As readers know, I'm favorably disposed to technical means such as DRM, watermarking, fingerprinting, conditional access, and encryption for protecting digital content provided that the technology is reasonably user friendly and that those who use it to protect content provide full disclosure to consumers.
As reported by Marc Fisher in the Washington Post, the RIAA is arguing in a legal brief in a suit against Jeffrey Howell (and elsewhere) that the mere act of ripping tunes from music CDs and storing those tracks constitutes making illegal copies.
The Howell case was not the first time the industry has argued that making a personal copy from a legally purchased CD is illegal. At the Thomas trial in Minnesota, Sony BMG's chief of litigation, Jennifer Pariser, testified that "when an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." Copying a song you bought is "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy,' " she said.
Fisher goes on to note:
The RIAA's legal crusade against its customers is a classic example of an old media company clinging to a business model that has collapsed. Four years of a failed strategy has only "created a whole market of people who specifically look to buy independent goods so as not to deal with the big record companies," Beckerman says. "Every problem they're trying to solve is worse now than when they started."
Unless and until the major record labels figure out a new business model, they and their agents will continue with what can only be called Institutionalized Stupidity, which is the opposite of Collective Intelligence.
Update: Art Hutchinson has a similar take here.