(updated 10:17 pm- slashdot says that the WaPo story I quote below is, um, misleading. Or maybe it’s just wrong. Hooray for traditional journalism.)
The RIAA is breaking out a new legal tactic:
In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.
The industry’s lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are “unauthorized copies” of copyrighted recordings.
This particular claim is a perfect illustration of the evils inherent in government-granted monopolies. People in general have settled expectations about personal property that are inconsistent with the desired economic scenario for the copyright cartels. When you buy a CD or a book, you don’t sign a contract. You don’t need to get a license from the author to read the book. The purchase transaction is exactly like any other purchase of physical goods. From a customer’s perspective, buying a CD is exactly like buying a donut or a chainsaw. Customers expect that all the rights of ownerhship which attach to other tangible personal property also attach to items like CDs.
The copyright monopoly has metastasized so far that music companies are, in effect, arguing that even though you bought the CD, you can only listen to the music on it on devices they have approved. At the exact same time that companies all over the world are designing and producing technology to allow people to more easily create and share music, movices, and the written word, the companies that stand to benefit the most from emergence of new talent are doing everything they can to poison the well.
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