I believe that lawyer Ray Beckerman has done some wonderful things in defending people being bullied by the RIAA and accused of infringing on copyrights with very little evidence. He also does a fantastic job keeping people informed on the issues with his Recording Industry vs. The People
blog. However, his latest post about the RIAA changing their argument to say that making personal copies to one's own computer is infringement
is misleading at best. And, worse, many big sites
are repeating the claim
. Unfortunately, it's not quite true and it seriously hurts the arguments of those who think the RIAA is going too far to mislead in this way. What the RIAA's lawyers clearly seem to be saying is that putting mp3 files that you legally ripped into a shared Kazaa folder
makes them no longer authorized. In other words, this is simply an extension of their old standby, the argument that "making available" is infringement. The RIAA's argument here seems to be that putting content in a shared Kazaa folder is "making available," and if making available is infringement, then clearly these files infringe.
Now, it's quite fair to argue that point (and argue it we should, because there are troublesome implications if a shared folder is all you need to create infringing content). However, that is not, in any way, saying that simply ripping your CDs is infringement, and it weakens the arguments of Beckerman and other supporters to take the RIAA's argument out of context and present it as something it is not. The RIAA certainly takes others' arguments out of context and exaggerates statements to suggest that anyone questioning their strategy is just a "pirate." However, that's no reason to sink to the RIAA's level. Instead, why can't we be intellectually honest and focus on what the RIAA is actually saying and why that
is problematic? There's no reason to exaggerate the RIAA's stance or take it out of context. It's troublesome enough in real life without having to twist it further.