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RIAA Not Suing Over CD Ripping, Still Calling Rips 'Unauthorized'

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the so-it's-only-halfway-evil dept.

Businesses 175

An Engadget article notes that the Washington Post RIAA article we discussed earlier today may have been poorly phrased. The original article implied that the Association's suit stemmed from the music ripping. As it actually stands the defendant isn't being sued over CD ripping, but for placing files in a shared directory. Engadget notes that the difference here is that the RIAA is deliberately describing ripped MP3 backups as 'unauthorized copies' ... "something it's been doing quietly for a while, but now it looks like the gloves are off. While there's a pretty good argument for the legality of ripping under the market factor of fair use, it's never actually been ruled as such by a judge -- so paradoxically, the RIAA might be shooting itself in the foot here."

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Shooting in foot (3, Insightful)

Matt867 (1184557) | more than 6 years ago | (#21858888)

"so paradoxically, the RIAA might be shooting itself in the foot here." Somehow or another the bullet will wind up in the foot of a consumer.

How are they shooting themselves in the foot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21859300)

"While there's a pretty good argument for the legality of ripping under the market factor of fair use, it's never actually been ruled as such by a judge -- so paradoxically, the RIAA might be shooting itself in the foot here."

What? How are they shooting themselves in the foot? Either the judge rules that ripping is fair use, in which case RIAA has lost nothing. . . because that is already the status quo, or the judge rules that it is illegal (doubtful, but hey), and they have gained a new way to sue people.

Now, I could certainly see the argument that *suing people* is shooting themselves in the foot, by developing ill will towards the member labels, but I don't see how testing a legal theory which has not yet been tested is shooting themselves in the foot? Shooting yourself in the foot implies that if you succeed in your goal, you are hurting yourself. It could be that declaring ripping illegal hurts them somehow, but the linked article fails to develop that idea.

Re:How are they shooting themselves in the foot? (4, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859442)

Because the status quo is nothing more than a de facto presumption of legality. At such point as a judge rules that it is legal, that becomes legal precedent. The last thing they want is for format shifting to be ruled fair use, since they have made their living over the decades precisely through reselling the same content in different formats over and over again.

More to the point, format shifting at least currently is only presumed to be fair use when done by an individual. Depending on how a ruling on format shifting was worded, there's at least the potential that it might make it legal for someone to set up a commercial format shifting service that provides crystal clear digital copies of your worn out phonograph records without paying the RIAA, its members, the composer, artist, or publisher a dime. Nothing would scare a greedy, corrupt cartel like the RIAA more than the risk of format shifting becoming de jure legal in the more general case, as that would mean that they basically would have to make a living entirely by creating new music that is worth listening to, something which they haven't, IMHO, done successfully in a very long time. :-D

Re:How are they shooting themselves in the foot? (3, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860090)

In other words, they've been milking the oldies for so long they can't imagine any other way to make money from music. What happens if I have an old VHS recording that I want to shift to a DVD ... seems to me the same issues would apply. Hell, what if I have a book that I want to convert to an electronic format so I can shift it to my portable reader. The outcome of the RIAA's crusade will have effects well beyond music.

Re:How are they shooting themselves in the foot? (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860664)

Actually I think the book example is more compelling for an external company to do the format shifting for you: most people can't scan and OCR a whole book very easily.

Not everyone is willing to get a very expensive non-destructive book scanner or to cut off the binding and run the pages through a self-feeding scanner.

Re:How are they shooting themselves in the foot? (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860602)

Nothing would scare a greedy, corrupt cartel like the RIAA more than the risk of format shifting becoming de jure legal in the more general case, as that would mean that they basically would have to make a living entirely by creating new music that is worth listening to, something which they haven't, IMHO, done successfully in a very long time.
Call up a recording company. Ask them for a prospectus, including their revenue ration of "new" to "old" music.

Re:How are they shooting themselves in the foot? (3, Insightful)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859704)

What? How are they shooting themselves in the foot?

Because people want fairness more than they want the letter of the law. To most of us, it seems fair that distributing copies to people in defiance of ownership type rights is unfair. Most juries (in the U. S. at least), would award damages for a case of someone distributing something they don't own the right to distribute. Many, probably most there would approve of criminal charges.
        But juries usually want to be 'fair'. 'Fair' means that it's much more serious to sell copies for substantial profit than to pass them around for 'free'. 'Fair' means that off air recording is either not wrong, or it's a pretty trivial wrong. 'Fair' means they don't want a EULA to be the equivalent of a normal signed paper contract.
        So when the recording industry starts claiming that their rights are being violated by people making legitimate backups, or not buying a second copy to use in the car, or using a VCR for space or time shifting, or lots of other thing, the recording industry starts looking like Darth Vader/Simon Legree/Satan, etc. They come off as anal-compulsive jerks trying to give basically honest people a hard time, rip off little old ladies, tie Nell Fenwick to the tracks, and probably eat live kittens on their days off.
        And the jury is looking for any chance to do what's 'fair' to Baelzebub/Snydley Whiplash/Hannibal Lecter. So, they don't just reject the arguement that ripping is a violation of fair use, they look for excuses to reject the rest of the RIAA's claim as well. Any excuse.
   

Re:How are they shooting themselves in the foot? (2, Insightful)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860408)

If you want to prove that ripping a CD is fair use, you need to test it in court. It is the job of the courts to decide the fine details of law.

