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Comment: Re:I think that this is actually illegal (Score 1) 317

It's not the ripping software, it's the digital recording function, i.e. the ability to write to disk.

Here's what the court said in the RIAA v Diamond Multimedia case: (internal citations removed)

Unlike digital audio tape machines, for example, whose primary purpose is to make digital audio copied recordings, the primary purpose of a computer is to run various programs and to record the data necessary to run those programs and perform various tasks. The legislative history is consistent with this interpretation of the Act's provisions, stating that "the typical personal computer would not fall within the definition of 'digital audio recording device,'" because a personal computer's "recording function is designed and marketed primarily for the recording of data and computer programs." Another portion of the Senate Report states that "[i]f the 'primary purpose' of the recording function is to make objects other than digital audio copied recordings, then the machine or device is not a 'digital audio recording device,' even if the machine or device is technically capable of making such recordings."

So it really depends on what else the car's ability to write to disk is both primarily used for, and what it is primarily marketed for. The latter is probably worse for them; even if the car happens to be writing map or diagnostic information to disk, probably ripping CDs is what is mainly being advertised.

Comment: Re:Time Shifting? (Score 1) 317

No. Here's the relevant part of the ruling, quoting the Senate report on the bill:

"[i]f the `primary purpose' of the recording function is to make objects other than digital audio copied recordings, then the machine or device is not a `digital audio recording device,' even if the machine or device is technically capable of making such recordings."

What information does the car's system digitally record other than music? That it might display digital information, or play digital information isn't relevant, since those don't involve the recording function.

Computers record lots of stuff to their hard drives. Some of it is music, but the ability to write to disk isn't primarily designed for digital music, nor primarily marketed for that.

Comment: Re:Time Shifting? (Score 1) 317

No, the car doesn't count.

Let's look at a bit more of the relevant language in the statute:

A âoedigital audio recording deviceâ is any machine or device of a type commonly distributed to individuals for use by individuals, whether or not included with or as part of some other machine or device, the digital recording function of which is designed or marketed for the primary purpose of, and that is capable of, making a digital audio copied recording for private use

It's what the primary purpose of the digital recording function is (or is marketed as) that matters. We disregard the car and the rest of the machine altogether.

Comment: Re:The Alliance of Artists should lose this suit (Score 1) 317

I think you really need to go back and read up on Copyright Law (17 USC). The license is implied in Copyright Law.

No, there's no license, particularly no license 'implied in the law,' whatever that means.

You have an inherent free speech right to do anything with a work that you like, except for things that copyright gives an exclusive right to the copyright holder about. A copyright holder can only possibly grant a license for something that he holds a right to; he cannot give you permission to do something you don't need his permission for. And once the copyright on the work expires (no, seriously), you're no longer limited as to the exclusive rights either.

So for example, there is an exclusive right to publicly perform music, but not an exclusive right to privately perform music. Even if you have a stolen CD that was itself made illegally, you can lawfully privately perform it without infringing on copyright. No license or anything.

All this licensing bullshit basically is a side effect of stupid (and largely unnecessary) practices in the software industry. It's mostly folk myths. If there's a license, you'll usually know it: it will almost certainly be pages and pages long, written, and you'll have to expressly agree in some way. Record companies would not sell CDs with some sort of implied license.

No, the CD is the work, it is not the derivative.

Depends. Assuming you just mean an album, and not the piece of plastic, it'll either be a work or a compilation.

You do have a right to transform it.

No, that's preparation of a derivative work, probably; an exclusive right at 17 USC 106(2), and doing it is infringing at 17 USC 501(a). You'll need an exception to copyright, or for the work not to be copyrighted, or a license, in order to just make the derivative, never mind distributing it. And if it's not a derivative work after all (see the definition at 17 USC 101), it's likely an infringement of the reproduction right at 17 USC 106(1).

By definition, Fair Use is not an infringement.

Correct. Though as a practical matter, it's treated like an affirmative defense... it just makes more sense to do it that way, even though it is indeed an exception to copyright.

