The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has been fighting a losing battle for years, bringing thousands of lawsuits against ordinary people over illegal file sharing. Now it’s trying to take that fight one stage further, by criminalising anyone and everyone who has ever backed up, or transferred a legally bought CD to their computer.
The RIAA is currently involved in an ongoing court battle with one Jeffrey Howell, one of those stalwarts who refuse to just roll over, let the bullies tickle their bellies, and pay the fine. As part of that case, the organisation has lodged documents which condemns mp3s stored on computers from legally bought CDs as unauthorized copies of copyrighted recordings.
The industry, through their lawyer in the case Ira Schwartz, has had to go down this route, as Howell maintains that the files he’s being chased over were for personal use only. The RIAA’s new stance that even personal use copies on PCs and mp3 players are still illegal makes not only Howell a criminal, but also every single person in the world who has ripped a song from a disc, ie. 90% of the population.
Ray Beckerman, a lawyer who has represented six clients sued by the RIAA told The Washington Post:
“I couldn’t believe it when I read that. The basic principle in the law is that you have to distribute actual physical copies to be guilty of violating copyright. But recently, the industry has been going around saying that even a personal copy on your computer is a violation.”
It’s not like the RIAA are all bad, and they are in effect just fighting for their industry. But not only have the bullying tactics made them look like the bad guys in this whole business, they then choose to target most of the population with this potty upstepping of the thin blue line.
Let’s remember after all that people who copy CDs to their computers are the people on the right side of the law, those who are going in to record stores and purchasing their CDs. To then go and criminalise those law abiding citizens goes against any sane thought or value I thought was present in this world.
The results of this case could end up affecting people who up to now thought they were safe from the hoods over at the RIAA. If the judge rules on their side, and in the process makes criminals out of anyone with an mp3 on their computer, then not only will common sense have gone out of the world, but a large portion of America will suddenly be law breakers.
It’s about time the RIAA woke up and smelt the roses, as the industry, and business model they are continuing to support has moved on, and is currently forging ahead without them being a part of it. Digital downloads, of all media, not just music, is the future, and the sooner they embrace it, the better for us all.