It's no secret that the legacy recording industry players are constantly searching for new ways to make money. Of course, they don't seem all that keen on actually searching for new business models to make money, but rather they tend to default to new ways to squeeze money out of others through legal changes or lawsuits. That's what happens when you have an industry dominated by lawyers, rather than innovators. It's why so many new music services end up getting sued. It's why ASCAP tried to declare that ringtones were a public performance (ditto for the 30 second previews of songs at iTunes). Basically, these industries just go searching under the couch cushions for spare change to sue for because that's how they operate.
The latest such example is the AARC -- the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies -- deciding to file a lawsuit demanding $2,500 for every car in which Ford and GM have installed CD devices that will automatically rip CDs into MP3s to store on a local hard drive. The AARC is a smaller and little known collection society. It was created solely to collect fees from the Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA), one of the many (many) laws that the RIAA foisted upon the world in fear over the rise of digital music. It was designed as something of a "compromise" between the RIAA and the computing and consumer electronics industry. The focus was supposedly to better enable personal, non-commercial home copies of music, while putting royalties on devices used to make serial (repeated) copies.
The problem is that the AHRA is basically a deadletter act, with little real standing in the world today, partly because the act itself killed the market for such devices. The RIAA had tried to use it in the late 1990s to ban the mp3 player (or, well, to tax them to death). But, thankfully, a court in RIAA v. Diamond rejected that interpretation of the law, making mp3 players perfectly legal (without the corresponding royalty tax). That ruling, which destroyed the RIAA's (wrong) interpretation of the law, also opened up the wonderful digital music world we have today, where you can store thousands of songs in your pocket. Without the RIAA v. Diamond ruling, it's unlikely that we'd ever have the iPod.
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