Found this on Scott Keith’s Blog of Doom, those bitches at the RIAA are just that…bitches…
by Robert Strohmeyer and Michael Ansaldo
Monday, 22 May 2006
Opinion: RIAA Sues XM, Deserves Squat
By Robert Strohmeyer
In yet another display of its absurdly litigious nature, the Recording Industry Association of America filed suit against XM Radio last week, alleging that XM2Go devices such as the Pioneer Inno violate the record industry’s intellectual property rights. For those of us who grew up recording our favorite songs to cassette tapes from live radio broadcasts, this move only adds to a growing sense of resentment toward an industry that increasingly disregards the fair use rights of its customers. Here’s why we hope XM fights this lawsuit to the bitter end.
In its complaint against XM Radio, the RIAA claims that, when coupled with recording-capable devices, the satellite radio service transforms from a live broadcast service to a music download service akin to the iTunes music store. As such, say RIAA lawyers, XM should have to pay licensing fees to the record industry.
But apart from the fact that it’s a digital, rather than analog, device, there’s little functional difference between a Pioneer Inno and an old-school FM stereo with a built-in cassette recorder. U.S. courts have long upheld the right of consumers to record live radio broadcasts for personal use, and for good reason. Personal use recordings of live radio do not pose a credible threat to the recording industry’s sales, in large part because there’s no guarantee that the song you’re looking for is likely to play at the time you’re hoping to record it. Moreover, personal recordings generally constitute time-shifting mechanisms, simply postpoing the listening experience rather than creating a permanent archive. This tended to be particularly true in the 1980’s, when cassette tape recordings of radio broadcasts were almost certain to sound ridiculously bad compared to commercially distributed recordings. And it’s still true today, since devices like the Pioneer Inno feature limited storage and offer no means of transferring recorded music to other listening devices.
The RIAA argues that the Inno’s interface sets it apart from previous live recording systems in that it can sort tracks and recordings in an intuitive way, making it easy for consumers to find a particular recording. But this feature is no different from the on-screen menus of digital video recorders, which also sort recordings by name, channel, time and other criteria, and which have also been upheld by U.S. courts.
XM’s response to this case will impact more than just its own mobile receivers. The outcome of this case could have serious repercussions on the future right of consumers, as it could set an important precedent regarding what constitutes fair use. If XM sees this case through litigation, it could win a court decision that reaffirms your right to record live radio for your personal use, regardless of whether you use a digital technology to create the recording.
Technologies change, but your rights shouldn’t. Unfortunately, the record industry is seizing on the uncertaintly of the digital age to take away rights we’ve long enjoyed. Where consumers, news agencies, documentary filmmakers and others have historically enjoyed relative freedom to include copyrighted material in their works under fair use laws, the entertainment industry has used frivilous lawsuits to intimidate you, me and the rest of America into paying for every snippet of sound or every glimpse of an image, regardless of the place or context in which we see or hear it. To make matters worse, if the record industry’s tactics succeed, companies like XM and Sirius and those that produce their hardware devices will have to think twice before bringing any further innovations to the marketplace, stiffling innovation in the United States and giving less encumbered foreign competitors an unfair advantage. A firm stand from XM would not only protect its own technology interests, but also send a clear message to the permissions hounds that sheer bullying won’t work and your rights aren’t for sale.
I also agree with what Scott Keith said on his blog (which you didn’t see here) is that next the RIAA will start sueing us for humming songs in our cars. At this rate, it looks like it will be getting to that point.