I'm so bo-o-o-red with the RIAA (but what can I do?)

We're all "thieves", most of us just haven't been caught yet

So, just to be clear. We're all thieves here, right?

That's the implication of documents filed by the RIAA earlier this week in Atlantic v. Howell, yet another file-swapping case underway in Arizona.

At issue: whether simply putting a CD into your PC and ripping the tunes to MP3s constitutes "unauthorized copies" (i.e., stolen goods) in the recording industry's eyes.

Yes, says attorney Ray Beckerman, who carefully tends the Recording Industry vs. the People blog. Not really, say some bloggers, who have parsed the RIAA's language about "unauthorized copies" to mean only those MP3s residing in your Kazaa share folder.

It's really a moot argument. The fact is, if the recording industry could ban ripping MP3s outright --- or charge you money for it -- they'd do it in a heartbeat. Your right to make personal copies of music you've legally purchased stems from the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992, which the recording industry staunchly opposed. The RIAA tried to kill portable MP3 players in 1999, claiming the AHRA didn't apply to them, and is currently trying to kill off your ability to cache satellite radio transmissions. It has declared open war on consumers who dare to burn CDs from their digital music collections and give them to friends as gifts.

Along with the movie and television industries, the record companies have been trying to erode -- if not erase -- your Fair Use rights ever since. Unfortunately, they have a big pal in Uncle Sam, which earlier this month intervened in the Jammie Thomas case, declaring the US$222,000 fine imposed by the court to be constitutional. Apparently the wars on terror, crime, and government corruption aren't quite enough to fill the DOJ's docket.

Sympathetic geeks have started an online forum where Jammie Thomas fans can gab about her case -- though, frankly, you'd find more people at a "Pauly Shore sings songs of Bertolt Brecht" concert than you will at FreeJammie. To raise money for her defense, Thomas is selling T-shirts, sweatshirts and thongs with the slogan "Free Jammie" on them. (It's not clear whether the thongs are pre-worn, thought that shouldn't deter sales. As we all know, sharing songs is stealing, but sharing thongs is perfectly OK.)

Why should anyone else care about the trials and tribulations of a file-swapping Minnesota housewife? As Security Focus blogger (and attorney) Mark Rasch points out:

there are several problems with the Thomas case. First and foremost, it really does not recognize - as current copyright law fails to recognize - the way normal, and presumedly law-abiding, people use the Internet. Indeed, the odds are very good that you committed a copyright infringement this morning, and, if not, you will by the end of the day.

In other words: We're all Jammie Thomas. Most of us just haven't gotten caught yet.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert X. Cringely

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?