First it was the cassette tape, then it was the CD-R. Now, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is claiming that ripping CDs onto computers is piracy. This is coming at a time when the RIAA is heavily targeting and prosecuting those who leak major label albums onto peer-to-peer file sharing services, not to mention the fact that Apple has sold more than one hundred million iPod's to date. Surely anyone who uses an iPod has no doubt been ripping their CDs onto their computer via the iTunes program, which is absolutely necessary to store songs on the iPod. What else would they listen to, besides the occasional song they bought off iTunes? The claim does point out that there's a fine line between "file sharing" and "space shifting," which is "accessing a user's own songs to a different device for listening outside of a regular location." But still, can they really stop us from utilizing the technology that we have been told all along is perfectly legal to use and having it do what it was designed to do? Will computer CD drives no longer have the capability of reading the disc code and writing it onto it's hard drive and memory? If the RIAA had their way, we'll be back to typewriters and Victrola's in no time.
I don't even own an iPod, but I can't tell you how many times I have ripped CDs into my computer over the years, both for back-up and for the pure pleasure of having access to tracks that would end up on a burned mix CD I decided to make. I borrow CDs from the library, from friends, from work, and I almost always rip those into my computer before making a physical copy on a CD-R(also a big no-no!). I can't buy everything, obviously. Does that make me a criminal? Who's to say that I wouldn't eventually BUY the actual record (if I like it enough, I will!). After all, I prefer the complete aesthetic of the album.
So the next time you or I consider ripping a CD onto the computer, remember, you will be committing an act of piracy. Maybe we should bring the cassette back - even with that pesky hiss, it sure beats the sound of gavels and whiny, soulless big-wigs in court. Plus, cassettes make a mix a lot more fun and involved.