Comment: Re:The Alliance of Artists should lose this suit (Score 1) 317

As long as you don't distribute it, its totally legal. No doubt about it.

No, it's only legal under the right circumstances. Fair use is entirely a case-by-case thing. Just because it could be a fair use sometimes doesn't mean that it will be every time. And vice versa, under the right circumstances, any sort of infringement might be a fair use.

Anyway, I wouldn't recommend relying entirely on it if a better option were available.

Comment: Re:I had to look up the AARC (Score 1) 317

The AHRA means it is _legal_ to buy a blank audio CDR, copy a CD onto it (or make a mix CD), and give it to your friend.

No.

First, it doesn't make it legal, it makes it non-actionable; there's a difference. (I am reliably told that it was supposed to be legal, but it got changed at the last minute in a suspicious manner)

Second, it doesn't say you can give the AHRA-compliant copies away. Just that they can be noncommercially 'used.'

Comment: Re:Unbelievable (Score 1) 317

Even before CDs were invented it was legal to make your own copy for your own use of copyrighted material you owned

Actually, it was never quite clear. It's since been expressly made non-infringing (not technically the same thing as legal; they're very sneaky) in some situations, but not any that are relevant to most people. There's also a fair use argument, but that's not the best thing in the world to rely on; fair use depends on the specific circumstances at hand, and doesn't always produce consistent results.

Comment: Re:Unbelievable (Score 1) 317

This seems to be clearly format shifting for personal use which should be entirely legal.

Should be, but that's not actually what the case is about. This is about making & selling a limited purpose device with a digital music ripping function. Such devices are required to have certain limits, and the people who make, import, or distribute them, have to pay certain royalties. And it looks as though neither requirement has been complied with here.

People don't ordinarily run into this, since computers are general purpose devices which also happen to be able to rip, and are therefore exempt.

Comment: I think that this is actually illegal (Score 1) 317

I don't think that it should be, but let's take a look at the actual law, since 'should be' doesn't provide much practical help.

What we're looking at is the Audio Home Recording Act, or AHRA, which is Chapter 10 of the Copyright Act, and can be found at 17 USC 1001 et seq.

17 USC 1002:

No person shall import, manufacture, or distribute any digital audio recording device or digital audio interface device that does not conform to-- (1) the Serial Copy Management System; (2) a system that has the same functional characteristics as the Serial Copy Management System and requires that copyright and generation status information be accurately sent, received, and acted upon between devices using the system's method of serial copying regulation and devices using the Serial Copy Management System; or (3) any other system certified by the Secretary of Commerce as prohibiting unauthorized serial copying.

17 USC 1004:

(a) Prohibition on Importation and Manufacture.-- No person shall import into and distribute, or manufacture and distribute, any digital audio recording device or digital audio recording medium unless such person records the notice specified by this section and subsequently deposits the statements of account and applicable royalty payments for such device or medium specified in section 1004.

So the question is, is this feature in the car a "digital audio recording device," "digital audio interface device," or "digital audio recording medium"? As always, if a term is specially defined in the statute, that meaning controls, as opposed to the ordinary meaning. Definitions are provided at section 1001. They're a bit complicated, and we'll have to work through several layers here.

Let's start with a digital audio recording device.

Per 17 USC 1001, a "digital audio recording device" is:

A "digital audio recording device" is any machine or device of a type commonly distributed to individuals for use by individuals, whether or not included with or as part of some other machine or device, the digital recording function of which is designed or marketed for the primary purpose of, and that is capable of, making a digital audio copied recording for private use, except for-- (A) professional model products, and (B) dictation machines, answering machines, and other audio recording equipment that is designed and marketed primarily for the creation of sound recordings resulting from the fixation of nonmusical sounds.

This refers to another definition:

A "digital audio copied recording" is a reproduction in a digital recording format of a digital musical recording, whether that reproduction is made directly from another digital musical recording or indirectly from a transmission.

