The RIAA grasps at the last straw.

This isn’t new, but the RIAA has now decided to argue that it is illegal for you to rip a song from a CD that you have legally purchased:

Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: 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.

As I’ve mentioned before, that’s exactly the opposite of what was argued in MGM vs. Grokster:

…And let me clarify something I think is unclear from the amicus briefs. The record companies, my clients, have said, for some time now, and it’s been on their Website for some time now, that it’s perfectly lawful to take a CD that you’ve purchased, upload it onto your computer, put it onto your iPod.

So let’s assume for a second that even though they are lying scum, that they are correct. Just because you bought that physical CD, you aren’t allowed to rip a song from it. So pretty much every one of their customers is a criminal, and they’ll sue every last one of you if you don’t buy that music over again.

Of course many of you have paid for that music several times already. On records, eight-tracks, cassettes, and eventually CDs. The artists, and of course the record companies, have been compensated several times for that music that only you have listened to. But they want those artists (and themselves of course) to be compensated one more time.

So they want you to buy the digital track. And they’ll be rolling in the money once again.

But wait. You were once forced to buy a CD with two good songs and a bunch of other dreck for $10-$20. Now you can buy those two good tracks for only a couple of bucks – a huge drop in revenue for the record companies. They’re probably counting on you buying every track by all of those bands.

That’s ok, because it all about the artists getting compensated, right? Though as I’ve also noted before, that isn’t quite true:

If your deal with your record company is like The Alman Brothers, then you’re getting something like $315.50 for those same 1,000 songs (83.3 CDs worth). That works out to $0.31 cents per song, instead of the $0.045 on a digital download.

So artists only make about 15% of their regular royalty on digital downloads even though the prices haven’t decreased and there are absolutely no overhead costs, but I guess record company executives have to eat too.

So once everyone has purchased the digital version of their music, is that it? After you have the MP3, what next argument can the RIAA possibly make? Once you have a digital copy of the bits with a header, what else do you need?

Of course, once you get your bits digitally – with no physical media or component of any kind – what do you need a "record" company for? Bands like Radiohead have already figured this out.

To quote Geek News Central:

Here is a message to all of the recording companies that support the RIAA “I will never ever buy an Album, Single, go to a concert or purchase anything from any of your signed artists so long as you continue to support the RIAA”.

Though I don’t think they’ll carebecause they seem to have lost the meaning of "customer" long ago.


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