Friday, January 04, 2008

What's your digital footprint?

Somehow I missed this when it first broke. Scottsdale's Jeffrey Howell got a big start to the new year by getting sued by the RIAA.

Mr. Howell shared 54 copies of songs over a file-sharing network, but that's not all the RIAA is mad about. According to one of their lawyers, even if you buy the CD, you ought not to be allowed to rip copies of it to your computer or iPod. (Ooops - more than one of their lawyers.)

This hasn't a snowball's chance in the Sixth Circle - a "Ban the iPod" campaign is doomed, even with Weird Al's catchy "Don't Download This Song" as an anthem. Besides, if they're that mad, they could always pressure the manufacturers to make it impossible to copy any compact disc. Do your own dirty work, right?

That last link is to a blogger who says "My I-pod now has 1696 songs on it. All ripped from CDs I purchased." He is thus 31.4 times as guilty (in the RIAA's eyes) of theft as Mr. Howell. I am a whopping 62.3 times, and counting.

There are, I'm sure, a few gentle souls who respect Mother RIAA, who tilt their heads sadly and shed a single noble tear over the rampant fair use of our own purchased goods in the format most convenient to us. Making Howell's 54 songs the standard "digital footprint," tally up how large your impact is, and how much you make Barry Manilow cry. (Bonus points if you own a 160-GB iPod, the musical equivalent of a Hummer running on jet fuel.)

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