In the UK, it would be called Fair Dealing, and has never been tested in a Court of Law. Therefore the Authorities can assume it is illegal, giving the police powers of arrest for the cassettes in people's cars that they taped from CDs using equipment that they bought in good faith for that purpose. In practice, however, so many people are doing it that nobody gets arrested. The only way it can be useful is as part of a "fishing expedition" where, on the basis of the existence illegally-copied cassettes about a suspect's person, premises or vehicle, a warrant is obtained to search for something more "interesting". By the time it gets to court, the tapes will be conveniently forgotten. This is all deliberate. It's not going to be tested in court. Out of a jury of twelve people, at least eleven of them have at least one home-taped cassette in their car. They aren't going to convict. If they did, the record companies might be happy for a moment; but in the real world, the police would have a field day stopping motorists to search for illegal tapes and there would be uproar. Strikes, rioting in the streets, that sort of thing, and the Government would be forced to intervene and explicitly legalise home taping (and, therefore, by analogy, ripping CDs to MP3s; although this might require another test case and a motion summarily to dismiss on the basis of similarity to an earlier case). If the jury acquit, of course, then home taping is automatically legalised. Either way, the record company fat cats lose! This is why the present situation persists: the Authorities get to feel they have a lever they can use against criminals, and the People get to feel they are doing something deliciously subversive. The only thing that would get in the way of this happy win-win situation would be for the legality of format-shifting to be tested in Court -- and it's the Authorities who control which cases get heard.

I suspect the situation would be similar in the USA. Declaring a near-universal practice to be criminal would be suicide for any government. Even if it only works out to be the case that format-shifting is legalised in one state, you can bet there will be movements to legalise it in others. The record companies aren't going to like that, so they won't bring a case to court if there's a real possibility that format-shifting could be declared Fair Use as a result.

Re:How are they shooting themselves in the foot? (1)

pasamio (737659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860594)

I'm not in the UK but I would have thought that the whole innocent until proven guilty thing would come into play here where if it hasn't actually been proven in court then it isn't actually grounds to make arrests on. Given that the original premise is usually forgotten, surely if it might be challenged as a reason and found to be not accurate that the results of the entire search should then be thrown out on the basis it was an illegal search. The "crime" that has been committed is actually a civil one from what I can tell, not a a criminal one, so I fail to see why the police would involve themselves. You are infringing on the rights of another which results in civil action to restore damages to the party. As yet I haven't seen anyone thrown in jail for it, just sued for damages.

Re:How are they shooting themselves in the foot? (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860866)

Copyright infringement is criminal in the UK. Most offences here are indeed "innocent until proven guilty", though there are "guilty until proven innocent" offences (e.g. racism, terrorism) and "guilty despite being proved innocent" offences (anything sexual).

Just because something isn't definitely an offence doesn't mean you can't be arrested for it if a constable thinks it looks like an offence, and detained while they work out whether or not it was an offence or whether you may have done something else which was definitely an offence. If they think you have, they can hold onto you for that.

(On a deeper level, there are "law abiding citizens" and "criminals". Which group you belong to has little relation to whether or not what you are doing is actually illegal. In fact, most things are illegal in the UK; but as long as you are a Law Abiding Citizen, you can get away with them. If a Criminal tried the same things, they would be arrested. It is not always easy for a visitor to tell the difference between L.A.C.s and Criminals, but watch what goes on on a typical British housing estate to work out who is who.)

Re:Shooting in foot (3, Informative)

voisine (153062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860118)

I'm not sure they're shooting anything. Ripping a CD *is* unauthorized by the copyright holder. Fortunately, copyright law does not require authorization for such things.

Re:Shooting in foot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21860134)

It's quite simple from the RIAA's point of view.

  They step on your face, then shoot themselves in the foot. Works well enough.

They're explictly going against Copyright law (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860550)

They're definitely shooting themselves in the foot though. By saying that legally allowed so-called "ripping" is "unauthorised", What they're doing is essentially saying is that they don't recognised the law's jurisdiction.

This could easily come back to haunt them in a court of law, if it's able to be presented as evidence of intent or behaviour. Somehow I think they'll get away with it though. A company with enough time and lobbying power on its hands can easily direct (usually pervert) the cause of justice, unlike citizens sadly. Our only hope is if they directly piss off enough consumers that they consumers really turn on them and bring down the hole system by boycotting them or creating a better system. Which, laughably, is how this all started, with the better systems provided by the internet.

/. retraction? (1)

WizMaster (974384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21858892)

Why not have better summaries from submitters who RTFA?

On topic, this is still bad. If the RIAA can get people to think rips are "unathorized" copies they will be able to disregard fair play soon. It's like watching a predator biding it's time and preparing for the right time to strike.

Re:/. retraction? (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859012)

Why not have better summaries from submitters who RTFA?

The problem wasn't the summary (of the previous /. article) - but the Washington Post article (referenced in the other /. post) - which was misleading.

Because /. would lose it's sensationalist angles. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21859026)

For a site that supposedly prides itself on unbiased news, Slashdot sure seems to be an even worse panderer of yellow style news presentation than Fox. Actual un-sensationalist summaries are the exception, not the rule.

Re:Because /. would lose it's sensationalist angle (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859134)

Maybe, but Fox claims to be a professional news organization. Slashdot doesn't, and in fact just takes stories from anybody ... no real journalism involved. Slashdot is also pretty open about that, and doesn't claim to be anything other than what it is. Really, you should be criticizing Fox for being down at Slashdot's level.

Re:Because /. would lose it's sensationalist angle (1)

slughead (592713) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860338)

Fox claims to be a professional news organization. Slashdot doesn't, and in fact just takes stories from anybody ... no real journalism involved.

Define "professional".. and while you're at it, define 'real journalism'.

There are no real active peer reviewers anywhere, and no real consequences for printing falsehoods unless they're just totally false and against someone very powerful. If Dan Rather hadn't actually shown those fake Bush Nat'l Guard [wikipedia.org] records on national television (60 minutes), would anybody have ever figured it out?

