No Chronos, mp3s aren't illegal

I understand the Reader’s position on intellectual property rights, and I don’t want to start another huge pissing match over mp3s, but I was a little disturbed to see this GQ thread:
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=77198
get stomped on so hard. The OP wanted to rip his own personal collection of mp3s for his own personal use and not for trading, and asked about obtaining an encoder. Chronos erased links and locked the thread with a retort “So far as I know, the courts currently consider ripping MP3s off of a CD to be in violation of copyright, even if it’s just for personal use.”
Sorry Chronos, you are wrong. The Home Recording Act of 1992 explicitly allows the making of recordings for personal use, as long as those recordings are STRICTLY for personal use, or for fair use. This allowance for personal use was upheld in 1999 with the MPAA v. Diamond Multimedia lawsuit. See this article from the NYTimes:
http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/99/07/cyber/cyberlaw/09law.html
“But do consumers have a similar right to use their computers to make personal copies of digital works they have already purchased or legitimately downloaded?
In an important decision, a Federal appeals court has partially answered that question by declaring that just as television viewers have the right to time-shift, computer users have the right to “space-shift” – they can make additional copies of digital files they have obtained lawfully in order to listen to them in different places.
…under the ruling, consumers may, for example, legitimately transfer music from their audio CDs to their hard drive, convert the files to MP3 format and either play them on the computer or download copies of the files to the Rio or to other devices.”
I perfectly understand (and agree with) the SDMB position of stomping on threads and deleting links to Napster and alternative services that have clearly been judged to be illegal copyright violation. And I understand that it is a very short hop from making legal mp3s for oneself and transmitting those files illegally. However, I think that in the interest of the SDMB’s avowed goal of “fighting ignorance” that you’ll have to admit that your position that ripping your own CDs to mp3s is illegal is factually incorrect. Now I understand that most of these mp3 threads end up with a furious debate and some end up in the Pit, and perhaps it is not generally in the interest of this board to have huge high-traffic debates about mp3s. But if SDMB is going to have an absolute and total prohibition on ANY discussion of mp3s, I think you better make it clear that this is NOT because personal-use mp3s are illegal, because they aren’t, but because the topic is just arbitrarily banned.

I agree entirely, but intentionally posting a non-question in GQ is not a good way to prove your case to the administration.

I’m with you 100% on this one. What is the point of CD ripping software if not to make MP3s of your music? They encourage this sort of thing. I always find it so much more convenient to play music (MP3s) that I’ve collected on my HDD, rather than having to keep switching CDs, so I can hear some of this, a little of that. That’s what we all do! There’s nothing illegal about it! Sheesh!

I have to say, think this thread belongs in the Pit, or MPSIMS, or something. (Not that you’re ranting, but you are correcting Chronos on something, so I don’t think this is a “General Question”.)

I thought the implied questions were pretty clear, but I’ll state them in a more straightforward manner.
Is discussion of mp3 encoding on SDMB banned on the false premise that all mp3s are illegal? Or is there a prohibition on discussion of mp3 encoding for some other reason? Are the mods able to separately deal with discussion of mp3 encoding as opposed to discussion of illegal mp3 trading?

Anyway, I only posted this here because it’s really a continuation of the other thread, where I would have responded if it hadn’t been locked. If this is wrong, mea culpa, and move the thread where it belongs.

Oh yeah, and I guess I was answering Chronos’ implied question whether personal-use mp3s were illegal. That puts it in GQ, I guess, where the other questions sound like this was headed for ATMB.

Nonsense, you were posting it here to get the most attention from the crowd. The posting belongs in a different forum and you know it.

Perhaps the mods are a bit sensitive to copyright issues (perhaps even over-sensitive on occasion) but they have every reason to be that way. In the current litigious environment surrounding these issues, in real world terms, the rule of law is often secondary to the threat of lawsuit. This board could be taken down in a heartbeat if the Chicago Reader determines it’s an incipient lawsuit magnet because of the stuff being posted.

There is a fine balance to be struck between pushing the limits of what is theoretically allowed to be posted and what is possible to discuss without potential, external legal harrassment. Given the incredible range of stuff the Reader allows to be posted on this board I don’t think they are first amendment weenies by any measure, but I would imagine they also aren’t particularly fond of potentially paying $200 - $400 an hour to defend your right to rip songs.

