Mad, Beautiful Ideas
RIAA Attacks Personal Use

Ira M. Schwartz of the RIAA, who I’ve written about before, has stepped up her attacks on the Howell’s of Scottsdale, AZ, to include not only the placement of ripped songs into the Howell’s KaZaA share directory as a violation of fair use, but even simply the act of ripping the CDs to his computer violated the tenets of fair use.

I can’t believe I defended that woman.

It’s not a new idea, by any means. Sony BMGs chief of litigation has gone on record saying that copying the song is the same as stealing it. Back in the day of cassette tapes, the record industry prematurely lamented their death. VHS was going to destroy the movie industry. DVD had to have CSS copy protection to prevent people from stealing movies. As the Washington Post said today, this is just an example of an old guard business trying their hardest not to adapt.

Some people do steal media. Some people will steal anything that they can manage. Most people don’t. Most people don’t have an interest in stealing, and simply want to be able to use their media where they want. I buy CDs because I like CDs. I like to have control over the format I rip them into. I don’t buy MP3s, because I dislike the patents surrounding MP3. I think that Ogg Vorbis is a superior format. And importantly it’s a Free format. I’m free to use it without having to worry about my data being covered under software patents.

I’m immensely pleased to see Amazon selling DRM-Free MP3s and having the RIAA-backed record studio’s signing on. I’m pleased that Apple has dropped the price of the DRM-free music to be the same as the DRM-music on iTunes. I think they should stop offering the DRM options, but at least it doesn’t cost more any longer.

When I make Ogg Vorbis versions of the songs that I have purchased, I do so, that I am able to listen to them more conveniently. Either on the go using my Neuros Audio Computer, or so that I can have all my music at my fingertips via Rhythmbox. I don’t rip my CDs and resell them. I don’t share my files with people outside my household.

I am not a criminal. I am a consumer interested in choice, and disgusted with the old guard. The record companies seem to have come-around on this issue. The RIAA has not, and the record industry needs to cut ties, and put an end to the litigation of the consumers.

Go after the Howell’s for sharing their music over KaZaA. I agree with that not being fair use. But them ripping them for personal use? I hope a Judge rips you apart, Ms. Schwartz.