Rip, burn, get sued

A new bill aims to make digital rights management a thing of the past. The record companies respond with the grace we've come to expect.

Published March 1, 2007 9:28PM (EST)

You know how frustrating it is when you buy a CD and then realize you can't upload it to your computer or play it in your car because it's loaded with DRM technology? Well, a bill was introduced in Congress this week that aims to make that problem a thing of the past. The bill, called the Freedom and Innovation Revitalizing U.S. Entrepreneurship (FAIR USE) Act, will make it easier for consumers of digital media to use the content they buy in a variety of ways. In essence, if the bill becomes law, you won't be stuck buying CDs or downloading music from iTunes that you couldn't then go ahead and copy. This new legislation is backed by the Consumer Electronics Association, which, of course, makes all the gizmos and hoo-has (e.g., MP3 players) that people want to upload their music to.

In what seems like a strange bit of kismet, a couple of days later Idolator reported that the Recording Industry Association of America has launched a Web site designed to provide info to all the poor, unlucky bastards who are being sued by the big music companies for illegal downloading. You may be able to rip and burn to your heart's content someday, but the P.R. geniuses at the record labels are gently reminding you that they'll still try and bust your ass for doing it. Of course, that reminder comes in the form of a "friendly" set of FAQs, my favorite of which is, "Will my parents find out about this lawsuit?" The section called "Do you want to settle a case?" chirpily announces, "You can pay the settlement by credit card, using either Mastercard, Visa or Discover."

At the same time, also reported in Idolator, the RIAA has apparently been approaching Web hosting companies directly and asking them to suspend the accounts of bloggers who post unsanctioned MP3s.

The record industry: Always there to help.

-- David Marchese

By Salon Staff

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