Jason Blair [wikipedia.org] worked for the New York Times printing bogus stories for at least a year before he was found out. What if he'd just been more careful?

I don't think there is a line between 'real' journalists and bloggers, and that's not to say that I think bloggers have especially high integrity or professionalism, either. There is no real distinction between the two.

Re:/. retraction? (4, Informative)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859058)

If the RIAA can get people to think rips are "unathorized" copies they will be able to disregard fair play soon.

"Fair use" I think you mean. They'll have a hard time convincing consumers that it is morally wrong to rip their discs: ripping is a pretty entrenched idea now. People like me that started out on vinyl "ripping" to reel-to-reel will never accept there's a damned thing wrong with that. The only hope they have is getting another rewrite of copyright law pushed through Congress, which is far more likely.

More and more, I see the RIAA as a major league loose cannon, with repercussions for the studios that I have to believe they haven't fully considered. I know the studios are just biding their time, waiting to see just how much the RIAA can win for them in terms of legal precedent, copyright modifications, and alterations in public attitude towards copyright infringement. Still, I can't help but think this is going to be self-defeating in the long run. I haven't bought any big studio music in twenty five years, and I don't plan to start. They've already lost me as customer, permanently. If they keep going the way they're going (lawsuits, threats and intimidation, high prices, poor quality) they're going to lose more.

Re:/. retraction? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21859126)

Perhaps "fair play" is where the RIAA insist that you do not play any of their "products" (sic) at a volume such that it may be heard by anyone else outside a radius of 2 feet of your personal space, as this might be interpreted by some senile old fart^H^H^H^Hjudge as unauthorised sharing.

Re:/. retraction? (1)

WizMaster (974384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859720)

You are correct, I meant "fair use". Although I do believe ripping is entrenched, american law is wonky. If you break into a house, get hurt, sue the home owners, and win then I believe the RIAA can pass some BS like this. I hope not but I'm a cycnical guy.

Re:/. retraction? (1)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860896)

If you are referring to this [snopes.com] , it's been debunked. I still see where you are coming from however; some decisions made are stupid in courts especially as far as lawsuits. However, there is no way in hell CD ripping for personal use would be found unlawful in court, and if it ever was, the decision would be reversed within days at the most. A stupid jury or an unaware judge are possibilities but the uproar of the American public who would have virtually every media corporation and/or outlet behind them regardless of political bias has a way of swaying the court's decision. George Bush owns an iPod. Trust me, that will never stand if it even somehow got to that point.

Hooray for Flip-Flopping! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21858930)

Or am I the only one that remembers when they went before the supreme court they said it was okay to rip from CDs to put songs on their iPods?

imagine that (5, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#21858934)

Comment I posted in a firehose [slashdot.org] story (which took all of 30 seconds to realize the summary was simplistic and wrong):

More Info

here [washingtonpost.com] and here [arstechnica.com]

Looks like the person in question was using Kazaa, which listed his mp3 files, although they weren't actually shared (uhh ... does kazaa publish them if they're not shared?) Media Sentry found them (but didn't actually download them?). He represented himself and lost big time.

Re:imagine that (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21859338)

Misleading stories are no stranger to slashdot of course.

The amazing thing is that we actually have a new story to correct the old?! In nearly 10 years I don't think I've ever seen something so close to an actual retraction on slashdot!

Re:imagine that (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21859354)

You can also find more info on the contactlog blog [contactlog.net] , it is fairly ridiculous.

Nope, try again... (5, Informative)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#21858936)

As it actually stands the defendant isn't being sued over CD ripping, but for 'old-fashioned' song downloading.

Still wrong.

They sued him over uploading, or at least, having the files in question in his Kazaa shared folder.

Yes, they may have "taken the gloves off" regarding their terminology, but this case has the exact same underlying "offense" as the thousands of other RIAA lawsuits we've heard about in the past few years.

The RIAA is correct for once! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21858942)

These copies are unauthorized!

However, these copies are not illegal.

Under fair use, you are allowed to make copies for your personal use, and it is perfectly legal.

In this case, "unauthorized" is used in the sense of "Britney Spears Unauthorized Biography" instead of "Britney Spears Authorized Biography". Both are perfectly legal.

A sad sign of the times... (4, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859098)

When "unauthorized" is automatically equated to "illegal" we have a problem in our society. Are we required to ask for authorization from someone to do everything now?

Re:A sad sign of the times... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21859226)

Are we required to ask for authorization from someone to do everything now?

No. That comes later.

Re:A sad sign of the times... (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860518)

Personally, I'm wondering when RIAA is going to force the manufacturers to make car radios that require you to plug in a credit card before you can turn it on.

It's the next logical step.

Re:A sad sign of the times... (4, Insightful)

CajunArson (465943) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859328)

Maybe people on Slashdot have a problem when they equate "unauthorized" with "illegal" which they have done countless times in order to make the RIAA look bad. The RIAA is arguing in court filings that it does not "authorize" ripping of CD's.... which is 100% correct... it does NOT authorize you to rip from a CD. However, that is also completely meaningless as well. If I buy a car, the car maker does not "authorize" me to drive the car, paint the car, put gas in the car, etc. etc. etc. So what, authorization is completely irrelevant.

Re:A sad sign of the times... (2, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859742)

The RIAA is arguing in court filings that it does not "authorize" ripping of CD's.... which is 100% correct... it does NOT authorize you to rip from a CD. However, that is also completely meaningless as well.

So, the RIAA is allowed to make frivolous statements in court? I remember that the last time (in 1992) I had a conversation with someone at the IRS about my income tax, one of my arguments was rejected on the basis that it was "frivolous" (i.e. completely meaningless), and the person there told me that a "frivolous" income tax filling was subject to a fine ($250, IIRC).


