RIAA Goes After Fair Use

Ripping CDs that you own for your personal use should be OK, right?  Not according to the RIAA.

Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

The industry's lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings.

"I couldn't believe it when I read that," says Ray Beckerman, a New York lawyer who represents six clients who have been sued by the RIAA.

This pits the RIAA against itself in a sense.  In MGM vs. Grokster, the RIAA said this type of ripping was fine. On their own website, the RIAA says  "burning a copy of CD onto a CD-R, or transferring a copy onto your computer hard drive or your portable music player, won’t usually raise concerns so long as: 'The copy is made from an authorized original CD that you legitimately own.'

Tags:  RIAA, AA, air, Fair use, AI