And that refers to yet another definition:

(A) A "digital musical recording" is a material object-- (i) in which are fixed, in a digital recording format, only sounds, and material, statements, or instructions incidental to those fixed sounds, if any, and
(ii) from which the sounds and material can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

(B) A "digital musical recording" does not include a material object-- (i) in which the fixed sounds consist entirely of spoken word recordings, or (ii) in which one or more computer programs are fixed, except that a digital musical recording may contain statements or instructions constituting the fixed sounds and incidental material, and statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in order to bring about the perception, reproduction, or communication of the fixed sounds and incidental material.

(C) For purposes of this paragraph-- (i) a "spoken word recording" is a sound recording in which are fixed only a series of spoken words, except that the spoken words may be accompanied by incidental musical or other sounds, and (ii) the term "incidental" means related to and relatively minor by comparison.

Also,

A âoeprofessional model productâ is an audio recording device that is designed, manufactured, marketed, and intended for use by recording professionals in the ordinary course of a lawful business, in accordance with such requirements as the Secretary of Commerce shall establish by regulation.

So --

The machine in the cars is a digital audio recording device, as that term is defined in the statute, if:

1) It is commonly distributed to individuals, for use by individuals

I think that's true here

2) It doesn't matter whether or not it is included with, or part of some other machine or device

So the fact that it's part of a car doesn't protect it

3) The digital recording function (i.e. the CD ripping; more on this in a minute) is designed or marketed for the primary purpose of, and that is capable of, making a digital audio copied recording for private use.

Since this refers to only a specific function, and not to the whole device, or to the overall car (which was already excluded as being the other machine or device that this device is part of), I think it probably applies. The feature is designed to make copies, and the CD ripping feature is marketed for the purpose of making copies.

4) There's an exception for professional model products. But those are defined as being designed, manufactured, marketed, AND intended for use by recording professionals. I don't think that this qualifies, and therefore the exception doesn't help us.

5) There's another exception for dictation machines, answering machines, and equipment that is designed and marketed for making recordings of non-musical sounds. Again, I don't think that this qualifies, and therefore the exception doesn't help us.

6) So, it now hinges on whether the digital recording function as discussed above, is designed and marketed for making digital audio copied recordings. That's a reproduction of a digital music recording, in a digital format. Well, whatever the music is being stored as (mp3, wav, flac, etc.) I think we can expect that it's a digital format. So are the CDs digital music recordings?

They're material objects -- like CDs -- in which are fixed, in a digital recording format, only sounds and incidental material, and from which the sounds can be perceived with the aid of a device.

So yes, CDs appear to qualify.

7) We've got a couple of last-ditch exceptions; if none of these apply, we're in trouble. Are the CDs only spoken word recordings? Well, some CDs are, but I doubt that the functionality or even the marketing only involved that. Do the CDs include computer programs beyond the 'incidental material' level discussed above? Likely not; we're basically looking at music CDs.

So that's it: Because the relevant function of the device makes digital copies of CDs, and is designed or marketed with that as the primary purpose, and is commonly sold to individuals, for use by individuals, notwithstanding the fact that it's part of a larger device and a car, the devices at issue are digital audio recording devices. And it's illegal to make, import, or distribute them unless you comply with certain copy protection schemes and pay royalties.

We can even leave the questions about a digital audio interface device (probably not), and digital audio recording medium (very probably not; it's almost certain to be a generic hard drive) as exercises for the reader.

But wait, you say -- didn't the RIAA v. Diamond Multimedia case say that this was allowed?

Well, no, actually; it didn't.

If you're unfamiliar with the Diamond Rio music player that was at issue in the case, just think of the older iPods that really only played music. The Rio had no ripping function; it could only copy mp3 files from an ordinary personal computer equipped with the correct software. The business of ripping CDs happened entirely on the personal computer side of things.

