Sony BMG's chief anti-piracy lawyer Jennifer Pariser claimed this week that copying music you own is stealing. According to her view people who rip music from CDs they own to transfer it to their digital audio players are thieves:
Pariser noted that music labels make no money on touring, radio, or merchandise, which leaves the company particularly exposed to the negative effects of file-sharing. "It's my personal belief that Sony BMG is half the size now as it was in 2000," she said, thanks to piracy. In Pariser's view, "when people steal, when they take music without compensation, we are harmed."
Pariser has a very broad definition of "stealing." When questioned by Richard Gabriel, lead counsel for the record labels, Pariser suggested that what millions of music fans do is actually theft. The dirty deed? Ripping your own CDs or downloading songs you already own.
Gabriel asked if it was wrong for consumers to make copies of music which they have purchased, even just one copy. Pariser replied, "When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." Making "a copy" of a purchased song is just "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy'," she said.
Countless studies have shown that the majority of music on portable music players like the iPod comes from sources other than download services. For most people, that music is comprised primarily of songs "ripped" from CD collections to MP3 or some other comparable format. Indeed, most portable music players comes with software (like iTunes) which is designed to facilitate the easy ripping of CDs. According to Pariser's view, this is stealing.