Definition of piracy: Sony vs Microsoft

4 Oct 2007

When is making a copy of a song you already own considered piracy? When Sony says so.

The first ever US trial over illegal music downloads started yesterday: a court battle between a 30-year-old mother of two from Minnesota, Jammie Thomas, and Capitol Records.

Thomas is one of over 26,000 people to be landed with a lawsuit by the Recording Industry of America (RIA) and seven of the major music labels.

Jennifer Pariser, the head of litigation for Sony BMG, was put on the stand to highlight the damage illegal file sharing is doing to the music industry. She claimed that Sony BMG is now half the size it was in 2000 due to music piracy.

Pariser said that making a copy of a song from a CD you own is piracy, as is downloading a song you already own. She stated in court that making one copy of a song was a euphemism for stealing one copy of a song.

Sony’s logic means that transferring music from your CD albums onto your MP3 player is a form of piracy.

Microsoft seems to be heading in a different direction with the upcoming launch of its Zune Social. The company is encouraging music downloaders to share their music collection with friends through the wireless feature on the Zune player.

Although limited to three plays, with Microsoft’s new MP3 player the consumer will be able to listen, albeit thrice, to the entire music catalogue of their friend’s Zune.

The Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) defines piracy as the “unauthorised duplication of music from legitimate recordings without the permission of rights owners.”

Should we give Bono a ring before we make just ‘One’ copy from our CD collection onto our iPod?

By Marie Boran