the act. You can too. Do what you want.

  123. billy says:

    @bnb614: Let me spell it out for you: the RIAA claims that they’re losing millions to piracy/copyright infringement or whatever label you want to put on it. They are also spending millions to bring these cases. Even if they don’t spend a lot to comb p2p networks (and who really knows how much that costs) they are still out millions if they settle a handful of cases for a few thousand.

    No, the RIAA wants to strike fear in people and set a norm that it’s not OK to infringe their clients’ copyrights. It’s not a mistake that they sue the little guy. After all, if a “regular” person gets sued for something probably most people do anyway (ie downloading/uploading/copying music) it makes sense that more and more people would be scared to do it.

    Whether this works or not or is a good idea on the RIAA’s behalf in the first place is another story.

  124. cde says:

    @bnb614: Actually, iTunes drm files are m4p, while iTUnes Plus (un-drm) are m4a, and ripped tracks are acc (or mp3 if you choose mp3 instead of aac)

    @rubinow: Actually, the (1/2) reason the Rio was excempt was that it did not have a line in or mic in feature, which the iPod and most el cheapie flash mp3s do.

  125. billy says:

    @bnb614: I realize that some people are being absurd…but just as many are arguing from their gut (including the defendants in the case this whole article is about). Clearly people are kind of clueless. When people make absurd statement, it’s sometimes hard to weed them out.

    As for copying CDs into iTunes: I’m not sure why iTunes allows this, but I suspect that it has something to do with the Sony Betamax case allowing for the technology to exist when there might be legitimate uses. The AHRA also protects the facilitation of copying and is more concerned with the person who is doing the supposedly unauthorized act. In other words: under the current scheme Apple is off the hook. It obviously doesn’t work the other way, though, when a company authorizes Apple to sell its songs with an explicit licensing agreement backed by DRM. If Apple breaks that agreement with the copyright holder, though, that’s a contract issue, not copyright.

    And it’s not a bullshit argument if that’s what the law states. You can’t really authorize somebody else’s copyrighted material: you don’t have the right to do that.

  126. billy says:

    @cde: I realize that, but it doesn’t get to the original poster’s contention that ripping CDs to a hard drive or sharing them is covered by the AHRA.

  127. McMaggot says:

    The reason so few of us artists speak up is because in the corporate music industry, we’re truly the lowest on the food chain. Hopefully this will change as the corporate dinosaurs die off, but just nullifying copyright for music won’t change things much for artists.. even a fair percentage of nothing is still nothing.

    I rip CDs. MP3s are convenient. I firmly believe this is my right.

    My opinion is that it’s scandalous that they are making this point. I hope someone like the EFF helps the defendants appeal if this case has implications for personal use ripping of CDs. It certainly creates FUD which they probably don’t mind either.

    I also have to say I didn’t authorize the RIAA lawyer scum to accuse me of being a criminal, so I’m not going to pay attention to this or change my behavior in any way. :)

  128. bnb614 says:

    No, the RIAA wants to strike fear in people and set a norm that it’s not OK to infringe their clients’ copyrights.

    Well they are about 5 years too late. I don’t agree with stealing music but I have no sympathy for the RIAA or the major labels. If they want to fight pirates, I am all for it, but going after people who don’t upload and trying to quash personal CD ripping and friends sharing CDs (mixed cassette tapes anyone?) and fighting file sharing platforms that can be used for legitimate purposes turns me and pretty much everyone else off.

  129. bnb614 says:

    To elaborate, if they want to fight people that are uploading a lot of CDs to p2p platforms for people to share, I am all for that.

    But trying to scare people by insinuating that if they rip their CD to their computer that is illegal, or sharing a CD with a friend is wrong, is total bullshit.

    They are over-reaching and trying to use alot of $$ to quash those with specious arguments who can’t fight back so they make more $$ in the long run.

    If they think they can stop friends from sharing CDs and checking out new songs from friends, I think they are insane.

    The fact is, if any of us wanted to hear a new CD, with little or no effort I bet we could find a copy online.

  130. Buran says:

    Hey RIAA: I decide what’s authorized in MY HOUSE. Now go wither and die.

  131. chrishop says:

    My question is if I download an mp3 from say itunes and then make a CD from it is that violating any fair use policy?

  132. chrishop says:

    Oh and btw screw the RIAA

  133. cde says:

    @rubinow: Actually, if Apple broke the contract they had, it is both a contract tort/dispute as well as Copyright infringement, because once the contract is broken, authorization for the copyright is lost.

    @chrishop: No, as the license you receive from Apple on part of the Copyright holder allows you to do it. With the drm-free iTunes songs, you are free to burn them as many times as you want, as long as you follow copyright law and do not distribute without a license from the copyright holder (which you have to re-negotiate)

  134. endlessendres says:

    Sorta off topic, but still on the RIAA, has results of this court sanction happened yet? []

  135. billy says:

    @bnb614: No shit, they’re too late.

  136. AstroPig7 says:

    @LionelEHutz: RIAA Radar would be far more useful if, whenever I looked up an album, it didn“t return several conflicting entries for the same album.

  137. Gawg says:

    Next the RIAA will say, “By listening to your own purchased CD’s you are coping them into your brain.” I’ve stopped listening.

  138. chrishop says:

    @cde: Yes I am aware of that. I was being slightly sarcastic. I was just demonstrating that it is not a 2 way street apparently.

  139. GothamGal says:

    So if I buy it and make a copy, it is illegal and if I download it, it is illegal. I wonder which one I will choose next time.

  140. scoosdad says:

    @cde: What does Sony have to do with this case? They’re not the plaintiffs.

  141. scoosdad says:

    @cde: On the other hand, if you wanted to pursue that line of defense, this is an even better example than that Sony MP3 player or minidisk recorder:


    From vinyl to digital USB in one easy, Sony-enabled step!

  142. billy says:

    @Hedgy2136: They DO recover fees for public airing of their property. That’s their job.