AARC Representing 300 Music Artists Sues Ford And GM For In-Car CD Ripping Technology

In what qualifies as one of those, 'Are you freaking serious?' moments, the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies (AARC) is suing auto makers Ford and GM for selling cars with technology to rip music from CDs. The feature that has the AARC in a tizzy is called Jukebox, which records songs from CDs to the infotainment system's hard drive, a feature that's been available on Ford vehicles since at least 2011.

AARC is a non-profit organization representing more than 300,000 music artists. Like the RIAA, these types of copyright organizations have largely turned a blind eye to ripping music for personal use, so long as the tracks aren't being shared, traded, sold, and so forth. However, AARC found a technicality that it feels justifies going after Ford and GM.

Ford Infotainment

As ComputerWorld explains, the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 makes it illegal to distribute digital audio recording devices whose primary purpose is to rip copyrighted material. Part of the reason consumers aren't targeted for ripping music at home on their computers is because the PC was never marketed as a musical recording device.

Turning the attention to Ford and GM, AARC's lawsuit claims that they "designed these devices for the express purpose of copying CDs and other digital recordings to a hard drive on the devices, and they market these devices emphasizing that copying function."

It's an idiotic loophole, but to the letter of the law, AARC may have a case. To avoid lawsuits like this, AARC states in its filing that "multi-billion dollar companies" are exempt if they bake in certain copy control technology and fork over a "modest royalty per device."