The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), rated as the #1 hated organization in the land has come up with yet another anti piracy scheme. Not content with just suing College students for downloading music from P2P (Peer To Peer) services, they now have everyone in their sights.

When I first read the story I assumed that I had been in a coma for three months, and rather than it being January the first, it was April Fools Day. My wife assured me that I was wrong.

The latest move from this wonderful organization is to declare war on people that buy CD’s and then ‘rip’ them so that they can listen to the music on their own MP3 players.

Copying a song you’ve paid for in CD form is “a nice way of saying ‘steals just one copy,'” Sony (root kit) BMG top lawyer Jennifer Pariser testified during cross-examination in the Jammie Thomas case in early October.

It has gone downhill from there! Effectively the RIAA are saying that when you purchase a CD you are limited in what you can do with it, you own the disc, but not the content. That is like buying a computer and being threatened with a law suit if you open the box up and add more Ram, or change the Video card. What I buy, I should be able to ‘tinker with’. It may void the warranty, but if I choose to do it, thats my right!

It is estimated that since the RIAA went on the offensive they have sued approximately 20,000 people for copyright infringement, the perpetrators of this heinous crime have ranged from children, through retirees that don’t know limewire from Depends, even the occasional dead person has been served.

This latest salvo no doubt means that the RIAA police will be accosting people on the bus or train listening to MP3 players, and demanding to know where the music came from. Don McLean in his song American Pie summed it all up in the line “the day the music died”.

CD sales are flagging, and the answer in the RIAA’s mind is to sue people. Maybe if they took a leaf out of film maker Richard Schenkman’s book, they may get further along. Ray Beckerman an attorney representing several defendants in RIAA versus the whole world had this to say:

“The basic principle in the law is that you have to distribute actual physical copies to be guilty of violating copyright. But recently, the industry has been going around saying that even a personal copy on your computer is a violation.”

The whole campaign that RIAA has staged to date has done little to endear the music industry with the people that buy their product. No doubt if I choose to use the CD as a frisbee or put it in the microwave (don’t do this at home!) I run the danger of being sued by the RIAA for ‘unauthorized use’.

Get a life!

Simon Barrett

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