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CD ripping, backups not fair use?

(February 17 2006) Written by: Joe Conley

Content-related industries including members of the RIAA and MPAA have filed with the government saying the Digital Millenium Copyright Act needs to be extended to outlaw backing up CDs and DVDs you own, and even moving the contents of a CD to your MP3 player.

"With regards to the argument that the DMCA is bad law because it prevents users from making backups, the joint reply dismissed such arguments as "uncompelling." First, they argue that there is no evidence that "any of the relevant media are 'unusually subject to damage in the ordinary course of their use.'" This "cart-before-the-horse" argument suggests that people do not need to backup anything that does not have a high failure rate—a view that fundamentally misunderstands the purpose of backups.

Just because people have been copying CDs in the past doesn't mean that that they had the authorization to do so, and a general trend does not override such explicit authorization. But as the EFF has picked up, the RIAA is engaging in a little historical revision. Their last comment about the Grokster case is attempting to change the substance of comments that were uttered by their own legal counsel. Why they would do this is abundantly clear when you see the statement in question:

"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."

It looks like someone is having a change of heart.


Forget fair use. Forget historical precedent. The joint reply here is arguing that copyright owners have the authority to deny what has become fair use—what their own lawyers have admitted is fair use in front of the Supreme Court of the United States. The upshot is that this argument suggests that the most common form of CD "copying"—namely ripping CDs for use on computers and portable players—is not necessarily fair use. "

My question is, who will actually go out and buy CDs if it's going to be illegal to put them on your iPod?

I'm just waiting until the day where the big industry execs say "You can buy our music, but you can't listen to it within ear-shot of another human being."

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