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RIAA to give the boot to “Fair use”

Being "fair" is inextricably linked to human nature, which is why I was fuming last Friday when news sources reported that ripping music from CDs and transferring it to an iPod - or any other digital devices - does not constitute fair use and is therefore an offence – at least according to a document published by the major record companies, represented by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

This is a complete u-turn with regards to the stance the RIAA was holding as little as a couple of months ago. As Fred Von Lohmann, a member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says: "perfectly lawful" according to RIAA is only up until they decide to change the rules of the game.

Greed is one of the seven deadly sins (opens in new tab) and this is exactly what the RIAA is guilty of. After all, why should I be prevented from copying the tracks from the CD that I have purchased onto my MP3 player and listen to it on the road?

Where's the logic underlying this change in mind, apart from financial gain? The RIAA also said that it is "outside the realms" of fair use to make backups, which, until now, was considered to be so.

With the gradual shifting from physical media (CD, DVDs, tape) to a digital format, it wouldn't surprise me if a music tax (pay per use or subscription) was enforced in the medium term with CD production being axed and DRM (Digital Rights Management) scheme mass-implemented for the better and the worse.

Don't forget, you do NOT own the music you bought. Sound tracks are only licensed to you with a whole array of strings attached.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.