Sunday, December 30, 2007


The Recording Industry Of America has reached a new plateau in it's desperate attempt to increase profits.

For the past few years the RIAA has initiated over 20,000 lawsuits against many consumers it claims downloaded music illegally. Damages in the thousands are thrust upon unsuspecting music lovers who may have just a few songs on their computers that they can't account for. Earlier this year, a Minnesota woman was ordered to pay $220,000.00 for 24 songs she was sharing online.

Now The RIAA has decided that even if you simply copy music CDs that you already own onto your computer, you are breaking the law! In a federal case against Jeffrey Howell, of Scottsdale, Ariz., the Industry maintains that the 2,000 or so songs on Howell's computer constitute copyright infringement. Never mind that Howell paid for all the songs and wasn't sharing them with anyone.

According to the RIAA web site: "If you make unauthorized copies of copyrighted music recordings, you're stealing. You're breaking the law and you could be held legally liable for thousands of dollars in damages." The RIAA apparently sees illegal downloading and file sharing online and making a "personal use" copy of music you already paid for, as equally egregious acts.

The Industry is too short sighted to realize that, by limiting copying of music for personal use, their product loses much of it's value. How many people would buy CDs if they couldn't transfer them to listen on their iPods, on their computers or keep a copy in their cars? Lessening the value by restricting use can only weaken demand, negatively effect sales and bottom line profit.

According to Ray Beckerman, a New York lawyer who represents six clients who have been sued by the RIAA, "The basic principle in the law is that you have to distribute actual physical copies to be guilty of violating copyright."

The Industry promises to continue shooting itself in the foot. They "will continue to bring lawsuits" against those who "ignore years of warnings," RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy said in a statement.

Unfortunately, The RIAA's rabid enforcement tactics are a negative publicity nightmare. And their latest legal crusade may backfire. A series of court rulings over the last few decades that found no violation of copyright law in the use of VCRs and other devices to make personal copies for the purpose of making portable a legally obtained recording.

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