Criminalizing Ripping CDs and WGET

Image Source:

It is undisputed that Defendant possessed unauthorized copies of Plaintiffs' copyrighted sound recordings on his computer ... Virtually all of the sound recordings on Exhibit B are in the ".mp3" format. ... Defendant admitted that he converted these sound recordings from their original format to the .mp3 format for his and his wife's use.
Source: Gizmodo

The first thing I did when I bought my CD of Panamanian music--while visiting Panama this summer--was to rip the music to my computer. I wanted to take no chances that I would lose copies of music I hadn't heard since I was a boy, 20-30 years before. The music transports me back to a time when I was a child, when my mom and dad and I lived in Panama, to a simpler time. I did dread losing the CD, or having it scratched fact, I would hate to lose the CD (which has happened with other's). My MP3 music collection has actually outlived

Yet, that act of digitizing the sound on the CD is considered illegal by some.

The RIAA...has lodged documents which condemns mp3s stored on computers from legally bought CDs as unauthorized copies of copyrighted recordings. . .The RIAA’s new stance that even personal use copies on PCs and mp3 players are still illegal makes . . .every single person in the world who has ripped a song from a disc, ie. 90% of the population [a criminal].
Source: TechBlorge

In the Washington Post article cited, the following appears:

The industry's own Web site says that making a personal copy of a CD that you bought legitimately may not be a legal right, but it "won't usually raise concerns," as long as you don't give away the music or lend it to anyone.

UPDATE 01/01/2008: This Washington Post article has been challenged. I quote the comment below:

I can't stand the RIAA, but what they said in court documents is that it's a violation of copyright law to rip a legally purchased CD and place the music in a P2P file sharing folder. By doing so, the RIAA implies, they're making that music available for illegal access. This is a big difference from you ripping your CDs to your computer so you can play on your MP3 player or iPod...My biggest concern when I see people misinterpreting events such as this, is that this could end up generate an accidental court decision that could be interpreted as ripping MP3s for personal use from legally purchased CDs is illegal. Right now, the copyright issue is related to 'publication' of the ripped music, not the actual conversion of the music. The person putting the music into the shared folder is 'publishing' the music, whether the music is actually distributed or not.
Source: Comment on Matthew Ingram post by Shelley

Consider Jennifer Pariser's, the head of litigation for Sony BMG, point of view, who shares:

In Pariser's view, "when people steal, when they take music without compensation, we are harmed." Pariser has a very broad definition of "stealing." When questioned by Richard Gabriel, lead counsel for the record labels, Pariser suggested that what millions of music fans do is actually theft. The dirty deed? Ripping your own CDs or downloading songs you already own.
Source: Ars Technica


It seems possible to make a copy of a music CD that you bought so long as you don't give away the music or lend it to anyone. Yet, when you consider that the concept of creativity building on the sharing of others is limited...why do we continue to listen to this music? Why do we continue to buy CDs? Wouldn't it be better to turn to other sources of music?

Other sources of music could include:


As much as I find great to listen to on the Web, I don't have all that much time to sit in front of the computer and just listen. I'd rather download the music as an audio file and listen to it on my MP3 player. One easy way to do that--regardless of your platform--is shared below.

To download music, say from, you can follow these instructions. Although the instructions there will work for Mac and Windows, you can use WGET to download a whole album using the m3u file available online. The process involves using a program called "WGET." WGET is described in this way:

Wget is a free network utility to retrieve files from the World Wide Web using HTTP and FTP, the two most widely used Internet protocols. It works non-interactively, thus enabling work in the background, after having logged off.

Wget works on GNU/Linux, Windows, and Mac--all shown below.

Instructions for Linux (I was running this on PCLinuxOS 2007 for Gnome) appear below:

On Linux, right-click and save the m3u file to a directory. Then, drop to the command line, change to the directory (for example, cd /home/mg/Desktop/m3u) and type in wget -i filename.m3u

This will automatically download every MP3 file in the m3u text file to the directory you're in.

It will essentially look like this:

If you're on Windows, you now have the option of getting a copy of WGET for Windows. Installation is pretty straightforward...simply download the installer, double-click on the installer, and take it from there...

After installing on Windows, just drop to the command line (click START, choose RUN, then type "cmd").

Then, at the command line:

cd C:\Program Files\GnuWin32\bin

Assuming you've created a directory where you want the mp3 files to download (c:\transfado for example), and that you've saved the m3u file from the web site there (e.g. transfado.m3u), then you would type this:

wget -i c:\transfdo\transfado.m3u

This would download the MP3 files to your computer. Right click the image below to view it full-size.

After that, you have a folder entitled "transfado" with all the MP3 songs you "got".

I was on to a promising start (thanks to Quentin Stafford-Fraser's Blog) on installing WGET for Macintosh, but then found I couldn't copy the files to the appropriate location. I realized I would have to run TERMINAL (it's in your Applications:Utilities folder) then type in the following:

mg-2:~/Desktop/wget mg$ sudo cp wget /usr/local/bin
Password: [my system admin password]
mg-2:~/Desktop/wget mg$ sudo cp wget.1 /usr/local/man/man1
mg-2:~/Desktop/wget mg$ sudo cp wgetrc /usr/local/etc

Everything worked just like on the Windows and GNU/Linux looked like this:

For the purposes of GNU/Linux and Windows, I used Anamar's work (pictured below). The Play All Tracks m3u file came from this page. This is my first intro to this music, so I'm going to listen to it and decide if I really want to invest in it. In the meantime, the music is hauntingly beautiful and fascinating, even if I don't understand Portuguese.

For the Mac Wget, I used the Magnatune Compilation for Relaxation/Spa music. I'll probably be deleting these once I listen to them since they didn't quite grab me, but in the meantime, it was fun learning how to use WGET on Mac and Windows (which I hadn't played around with until now).

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