I _Really_ Don't Know

A low-frequency blog by Rob Styles

File & Music Swapping, Copyright theft?

As news comes in, unsurprisingly, that Washington is considering technological solutions to copyright infringement on file swapping networks I finally find myself galvanised to write about the subject.

All in all, I think the DMCA (UCLA Summary) and the EUCD (Stand Summary) are based on falsehoods of a massive scale.

The RIAA describes copyright infringement of music in these terms:

_ "Piracy" generally refers to the illegal duplication and distribution of sound recordings. There are four specific categories of music piracy:


These definitions are fairly sound and I'll use them in my arguments against.

So, my concern is this: The measures being discussed and implemented to protect copyright material both technologically and legally, things such as Cactus Data Shield, the DMCA and EUCD are not here to stop piracy. The only real pirates are the counterfeiters and they won't be stopped by Cactus or by new laws.

The measures being taken are being taken to increase profits for the record industry, not by reducing piracy, but by increasing levies on their customers. What will happen if copy protection succeeds in preventing you from ripping it to MP3? Will it stop commercial pirates? No. Will it stop you from listening to music you own on CD on your iPod? Yes. Then you'll have to buy it again as MP3 from an online store. That's what it's all about; charging consumers more because the RIAA knows full-well it's easier to do that than to stop the real pirates.

Once you realise that three out of the foure types of piracy that the RIAA talk about, while wrong, illegal and not to be condoned, cost the record industry little it is clear they're aiming the wrong weapons at the wrong targets.

And, at the risk of being jailed under the EUCD, if you own a copy-protected CD from BMG you can rip it quite easily by first copying it onto a cd-rw using your CD recording software - copying only the audio tracks, not the data track, and then ripping the cd-rw. I'm guessing a good many people have done this already as when you do this the cd-rw gets recognised and automatically labelled by any software using an online music catalog. We're all criminals now.