When you are not a lawyer and try to represent yourself, you are subject to being threatened by a "frivolous" fine, but the RIAA has lawyers enough to know when an argument is completely meaningless from the POV of the law.

Re:A sad sign of the times... (1)

Stefanwulf (1032430) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859918)

Now I'm not a lawyer and all that, but my bet would be that while calling a fair-use copy "unauthorized" doesn't change the legality, a copy's being explicitly authorized would certainly impact the validity of their argument, or at the very least require further examination of the specific terms under which authorization was granted. If that's so, then clearly specifying whether or not a copy was made with authorization suddenly becomes quite relevant.

(And as a postscript, even if the word were truly meaningless from a legal perspective, it seems to me that there is a substantial difference between a frivolous adjective used in an argument which has merit and an argument which is fundamentally frivolous)

Re:A sad sign of the times... (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859584)

Well, to be fair, copyright is all about making "unauthorised" equal "illegal", with a few caveats. It's a sad sign of the state of fair use, that it's so eroded and ignored, that people assume that, just because the RIAA imply so, ripping is illegal.

Perhaps, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21860700)

If I had to bet, as far as the RIAA is concerned, "unauthorized" might as well be "illegal" because they sure aren't happy about it. I think someone pointed out, in the prior story, that the RIAA's own FAQ said something like that, but that they wouldn't generally sue you over them unless you shared it (I'm paraphrasing here).

It's times like this that make me want to figure out how to build a large EMP weapon, visit RIAA HQ, and tell them that their internet usage is "unauthorized" and that they need to shape up or ship out :-)

Re:A sad sign of the times... (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21861028)

Are we required to ask for authorization from someone to do everything now?

Yes we are! How else do you explain Vista UAC?!

Cancel or Allow?

Re:The RIAA is correct for once! (1)

ProfessionalCookie (673314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859210)

Yeah- and who uses AAC/MP3 for backup??? If anything the lossy file is for primary use and the CD/FLAC is for backup.

Re:The RIAA is correct for once! (1)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860624)

Right. I don't authorize the existence of RIAA, and it means about the same thing.

slashdot = RIAA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21858948)

slashdot is nothing but a bunch of RIAA stooges

What? (1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 6 years ago | (#21858954)

You mean the "editors" or should I call them janitors at slashdot not bother to read an article before posting?

Re:What? (2, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859050)

They may have read the article, but the article sucked. If you put any amount of thought into it, you would wonder how the RIAA would randomly pick someone and sue them for ripping CDs for personal use. A google later you'd find out that he was originally identified as a kazaa user, went to court without a lawyer, and lost.

Re:What? (1)

feuerfalke (1034288) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859216)

More like the article itself omitted that little detail.

The RIAA and the MPAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21858958)

The RIAA and the MPAA can go frell themselves. I will continue to do as I please.

Of course it's unauthorized (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21858962)

But is it illegal?

Re:Of course it's unauthorized (1)

zcat_NZ (267672) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859578)

And more importantly..

    "will it blend?"

Re:Of course it's unauthorized (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860526)

Screw that.

Will it run Linux on a Beowulf cluster in Soviet Russia?

Re:Of course it's unauthorized (1)

zcat_NZ (267672) | more than 6 years ago | (#21861082)

in Soviet Russia a Beowulf cluster runs Linux on you!

Unauthorized copies. (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21858986)

Engadget notes that the difference here is that the RIAA is deliberately describing ripped MP3 backups as 'unauthorized copies'...
I guess if you want to get technical, rips are "unauthorized" in the sense that the music industry doesn't grant us specific permission to perform such backup and shifting operations. Thank goodness fair use doctrine does.

Re:Unauthorized copies. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21860828)

Technically speaking, my reading aloud of bedtime stories to my children is also unauthorized by the publisher of the book, so is my teeth brushing (or non-brushing) by the publisher of ... me. But wait, there is a way of this lemming dilemma! RIAA, the totalitarian monopolist, is using Goebels-like constructs to drum up a business by trying to erode fundamental liberties. All for a buck. Let's understand that and deal with them accordingly. Enough with greedy oppressors. End I don't stop with just RIAA either. The Patriot act is next... I mean first, but some of the protagonists - in this Mickey Mouse empire - play in establishment of both!!!

Well, technically they *are* unauthorized (4, Informative)

crankyspice (63953) | more than 6 years ago | (#21858992)

I think, if a judge were ever to rule on the specific question of song ripping, it would be held as a fair use, extending the thinking in RIAA v. Diamond Multimedia (which extended the Audio Home Recording Act to 'space shifting' a track -- copying it from a computer to a handheld, for instance. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=9th&navby=case&no=9856727 [findlaw.com]

Just because something has a fair use defense, however, does not mean it was authorized. In fact, asserting a fair use defense is a tacit acknowledgement that the copyright holder did not authorize the use, hence the need to rely on the fair use doctrine.

Finally, even if ripping tracks is a fair use (likely), putting them online for someone else (especially if that someone else is not within the sphere of your private household, going by the text of the AHRA and the legislative record behind it) to download is certainly unauthorized and (per every court that's looked at it, e.g., Napster, Grokster, Aimster, etc) not within the fair use doctrine.

Still not accurate (4, Informative)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21858998)

What the RIAA said in their court filing was that copies that are ripped and placed in a shared folder are unauthorized copies. They did not say anything about copies that are ripped but not shared.

This is significant because fair use depends on the purpose of the copying. Copying to put on your portable player would be a totally different situation under a fair use analysis than copying to give away to strangers on the internet.

At least in this case, they aren't trying to argue that all ripping is illegal--just this defendant's ripping. (And in other cases, they have said that ripping for your portable player is OK).