This meant that the Rio had no ability to directly (a requirement in the statute; look for it in the definition of a digital audio copied recording) make copies of a digital music recording, since the Rio copied files from the computer's hard disk, and a computer's hard disk doesn't qualify as a digital music recording. (It's not the physical medium that matters so much as that there's lots of stuff on the disk, such as computer software, beyond the merely incidental level)

This is what saved it -- the lack of a ripping feature. But the doohickey in the cars does have a ripping feature.

Further, the computers used to rip did not fall under the AHRA because they're general purpose computers, and their digital recording function was not their primary purpose. Even things like Apple's old 'Rip, Mix, Burn' ad campaign didn't make it the primary purpose.

Fair use is a fine argument, but it's functionally a defense against copyright infringement. The AHRA, despite being in the Copyright Act, is treated (like the DMCA) as something different. So fair use won't help here; the plaintiffs aren't alleging (AFAIK) infringement, but failure to comply with the AHRA.

The reason that fair use came up with the Rio was because the Rio didn't fall under the AHRA, and contributory copyright infringement was an alternate attempt to go after it, which also didn't work. The same argument as for the Rio would likely work just as well here -- if the plaintiffs were making a claim to which fair use applied. Too bad that they don't seem to be doing that.

Some people might also remember 17 USC 1008, the part of the AHRA that limits certain actions. Sadly, it's of no use. That section limits infringement actions, and this is not an infringement action. It's an action under the AHRA (sections 1009, 1002, and 1003 -- infringement is sections 501 and 106).

So as I said, I think that the plaintiffs here have a solid argument. There's a reason why mp3 players that did their own ripping were few and far between. The defendants here would've been wise to notice that, and to ask their lawyers to check to see if they could offer a ripping feature along with storage and playback, on a specific-purpose device.

I'd rather see the law changed to make this thoroughly legal without the stupid copy protection, restrictions, royalties, etc., but right now, it is what it is.

Comment: Don't get too happy (Score 1) 77

by cpt kangarooski (#47537873) Attached to: Compromise Struck On Cellphone Unlocking Bill

This bill actually does very little. The DMCA is written very broadly, and has been commonly interpreted as to prohibit cell phone unlocking. Because Congress, in the 90s, when they enacted the stupid thing, was aware that the DMCA could go too far, but didn't want to be cautious or have to keep reexamining the law itself, they gave authority to the Library of Congress to add exceptions to it in specific cases. The process for these exceptions is that every three years, anyone who wants an exception has to plead their case. If found worthy, they get an exception. But the exception only lasts until the next rule making session, three years hence. Then it has to be reargued from scratch or lost.

Two rule making sessions ago, the Library of Congress found that cellphone unlocking was worthy of an exception. But in the most recent rule making session, they did not find it worthy, and the exception was lost; it went back to its default state of being illegal.

This law could have amended the DMCA to permanently allow cellphone unlocking. Or it could've directed the Library of Congress to always find that cellphone unlocking is allowed. But it does neither of these.

Instead it only reinstates the rule from two sessions ago for the remainder of the current session. Next year it will have to be argued again, from scratch, to the Library of Congress, or lost, again. And even if argued, it can be rejected, again.

This is less than useless. It's only a temporary patch, it doesn't even have an iota of long term effect (the rules don't take precedent into account, and this doesn't change it), and we've wasted all this effort getting it instead of something worthwhile.

Comment: Re:The key distinction in the ruling (Score 1) 484

by cpt kangarooski (#47316847) Attached to: Supreme Court Rules Against Aereo Streaming Service

So basically, if they just shift from LIVE to a TIME DELAYED model, they could go right on transmitting and not be considered "performing" under the current act.

As J. Scalia points out, the 'standard' the Court has chosen is unclear. Maybe that would be legal, maybe it wouldn't be. We'll never know until either 1) Congress amends the law to be clear about that; 2) Someone tries it and the Court reverses this opinion in a useful way; or 3) Someone tries it and the Court rules squarely on that in light of this opinion.

One thing is for sure: Only someone with lots of resources and a lot of daring will even attempt to find out by actually trying it.

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