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Sony BMG labels backups "stealing" in trial

updated 01:35 pm EDT, Wed October 3, 2007

Sony BMG on Piracy

Record label Sony BMG's current stance on piracy would label even typical fair use practices as illegal, according to testimony from one of the company's legal experts in an anti-piracy lawsuit. Litigation head Jennifer Pariser remarked during the case that any instance of copying songs from one medium to another was considered stealing, regardless of whether the listener had already bought the music or a common understanding of fair use, which is not enshrined in law but has been established as a legal precedent.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song," Pariser said. Arguing that a copy is just for personal use is only "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy'," she added.

The definition of theft could be critical to the suit, which has Sony BMG's sub-label Capitol Records accusing defendant Jammie Thomas of hurting company profits by sharing and downloading pirated songs through the KaZaA peer-to-peer service. Successfully reasoning against fair use would refute arguments from Thomas' defense that a user can legally download songs they already own.

While proceedings for the suit have only recently begun, it is widely believed that an outcome in either direction will become the foundation for future policies on fair use and file sharing for music. Pariser's interpretation would make unpaid downloading and CD ripping illegal by themselves, potentially criminalizing millions of users.

Thomas' complaint is the first to reach the trial phase, with previous cases either resulting in a settlement or being dropped after music labels failed to show in court or meet criteria to begin a trial.

by MacNN Staff




  1. notehead

    Joined: Dec 1969


    too bad

    Yeah, well, Sony can watch their customer base evaporate. Anyway, it's barely relevant considering that if I buy one of their recordings and make a hundred back-up copies strictly for myself, they will never even know about it.

  1. legacyb4

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I would love to challenge Ms. Pariser to publicly divulge the contents of her home computer and have her explain the origins of each media file and confirm that it only exists in a single location without ever having been backed up or transferred to a "new medium".

  1. yahtzee

    Joined: Dec 1969


    MP3 player

    How would someone get music onto their Sony MP3 player without copying? Sony's documentation describes ripping CDs to a hard drive and then transferring songs to the player.

  1. Tralthamidor

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Hey why stop there. Next we will be criminals for listening to a song more than once or more than one person listening to a song at one time.

    Hey Ms. Pariser, can I call you and leave you a voice message? Then I sue your a** for transferring my intellectual property to a different media.

  1. IonCable

    Joined: Dec 1969


    sony v sony

    So when does the Sony V Sony lawsuit begin? Sony BMG should be sueing Sony for promoting stealing of music for its use on Song MP3 players.

  1. ClevelandAdv

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Sony's lawyers....

    ...are scumbags.

  1. zaghahzag

    Joined: Dec 1969



    when the music industry stops treating its customers as criminals, gives a reasonable share to the artists, and starts selling their product at reasonable prices, they will find that people don't hate them so much.

  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    you wanna see theft?

    here, Sony BMG, I'll show you what music piracy really looks like...

  1. mytdave

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Most big labels suck

    Sony - Stupid. (Universal too for that matter). When will these people learn?

    I've had it. No more. The mainstream music scene isn't that great anymore anyway. All the tunes are the same. (What do you expect when you have a group of "songwriters" who write all the songs instead of each artist creating their own, original works?)

    With this latest bonehead ('you're all theives') stunt, I'm no longer going to support Sony, Universal & others with my dollars. I'm turning to indie music only, if I buy anything at all.

  1. beeble

    Joined: Dec 1969


    license versus ownership

    They can't have it both ways. If they are selling me a copy of a song then I should be allowed to do whatever I want with that copy. But I can't because according to them they've only sold me a licnese to use the song in certain ways. The license doesn't (at least from anything I've seen in a CD cover) have anything to do with method/s of storage. Since copyright law doesn't or established precedent doesn't limit method's of storage either I think Sony's lawyer needs to go back to Cornflakes U and get a clue about the law. This issue has gone the Supreme Court and they differ with this Pariser character. They are the Supreme Court of the United States. Who the h*** does this prick think they are?

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