Wash. Post Admits It Blew RIAA CD Ripping Story
January 8, 2008 at 5:43 AM (PT)
THE WASHINGTON POST has admitted that its story that accused the RIAA of arguing in court that it was illegal to rip CDs to a personal computer was wrong. The correction comes over a week after it ran the story -- and after the paper initially backed up the story, and its writer defended it in a debate with RIAA head CARY SHERMAN on NPR Radio (NET NEWS 1/4).
The paper's correction, which ran last SATURDAY (1/5), stated: "A DEC. 30th Style and Arts column incorrectly said that the recording industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer. In a copyright infringement lawsuit the industry's lawyer argued that the actions of an ARIZONA man, the defendant were illegal because the songs were located in a shared folder on his computer for distribution on a peer-to-peer network."
We appreciate that The Washington Post cleared the record.
According to CNET NEWS, the mistaken allegation most likely started on an anti-RIAA blog on DEC. 10th; the inflammatory story started spreading around to other sympathetic websites, until the POST picked it up and ran with it on DEC. 30th. That fanned the flames exponentially; CNET NEWS quoted a variety of website headlines, such as "RIAA Goes After 'Personal Use' Doctrine," "We're All Thieves to the RIAA," and "RIAA Equates Ripping With Stealing." However, at the same time more than a couple websites had retracted the allegations once it investigated the actual legal brief.
The POST, on the other hand, chose to defend the story. First, the paper argued that since the folder containing the music (that was made available on P2P network KAZAA) was on a personal computer, the RIAA was de facto arguing that ripping CDs onto that computer was illegal. Column writer MARC FISHER went so far as to debate the story's veracity with RIAA Pres. CARY SHERMAN on an NPR program on JAN. 3rd.
Now that the paper has thoroughly retracted the veracity of the story, the RIAA issued a brief statement: "We appreciate that THE WASHINGTON POST cleared the record."