I believe that there are similar considerations if a defense under the Audio Home Recording Act, rather than under fair use is considered. The nature of the defendant and the reason for ripping would be relevant as to whether that covers him.

Re:Still not accurate (1)

dogrub1149 (1037312) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859078)

Here's even more 'fair use'. I can go to Wally World and buy a boom box that auto-rips to memory stick or included mp3 player. (I picked up a RCA toy that had the mp3 player, but there were Sony toys as well.)

It's going to burn them either way... (2, Interesting)

rdean400 (322321) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859000)

If the judge doesn't go along with their argument, they'll have to shut up about ripping being unauthorized.

If they get mp3's from ripping ruled to be unauthorized usage, that will just drive another nail in the coffin of CD sales. Consumers will turn to digital download services and completely eschew physical media. Artists will see the dwindling usefulness of the record companies and go independent.

Either way, the RIAA member companies will lose out. It would be far better for them to compete in the new arena than to use litigation to drive their way of thinking down everyone's throat. If they continue to ignore the cluebat beating them over the head, they'll wind up in the same boat with other organizations that have tried a similar approach (*cough*SCO*cough*).

Re:It's going to burn them either way... (3, Insightful)

slashdotard (835129) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859370)

This is a business that seems to regard it's customers as the enemy. The way it's going, they will eventually start suing anyone just for buying their product.

They're right. (5, Insightful)

gowen (141411) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859004)

They're not authorised by the copyright holder.
Fortunately, you don't need their authorisation, so that's OK.

They are plainly unauthorized copies, no trickery (4, Informative)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859006)

Did the person copying them have authorization? No.

Fortunately for most of us you don't need authorization for fair use purposes as you have the right to make such copies (depends on the law where you are of course).

However if you are using them for purposes that aren't covered by fair use then the fact they are unauthorized is very relevant as your copying was not permitted by right.

The RIAA aren't being tricky here, they are stating the plain truth.

Re:They are plainly unauthorized copies, no tricke (3, Interesting)

KB3LWJ (1210104) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859454)

Here's an interesting quote from one of the legal briefs in the case:

"Once Defendant converted Plaintiffs' recording into the compressed .mp3 format and they are in his shared folder, they are no longer the authorized copies distributed by Plaintiffs" [Supplemental Brief [ilrweb.com] , page 15, lines 16-18, emphasis added].

The phrasing that they used seems to indicate that the MP3 files were authorized until they were placed into the shared folder. Now, I'm not a lawyer, so it's possible that this means absolutely nothing, but it's still an interesting notion.

What it seems that they are saying is that the MP3's are authorized until used for an illegal purpose (i.e. file-sharing). Amazon's MP3 Music Service TOS [amazon.com] seems to support this interpretation. It encourages users to make backup copies of MP3's they purchase (which would be authorized); and, if you violate any of the terms (such as infringing upon the copyright of the MP3), your license to use the music terminates, making the MP3 unauthorized. While the music in this case wasn't purchased from Amazon, it seems like the same philosophy is involved.

Re:They are plainly unauthorized copies, no tricke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21860108)

However if you are using them for purposes that aren't covered by fair use then the fact they are unauthorized is very relevant as your copying was not permitted by right.
No, it's still irrelevant.

Even if the music label give you a written permission notarized by lawyers to rip CDs, you still can't distribute the rips aside from that covered by fair use unless you get a distribution right. Distributing unauthorized rips isn't any more illegal than distributing authorized rips. IOW, the key in this case is the license to distribute, not whether the rip was authorized or not.

Zombie News? (2, Informative)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859030)

Is this the same retread story that's been making the rounds for the last two weeks?

Short summary: Guy ripped CD and placed MP3 in P2P shared directory. RIAA sues him for "making available" an "unauthorized copy". Media ignores first part and reports that RIAA is suing the guy for simply ripping a CD (how would they know if that's all he did?). Frenzied and completely incorrect stories are reported and posted to slashdot, with hundreds of comments posted by people who can't (or choose not to) read and correctly comprehend the actual events.

Will somebody please put a bullet in this undead zombie beast of a story? It seems to be submitted every day and the summary is damn near always wrong.

Article still gets it wrong. (1)

shark72 (702619) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859044)

The rips in the brief are unauthorized because they have been placed in the share directory. Here's how it breaks down:

  • A CD ripped to your hard drive for personal use: OK.
  • A CD ripped to your hard drive and then copied into your Kazaa share directory: unauthorized.

Thus, the very same ripped MP3 file can go from "authorized" to "unauthorized" just through the act of making it available for sharing. "Personal use" is the big deal here, and I think everybody will still continue to argue over what "personal use" means. The RIAA thinks that making rips available in a share directory isn't personal use, but many Slashdotters obviously disagree.

The quote in the October article was printed out of context, too.

Re:Article still gets it wrong. (2, Insightful)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859202)

Nah. CD ripped to hd for personal use: unauthorized, legal under fair use doctrine. CD ripped and shared: unauthorize, illegaly redistributed.

Re:Article still gets it wrong. (1)

shark72 (702619) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859342)

I stand corrected. While from time to time various record label mouthpieces have acknowledged that ripping for personal use is okay, agreed that it'd be nearly impossible to get one of them to sit in the stand and state that it's officially "authorized."

The point I was trying to make is that the record label was not stating that the mere act of ripping is illegal. Some may draw that inference from the Engadget's use of "authorized" but as you correctly point out, they are different things.

Re:Article still gets it wrong. (2, Insightful)

fredklein (532096) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859270)

unauthorized because they have been placed in the share directory. Here's how it breaks down:

A CD ripped to your hard drive for personal use: OK.


