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RIAA suing UW students for music downloads

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RIAA suing UW students for music downloads

Postby Shorty » Mon Feb 16, 2009 4:46 pm

The RIAA is still suing UW students for illegal music downloads: http://www.madison.com/wsj/topstories/435981

Here is what I don't understand. I have MP3 players that have an FM radio with FM recording and line-in recording. With these I know of four ways for me to get free music:

(1) use the player to record from the FM broadcast.

(2) use the player to record using the line-in cable connected to my PC, stereo or TV. I get digital cable with 30 music channels and music on demand, so there is a lot of music to choose from.

(3) borrow CD's from friends and relatives and rip them to MP3's.

(4) download free MP's from P2P networks.

Options 1 and 2 are legal, but 3 and 4 are illegal so I won't do them. But I don't understand the double standard. Why are 1 and 2 legal when 3 and 4 aren't? It seems like in all these cases the person is obtaining MP3's for free so they should be treated the same.
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Re: RIAA suing UW students for music downloads

Postby Beer Moon » Tue Feb 17, 2009 6:55 pm

First - I am not a lawyer - only a spectator so I may get some of this wrong.

1 isn't allowed or legal afaik. The FCC should be catching those. I know there are some meant for foreign markets (like the Archos) that might allow it - but usually FM recording is disabled in US versions. Maybe that policy has changed. I don't know why the RIAA wouldn't enforce it. Maybe it's because the quality isn't there - the songs are often talked over, FM broadcasts are certainly not CD-quality, and most radio stations mess up the EQ even if you could put up with the hiss.

2 isn't legal or allowed, and I most STBs have their line-outs disabled for this very reason.

Anyway, don't look for any logic as to what the RIAA or MPAA is doing. Logically, they would have got together and spent their lawyer money on building better distribution models - like Netflix, Hulu, Joost and internet radio start-ups did. Then they could reap the rewards of monthly subscription pricing models that people would be happy to pay for in order to have access to their media collection on-demand from anywhere - computers away from home, cell phones, car stereos, you-name-it. People are happy to pay for a good quality service.

They build their lawsuits mostly based on someone "making available" copyrighted material that the person does not have the right to distribute. This puts them in the unenviable position of sueing their customers (see RAMBUS for other examples of how successful this approach has been). However, so far, they have not had to prove that anyone ACTUALLY distributed it.

I thought they sued Harvard or MIT or something - and the law school students volunteered to take it to court for real (NO ONE HAS DONE THIS).

I thought it had something to do with asking the RIAA to actually PROVE the distribution - which I doubt they are capable of doing. I believe this prompted them to drop all suits. If someone is able to set a precedent that they must PROVE distribution actually occurred - they would probably be fucked 3 ways from Sunday. The fewer challenges they get the better off they are. The more suits they file - the more likely they will be to actually have to go to court and be challenged.
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Re: RIAA suing UW students for music downloads

Postby aaronetc » Tue Feb 17, 2009 11:29 pm

Are you saying it's illegal to record things off the radio, and that the FCC disallows the technology to do it in the US? 'Cause I have a boombox that would beg to differ (well, "have" in the sense of having had in the past). Also, it seems like the Betamax case would have some relevance here -- if you can time-shift TV broadcasts, you can time-shift radio broadcasts.
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Re: RIAA suing UW students for music downloads

Postby Shorty » Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:39 pm

Beer Moon wrote:First - I am not a lawyer - only a spectator so I may get some of this wrong.

1 isn't allowed or legal afaik. The FCC should be catching those. I know there are some meant for foreign markets (like the Archos) that might allow it - but usually FM recording is disabled in US versions. Maybe that policy has changed. I don't know why the RIAA wouldn't enforce it. Maybe it's because the quality isn't there - the songs are often talked over, FM broadcasts are certainly not CD-quality, and most radio stations mess up the EQ even if you could put up with the hiss.

2 isn't legal or allowed, and I most STBs have their line-outs disabled for this very reason.

Thanks but I didn't know 1 and 2 were illegal. Can you give a URL source for that? What is the intended purpose of FM and line-in recorders on MP3 players if not to record music? And I don't think these features are disabled on MP3 players sold in the US, or hard to come by. For example, the iRiver E100, Insignia Pilot, Meizu M6, and Sansa Fuze all have FM and/or line-in recording and are sold at stores like Best Buy, Radio Shack, and Walgreens. I own some of them and the recording features aren't disabled.

