7.7 MP3.com case

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the court considered MP3's service to be blatant copyright violation. Lessig considers that they had a point if the law is interpreted literally, but if the real issue was avoiding piracy of music:

  • My.MP3 did not facilitate theft – users had to demonstrate that they had the CD;

  • My.MP3 theoretically increased the value of a CD because users could play their music anywhere;

  • the closure of MP3 could lead to the production of more copies of the same CDs as individuals resort to copying their own.

MP3.com wanted to be allowed to ‘space shift’ content just as individuals could. This would allow people to get access to their music wherever they had access to the internet, without having to make their own copies of their CD collections. Sony had been allowed by the Supreme Court to ‘time shift’ content with their video cassette recorders (VCRs), in this context taping TV programmes and replaying them later. Lessig believes the court should have given more leeway to MP3.com's innovation.