What if (thru Windows File Sharing), my hard drive itself is shared?? What about Administrative (C$) shares than many are not aware of?

Re:Article still gets it wrong. (1)

shark72 (702619) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859308)

"What if (thru Windows File Sharing), my hard drive itself is shared?? What about Administrative (C$) shares than many are not aware of?"

I can't answer this one for you. It's one of those Schroedinger things: it all depends on what the court decides. But first, the record companies would have to catch you, and then opt to take you to court.

Practically speaking, I wouldn't worry. If you're sharing your music with your workmates (as many, many people do), I suppose your biggest risk would be a disgruntled ex-employee who'd try to tip off the record labels, but the labels have much more verdant fields to plow. They'll probably continue to leave workplace piracy to the BSA for the time being!

Re:Article still gets it wrong. (2, Interesting)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859828)

I'm normally not a paranoid cynic, but I'm actually quite bothered that the RIAA can try to dictate how I organize the files on my personal computer. What I suspect they are doing, by wording it they way they did, is to create as much of an accusatory tone as they can without having to actually prove any illegal activity. It would be one thing to say, "User X seeded Song B to a bittorrent client", but then they'd actually have to prove that, or face libel/slander charges.

Irony (1)

jesboat (64736) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859072)

Am I the only person who finds it bitterly ironic that, when a correction about a misleading summary is *finally* posted to Slashdot, the misleading summary was actually in some other news source?

Actually, what the RIAA lawyers... (1)

gillbates (106458) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859096)

are doing is seeing if the judge is going to call them on the carpet for calling personal copying infringement.

The idea is that they want to establish a few things:

  1. If the judge is favorable to their interpretation of copyright law, or:
  2. If the judge is neutral, perhaps that neutrality can be shifted by their suggestion that personal copies are illegal, and
  3. The implication that the copies are illegal presumes the defendant was engaged in illegal activity irrespective of the copyright claims. So, the case is less likely to be dismissed, and
  4. The implication that the copies are illegal will weigh upon the penalty phase of the trial, where the RIAA will attempt to convince the judge that the scope of the infringement was not merely the specific files shared, but all of the "illegal copies" on the defendant's hard drive. This will greatly multiply the possible damages.
  5. By including all of the copies as counts of infringement, they seek to nullify any defense mitigation of damages by claiming the infringement was not willful. If they can get the judge to establish that even copies of a CD - whether shared or not - are illegal, then they have a much better case that the infringement was willful, which carries much stronger penalties.
  6. And finally, they'd like to get the judge to establish - through precedent, by mentioning in his opinion - that even personal copies are infringing. If they suggest that personal copies are infringing in the complaint, the judge might quote the complaint in his opinion, hence opening the door to expanding the precedent for what constitutes copyright infringement.

This is not merely an innocuous mistake. The inclusion of this language in the complaint is meant for a very specific purpose: to progress toward a legal climate where everyone who hears a copy of a song or views a copy of a movie must pay the RIAA/MPAA or face liability for copyright infringement. The removal of fair use rights is only the beginning. The RIAA wants to return to the 18th century model where every performance is a paid performance; the fact that technology now makes it possible for the performance to proceed absent the performer is irrelevant to their business model.

They -are- unauthorized. (2, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859108)

This is a stupid article.

They ARE unauthorized copies. There really has NEVER been any debate about that. The label didn't specifically authorize them therefore they are unauthorized. ITS THAT SIMPLE.

That said, the ENTIRE POINT of fair use is to legalize 'unauthorized copies' in limited 'fair use' circumstances. Fair use, by definition, operates on unauthorized copies. You have to make an unauthorized copy in order for fair use to apply. If the copy was authorized you wouldn't need fair use -- because you've got explicit authorization directly from the rights holder.

The RIAA calling these cd rips unauthorized is about as salient as when they 'over' identify the defendant... if they mention that Jane Doe is a 35 year old woman who works as a bookkeeper, they are not suggesting that being 35 years old, a woman, or a bookkeeper are issues in the case, they are merely identifying the defendant.

Similiarly identifying the unauthorized songs ripped from CD by the defendant merely identifies the songs in question. The fact that they are 'unauthorized' vs 'authorized' is as irrelevant as the fact they were ripped from CD instead of Sirius/XM-Radio.

The judge certainly knows this. The lawyers certainly all know this. Maybe the defendant isn't aware, but that's why he should have a lawyer.

Knee-jerk reactions by bloggers who seize on irrelevant facts without knowing or understanding how copyright works is the real issue here. I propose we have another front page article... "prominent journalists and bloggers somehow don't know making a copy without explicit authorization results in an unauthorized copy, DUH!"

illegal Unauthorized Infringing (1)

Typoboy (61087) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860842)

thank you

If I draw a mustachio on my Britney CD that may also be unauthorized, but it doesn't mean it is illegal

Certainly it's unauthorized ... (4, Insightful)

Frater 219 (1455) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859124)

I am "unauthorized" to walk around town or drink my coffee. Nobody, certainly not the RIAA, has granted me any permission to do so. However, I also require no authorization. This is the important thing to learn here: when someone says you have no permission to do something, ask yourself whether any permission is needed. You need nobody's permission to exercise your rights. As soon as you accept the lie that you do, you're lost.

Indeed! Mod parent up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21859326)

"Unauthorized" is a highly misleading term, as the parent points out. It implies the notion that permission may be needed, when it may in fact be entirely superfluous.

Second time on /. and still not right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21859192)

Come on guys, it's not that difficult:

The defendant in this case was ripping music directly to his p2p shared folder. The RIAA calls this unauthorized, they aren't calling all rips unauthorized.