What about casette recorders? Since 1980 I have had stereos and boomboxes with built-in cassette recorders. Is it illegal to use them to record FM music to cassette?

My TV has a VCR/DVD recorder connected to it. With it I can record any tv show including concerts or music channels. Is that illegal? What about using TIVO to record music on TV?

As arronetc said, there is the Betamax case of 1984 which I thought said it was legal to make home recordings of tv shows and music. I didn't think it mattered whether the recording was on tape, dvd, Tivo, or an MP3 player. I thought these recordings were considered "fair use" and not copyright violations.
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Re: RIAA suing UW students for music downloads

Postby Kenneth Burns » Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:57 pm

I seem to recall that the RIAA isn't suing people who download music. It's suing people who make music available for downloading. Or did something change?
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Re: RIAA suing UW students for music downloads

Postby Shorty » Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:07 am

In January the RIAA said they would stop suing individual downloaders and instead sue the illegal music providers (P2P networks). But they are still pursuing existing lawsuits against individuals like the UW students mentioned in the article:

http://www.madison.com/wsj/topstories/435981

I'm glad there are lawyers like Ray Beckerman helping people sued by the RIAA. The wealthy RIAA suing poor students on shaky legal grounds has always seemed wrong to me. They should have gone after the P2P networks from the start:

http://recordingindustryvspeople.blogsp ... #beckerman
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Re: RIAA suing UW students for music downloads

Postby Kenneth Burns » Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:48 am

Shorty wrote:In January the RIAA said they would stop suing individual downloaders and instead sue the illegal music providers (P2P networks). But they are still pursuing existing lawsuits against individuals like the UW students mentioned in the article:

http://www.madison.com/wsj/topstories/435981


But I don't think the RIAA ever sued individual downloaders. It sued individual sharers, which is presumably why that article notes:

the Recording Industry Association of America, in the midst of a six-year, nationwide lawsuit campaign to protect copyrights, had spotted her computer sharing files through her UW-Madison Internet connection.
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Re: RIAA suing UW students for music downloads

Postby Shipley » Thu Feb 26, 2009 11:11 am

Its difference between going after the guy who buys drugs vs the guy who sells drugs: cut off the source.

the RIAA can't really make a case that I do or don't own any of the music on my computer. I bought EL OSO by Soul Coughing 10 years ago. I backed it up on my computer and the cd was stolen a few years ago. Now I don't have the cd any more, so are my MP3s on my hard drive any less legal? I spent months on oink re-downloading CDs I'd lost in that same theft

The burden of proof is on them to prove I'd stolen the music and its nearly impossible.

But its pretty easy to track down a guy who posts a CD before its release and finger him as impacting sales. So thats what they're after; distribution not downloading. Make it harder for the pirates to post stuff and suddenly it becomes easier to just pay the damn 89 cents to amazon to buy the song.
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Re: RIAA suing UW students for music downloads

Postby Shorty » Thu Feb 26, 2009 11:19 am

I think ripping one copy of a CD you bought and using the MP3's for your own use is legal so your El Oso files on your PC are legal. Your drug dealer/buyer analogy is a good one, but the police will go after both the drug dealer and buyer won't they? So it was the same with the RIAA until January.

"the RIAA can't really make a case that I do or don't own any of the music on my computer."

If you downloaded I think they can determine where you got it and how. That is the basis of their lawsuits against individual downloaders/sharers.

Kenneth Burns wrote:But I don't think the RIAA ever sued individual downloaders. It sued individual sharers, which is presumably why that article notes:

My understanding is that with a P2P network connection, when you download files your PC also becomes a host for sharing them. So they were both downloaders and sharers.
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Re: RIAA suing UW students for music downloads

Postby Kenneth Burns » Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:35 pm

Shorty wrote:My understanding is that with a P2P network connection, when you download files your PC also becomes a host for sharing them. So they were both downloaders and sharers.

Right, but they were sued for sharing, not downloading.
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Re: RIAA suing UW students for music downloads

Postby TAsunder » Thu Feb 26, 2009 1:10 pm

Shorty wrote:If you downloaded I think they can determine where you got it and how. That is the basis of their lawsuits against individual downloaders/sharers.


Not really. The basis is that you were sharing those files. There's no secret digital fingerprint on most MP3 files. There seem to be on some of the "DRM-free" files on iTunes and amazon, but not on ones you create yourself.

My understanding is that with a P2P network connection, when you download files your PC also becomes a host for sharing them. So they were both downloaders and sharers.


You can disable this.
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