RIAA: Those CD rips of yours are still "unauthorized"

Those MP3 and AAC files that you've ripped from your CD collection are still "unauthorized copies" in the eyes of the recording industry. In a brief filed late last week, the RIAA said that the MP3 files on a PC owned by a file-sharing defendant who had admitted to ripping them himself were "unauthorized copies."

Atlantic v. Howell is a bit unusual because the defendants, husband and wife Jeffrey and Pamela Howell, are defending themselves against the recording industry's lawsuit without the benefit of a lawyer. They were sued by the RIAA in August 2006 after an investigator from SafeNet discovered evidence of file-sharing over the KaZaA network.

The Howells have denied any copyright infringement on their part. In their response to the RIAA's lawsuit, they said that the MP3 files on their PC are and "always have been" for private use. "The files in question are for transfer to portable devices, that is legal for 'fair use,'" reads their response.

After several years of litigation and nearly 30,000 lawsuits, making a copy of a CD you bought for your own personal usage is still a concept that the recording industry is apparently uncomfortable with. During the Jammie Thomas trial this fall, the head of litigation from Sony BMG testified that she believed that ripping your own CDs is stealing.

When asked by the RIAA's lead counsel whether it was wrong for consumers to make copies of CDs they have purchased, Jennifer Pariser replied in the negative. "When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song," said Pariser. Making "a copy" of a song you own is just "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy'," according to Pariser.

News source: Arstehnica.com

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