They're not lying (1)

teslatug (543527) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859238)

Of course ripping is not an authorized copy, but it's not illegal. It doesn't have to be authorized by the RIAA to be legal. It's legal because of fair use.

Users don't care if ripping is "unauthorized" (1)

Secrity (742221) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859258)

Users aren't going to give fuck whether they are "authorized" to rip CDs or not, or even if it is fair use -- they are simply going to do it. The only thing that will stop them would be DRM, and DRM on CDs is pretty much ineffective anyway.

RIAA changed their tune (3, Informative)

yeremein (678037) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859278)

The following has been removed from the RIAA's website, but the Internet Archive remembers [archive.org] :

If you choose to take your own CDs and make copies for yourself on your computer or portable music player, that's great. It's your music and we want you to enjoy it at home, at work, in the car and on the jogging trail.

put your money where your mouth is RIAA (1)

a_greer2005 (863926) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859288)

Sue someone...this is what we call a tipping poing, a well over due tipping point...push that envelope just a little further and see what happens...

Is this slander/libal? (1)

a_greer2005 (863926) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859334)

INAL, but from my understanding, If you repeatedly accuse someone (individual or group) of violating your rights and/or property and refuse to press legal action, that is, as far as I know, textbook libal/slander...we need to form a coalition of music fans who rip CDs to digital file formats and sue the RIAA for character assassination.

so, will the judge recuse himself? (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859372)

has any judge not made an unauthorised copy of a copyrighted work?

Paradox? (1)

ishmaelflood (643277) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859386)

Call that paradoxical? I bet it wouldn't make a humanoid robot's head explode.

Perhaps you meant "ironically". Or even, "counterproductively". But "paradoxically"? No.

Fair use does not exist (1)

theendlessnow (516149) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859420)

Fair use is often cited as a reason why people can supposedly do whatever they want with purchased media. However, fair use is NOT a law. In fact it is entirely subjective and CAN fluctuate (change) depending
on each case.

When you purchase the media containing content you did not purchased the ability to do whatever you want with the media. That includes viewing or playing of the media. That is a right granted to you by the copyright holder of the material on the media and IS revocable.

Question is, with the coming of digital media broadcasts, how much longer will we have any control (legal or otherwise) to do things like ripping content or using DVRs/PVRs?

Tell you the truth, I stand alone on this issue (really... I do). You see, while all of my media is purchased legally, surveys that I've participated in show that the vast majority of people obtain media content illegally and a significant portion of those distribute media illegally. Sigh.... folks, you are just giving ammunition to those who are restricting our "fair use" rights.

So... please reply IF you can honestly say that all of your rips and reencodings are of purchased media and are only used for your own viewing (yes, that means NOT shared among your family... that is, no multiple copies of rips on multiple devices for different people).

Welcome to the USA, the land of freedom.

Re:Fair use does not exist (1)

orangepeel (114557) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859780)

Sigh.... folks, you are just giving ammunition to those who are restricting our "fair use" rights. So... please reply IF you can honestly say that all of your rips and reencodings are of purchased media and are only used for your own viewing (yes, that means NOT shared among your family... that is, no multiple copies of rips on multiple devices for different people).

*waves to theendlessnow*

I suspect there are a surprising number of us amongst the Slashdot readership who fit that category. Years ago we got tired of, at best, being ignored and at worst being modded down for saying anything like what you just said. So now we just stay away from stories like this one. Personally I just learned that this wasn't a site to support anything other than the "music wants to be free" belief. And that's just fine. There are other topics that turn up here on Slashdot where I actually do feel like a welcome part of the discussion. This topic just isn't one of them.

Re:Fair use does not exist (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859794)

So... please reply IF you can honestly say that all of your rips and reencodings are of purchased media and are only used for your own viewing (yes, that means NOT shared among your family... that is, no multiple copies of rips on multiple devices for different people).
As I understand, the iTunes songs I have purchased are authorized to be played on up to FIVE computers (and no technical limit on the number of iPods). I don't think that it matters if one computer belongs to my son, another to my wife, and yet another to my dog. Most of my wife's songs are in my iTunes playlist, as are mine on hers. To further muddy the issue, all our computers on the network (five) share their iTunes libraries.

Then again, you are asking about rips from CD, so I'm a little less confident in stating my family sharing actions are legal, but frankly, I don't care, because the gestapo isn't kicking doors in (yet).

Fair use is often cited as a reason why people can supposedly do whatever they want with purchased media.
While I'm not a lawyer, I am in the field of Education, and Fair Use is indeed real, and enjoys legal protection. This doesn't mean we can do whatever we want with purchased media, but it does mean we have the ability to reuse media for education purposes, within the guidelines of Fair Use policy. To say it isn't real is quite silly, given there are specific details for how many copies you can distribute, what kind of media can be reproduced, etc. etc.

Re:Fair use does not exist (2, Informative)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860034)

Fair use is often cited as a reason why people can supposedly do whatever they want with purchased media.

No, fair use is cited as the reason that people can do what they want with purchased media for their own use (the law actually has many other applications, but that's what is most relevant here.) Not too many people I know, and not many on Slashdot, believe that fair use implies a license to commit copyright infringement on a massive scale, because it doesn't. Whether or not you believe that Fair Use doctrine applies to ripping music for personal use (and that is open to interpretation, I agree), the Audio Home Recording Act explicitly does, so far as I can tell. The RIAA agreed to that in exchange for fees levied upon blank media sales. Now they want to renege on that agreement: the bastards want it both ways. Screw them, and their horses too, and I hope their building falls down on them.

However, fair use is NOT a law.

The United States Federal Government would disagree [copyright.gov] with you on that point.

For your edification, here's the relevant portion:

Copyright Law of the United States of America and Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code

107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use40

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include --

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.


