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Record exec: Storing music on PC illegal

An executive for a recording industry leader has told a court that consumers do not have the right to copy the music they purchase onto a PC as a backup.

The testimony comes from Jennifer Pariser, the head of litigation for Sony BMG, which was one of the plaintiffs in a downloading case brought to court in Duluth, Minn.

There, a jury returned the verdict that a woman had offered – illegally – music on a file-sharing service, and ordered her to pay $9,250 per song, for a total of about $220,000.

It was during testimony for the case against Jammie Thomas that Pariser delivered her own verdict.

An executive for a recording industry leader has told a court that consumers do not have the right to copy the music they purchase onto a PC as a backup.

The testimony comes from Jennifer Pariser, the head of litigation for Sony BMG, which was one of the plaintiffs in a downloading case brought to court in Duluth, Minn.

There, a jury returned the verdict that a woman had offered – illegally – music on a file-sharing service, and ordered her to pay $9,250 per song, for a total of about $220,000.

It was during testimony for the case against Jammie Thomas that Pariser delivered her own verdict.Top of Form

She testified music labels make no money on various tours or merchandise, and it’s her opinion her company, Sony-BMG, “is half the size now as it was in 2000,” because of music piracy.

“When people steal, when they take music without compensation, we are harmed,” she said.

Under questioning from Richard Gabriel, a lawyer for the record labels, she suggested that extracting digital song files from a CD for storage on a PC, or copying songs that have been purchased and downloaded for an iPod, is stealing.

“When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song,” she said. She said making a copy of a purchased song is just “a nice way of saying ‘steals just one copy’,” she testified.

A columnist at the Arstechnica website said such arguments have been raised before.

“A number of content-related industries filed a joint reply [in a 2006 case] with the government on the effectiveness of the DMCA and the challenges that lay ahead for copyright,” the author said. “The argument relating to CDs espoused in the joint reply could be summarized: although nothing has prevented consumers from making backups of CDs, this cannot be construed as authorization from the music labels for them to do so.”

“Pariser’s views appear to be similar, insofar as she clearly suggests that consumers have no right to make backups of the music that they have purchased in CD form or even in download form,” he wrote.

The columnist noted that studies show a majority of music on portable players such as the iPod comes from sources other than download services, and in fact such players often come with software intended to do just that.

“According to Pariser’s view, this is stealing,” the columnist said.

A lawyer for Thomas, Brian Toder, argued during the trial that his client wasn’t the one who offered the songs on the a sharing site, but Gabriel said the evidence pointed to Thomas as the one who “infringed” on the recordings. Thomas, of Brainerd, Minn., had denied offering 1,702 songs on the website Kazaa.

The case was the first of the thousands that have been filed against consumers over alleged file-sharing operations to be brought to court, and the industry is hopeful the verdict will serve as a deterrent to others.

On the No Rock and Roll Fun website, a blogger noted that Pariser “represents a label which was found guilty of rigging prices in the U.S., and which installed rootkits on its customers PCs.”

“You might think she’d better off looking to that sort of thing in her own company before attempting to tell a court – under oath – that she believed choosing to do what you wish with music tracks you’ve paid for is criminal behavior,” the blogger wrote.

 

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