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RIAA vs. XM

RIAA vs. XM

There appears to be no limit to the scope of targets upon which the RIAA will sic its hounds of hell...er, I mean lawyers. Last Tuesday, the RIAA filed suit against XM Satellite Radio over the Pioneer Inno, a new portable device that lets users record songs broadcast over XM. Here's the thing, though: once you record music onto the device, you can't get it off. Not only that, I had a chance to use the Inno recently, and while it's a superbly designed device with an excellent UI, the sound quality is certainly less than that of the 192Kbps downloads offered by most online music stores now, and it doesn't even come close to CD quality (though it's better than FM). What we're talking about here is a high-tech radio recorder, albeit one with TiVo-like recording capabilities.

So what's the big deal? It's not illegal for consumers to record AM or FM broadcasts, and it's not like Inno users even have the option of using the recordings for anything other than personal enjoyment. It seems to me that this is yet another move by the RIAA to ensure that its executives' overstuffed pocketbooks don't lose any padding, either by forcing XM to pay for "an appropriate distribution license" or by suing the pants off the company. What I wouldn't give to serve on that jury. While we all wait for that to happen (wait...was that a pig I just saw fly by the window?), head over to WNYC's Soundcheck Web page to hear the pretrial debate between Steve Marks (general counsel for the RIAA) and Chance Patterson (vice president of corporate affairs at XM Satellite Radio). Then come back here and tell me what you think.