So Fair Use is very much the law. Whether it can be construed to mean what we all want it to mean is something entirely different. I'm not a lawyer, but perhaps some actual attorneys could enlighten us as to the the application of Fair Use to personal copies of musical tracks.

So, are they gonna sue Fisher-Price? (1)

quattr0 (1210192) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859770)

Fisher-Price has a video clip advertising its FP3 player. In this clip, they said "You could copy the songs to the player from the CDs you already own". http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=4966369 [walmart.com] Click on Watch a clip LoL

Re:So, are they gonna sue Fisher-Price? (1)

UnxMully (805504) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859948)

Aren't Apple, Sony, Microsoft, Sandisk and anyone else that sells a device and software to transfer music from CDs to the device doing just the same? If what they're doing is illegal, why are the RIAA not hitting them as well?

No, the cat doesn't "got my tongue". (2, Funny)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859844)

> As it actually stands the defendant isn't being sued over CD ripping, but for placing
> files in a shared directory. Engadget notes that the difference here is that the RIAA
> is deliberately describing ripped MP3 backups as 'unauthorized copies'

Apparently Engadget is confused as to what a "backup" is for and what a "shared directory" is for.

May I quote from a Speedy Gonzolez cartoon, where the fat oaf cat is looking for something to put out his friend, on fire. He grabs a bucket:

"P - E - T - R - O - L. Huh. That's a funny way to spell 'water'."

"S - H - A - R - E - D. Huh. That's a funny way to spell 'backup'."

I now humbly await my downmod. Please read my .sig before you do. (someone puts a blindfold on me) "Freedom and logic" (bang!)

A bit of common sense here (1)

L. J. Beauregard (111334) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859866)

If you rip your CDs to an MP3 player, and don't share the files, the RIAA will never know. Even if it's illegal as hell, you won't be sued if the would-be plaintiff doesn't know it has a case.

Re:A bit of common sense here (1)

UnxMully (805504) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860016)

I believe the UK agency formerly known as Customs and Excise didn't need a warrant to search your house. In that respect they had more powers of search and seizure than the Police.

Imagine if the RIAA ever had those powers...

Re:A bit of common sense here (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860182)

I believe you have touched on the precise reason why such personal use copying is typically considered exempt from copyright infringement in the first place.

Re:A bit of common sense here (1)

Dontgimmiethatlook (1099559) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860894)

If you rip your CDs to an MP3 player, and don't share the files, the RIAA will never know.
Thats what they want you to think!

Remember: Unauthorized Copies Make Baby Jesus Cry (1)

mkcmkc (197982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21859954)

(I'm just saying.)

"Unauthorized" != "Illegal" (2, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860026)

> Engadget notes that the difference here is that the RIAA is deliberately describing
> ripped MP3 backups as 'unauthorized copies' ...

They are 'unauthorized copies'. So are copies made under fair use. Unauthorized is not a synonym for illegal. It just means that you don't have the copyright owner's permission. However, there are many things you can legally do with a copy without the copyright owner's permission.

> While there's a pretty good argument for the legality of ripping under the market
> factor of fair use,...

You mean under the Audio Home Recording Act exception. "Fair use" is something else entirely (it is, though, an example of something you can legally do without the copyright owner's permission).

Simple Fix (1)

Doc Austin (1168543) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860098)

Simple fix - stop making CD purchases. Let's watch the heads spin when artists earn gold and platinum based on downloads, not CD sales, and artist revenue is derived solely from royalties and concert receipts. Future article: "How the RIAA ended CD purchases and killed the major record labels." And seriously, to hell with the artists who have "sold out" and care more about short term revenue than their fan base. Unsustainable business model.

Re:Simple Fix (1)

Rodolpho Zatanas (986694) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860628)

Simple fix - stop making CD purchases. Let's watch the heads spin [...]
I would like to see that. Usually heads only roll in circumstances like these.

Just buy them used... (1)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860672)

The Doctrine of First Sale covers sale and lending of ones own property. Therefore, used CDs (and DVDs) are perfectly legal. (And so are libraries...before the Doctrine of First Sale libraries were technically illegal!) It is only the sale of NEW CDs/DVDs that earns the MAFIAA their cut. So if you don't want to take the radical step of not purchasing music or movies, ever, this is the perfect solution.

Buy it used. Then rip, mix, burn...for your own personal consumption, of course...

RIAA doesn't intimidate anyone... (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860124)

Really, RIAA is a country whose left wingers are used to getting firehosed and dragged away by police, and whose right wingers are used to getting firehosed and dragged away by police. Everyone in America has a ton of guns, dodges or cheats on their taxes, breaks every traffic law their is, probably has been drunk and driven at least once, and the only thing that unites the polical culture is that everyone on both sides of the aisle seems to worship lawbreakers.

So what does RIAA have? A couple of lawyers chasing after people? No matter how many times they say copying digital works is stealing, everyone knows they only think that because they are paid to think that.

Would RIAA represent my copyrighted work if I made a game where you shot a bunch of RIAA lawyers?

Re:RIAA doesn't intimidate anyone... (1)

MulluskO (305219) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860486)

Would RIAA represent my copyrighted work if I made a game where you shot a bunch of RIAA lawyers?
Maybe if you wrote a song about it.

Hey, RIAA! (1)

sloveless (518479) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860728)

Fuck you and Frank Luntz, too! (Not that Frankie has a damn thing to do with this, but how could I pass up the opportunity?)

Screw them (1)

Amazetbm (1087099) | more than 6 years ago | (#21860824)

They can kiss my ass. Ripping my legally purchased copy of a CD, in order to get the music into my MP3 player, falls under Fair Use. I'm not gonna buy a CD then turn around and buy the download too.
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