If they want to be twitchy about digital copyright issues God Bless 'em it’s their board. If it offends your sensibilities (and I can see how it might) there are about a gazillion other digital music oriented bit buckets on which you can defend your right to rip.

Since the OP was a complaint about a moderators actions, this rightly belongs in the Pit.

Yes astro, I perfectly understand the Reader’s right to limit discussion on whatever topics, at their whim. As the saying goes, “Freedom of the Press is limited to those who own one” and the Reader owns this particular press. But I don’t see the logic in banning discussion of perfectly legal software issued by companies like Microsoft and Apple. If there is an arbitrary prohibition on discussion of mp3 encoding, I’d like the mods to clarify that and say so.

whats the dif between ripping an mp3 and making a tape?

About $2000 in equipment.

Yes, if the mods have a reason we are unclear on for deleting information about ripping MP3s, I’d like to understand. It’s their board, and they can do whatever they wish, but clarification would help us all, I think.

But it is not exactly “fighting ignorance” to claim that MP3s are illegal, even for personal use. They clearly are not illegal. I have seen whole news stories on how to rip MP3s on TV networks like Tech TV and whatnot. Obviously there isn’t much legal risk in discussing the nuts and bolts of ripping MP3s of your own CDs, from what I’ve seen. Otherwise, most tech web sites, computer magazines, and television networks would be constantly sued.

I get the impression that the closing of the aforementioned mp3 thread in GQ was not the result of any hard-line that the mods are now taking regarding mp3s and such, but rather one of ignorance on Chronos’ part (by which, I do not mean, “Chronos is an ignoramus!”, but rather that he was perhaps unaware or misinformed about the legality of the issues).

Of course, I haven’t been around here for very long, and could be wrong.

The simple solution: Unfortunately, Mp3’s have been involved in a lot of illegal activity (or so the courts have decided), so any talk about Mp3’s themselves carries a strong potential of turning to talk of illegal acts.

It sucks, yeah, but Chronos didn’t make the court ruling.

Under the law, nothing. Giving the tape (or MP3) to someone else or selling it, however, is naughty. Fair Use allows a person to make recordings of music they own (or television shows, etc) as long as they are not profiting or redistributing it. I use the Ogg Vorbis format (similar to MP3 but without patents or licensing issues) to rip all my CDs to my computer, where I have a big custom database app to keep track of all of them. It’s way cool.

Add me to the list of dissident voices. I use MP3 encoding so that, instead of carting around several hundred CDs, I carry a CD wallet of less than 15, each containing about 10 audio CD’s worth of music, for playback on my PowerBook. Some of the music originated on vinyl, and some on audio cassette tape–this was digitized to AIFF and then compressed to MP3 and joins the MP3s that were created from CD.

It would be good to have the board admins acknowledge that there is no reason to delete any links or references I might post concerning the software I use to do this, or detailing the process, as the process is entirely legal, the software cannot be used to share or distribute files (illegally or otherwise), and disseminating this knowledge contributes to fighting ignorance and makes the life of a music lover considerably more pleasant.

It also makes the life of a board regular a lot more pleasant to know that restrictions on what we can post are imposed only as necessary, in keeping with the spirit of the board.

Sorry, but I have to do it…

If you replaced “MP3” with “gun” in the above sentence, it would be just as valid an argument (i.e. not at all).

Add me to those wondering why the thread was closed.

Well, since it was my thread got closed, figure I ought to throw in my $.02.

I understand why Chronos shut down the thread; it is in our best interest that the SDMB not generate lawsuits. But I think he was overreacting, and that the thread should not have been shut down.

I don’t think you quite get it. No lawsuit will ever come from linking to legal software, and mp3 encoders are perfectly legal. But I think you’re on to something. Perhaps the mods have heard of the DMCA provisions that make it illegal to even link to software like DeCSS. This has nothing to do with the whole mp3 scene.
I wish the mods would respond to this issue, I don’t see why they won’t step forward and clarify our perfectly reasonable questions, even if it’s an arbitrary “my way or the highway.”

Not to start a side argument, but I think I do understand: