Are home tapers ripping off musicians?

Remember Jammie Thomas, the Minnesota woman ordered to pay $220,000 as repentance for sharing 24 songs on Kazaa? According to the Duluth News Tribune, Thomas may get another shot at a trial.

In an order filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. Davis wrote that he’s contemplating granting a new trial on the grounds that he may have given the jury instructions “contrary to binding 8th Circuit precedent.” Davis told jurors that the act of making copyrighted sound recordings available for electronic distribution on a peer-to-peer network violated the owners’ copyright regardless of whether actual distribution was shown. But in Thursday’s order, Davis wrote that he found a 1993 ruling from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Minnesota, that infringement requires “an actual dissemination of either copies or phonorecords.”

Which, of course, brings us to that dusty old demon: home taping. If all the apoplectic and apocalyptic death-of-the-record-industry talk of the Thomas case sounds familiar, it's because you're old. We dredged up a 1982 City Pages news piece called "Getting a cut: Are home tapers ripping off musicians?"

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Let's just dive right in at the top:

Record companies and some recording artists are making a very strong pitch that home taping is killing the music and recording industry. Tapedeck owners--and their numbers are burgeoning--know you can buy a blank 90-minute tape for half the price of a new record album. And you can put two albums on one tape, which effectively cuts the price per album to 25 percent of the retail price of a vinyl disc.

Now that's some math today's record execs could live with! The matter went before Congress, of course:

...In recent congressional hearings, record company officials have testified that their industry is suffering from declining sales figures and are blaming home taping as a cause. They have testified at hearings on a legislative proposal that calls for royalties on both audio and video blank tapes, as well as taping hardware.

Our reporter's voice of reason is Joe Petite, marketing manager for Memorex Corp:

"In all the discussions record companies have had they ignore the fact that those who tape buy more records than those who don't tape," says Petite. "People who tape do so because of their love for music; taping helps them get more enjoyment from the music that is available."

Things really get crazy when none other than Alan Greenspan worms his way into the mix:

Blank-tape-industry arguments about greed and fact-twisting do not negate the record-industry argument. Economist Alan Greenspan, speaking for the recording industry and quoted in Billboard magazine, told a Congressional subcommittee that "55 percent of borrowed records used for taping would have been purchased had home taping not been possible."

Enough talk. All this sticking-it-to-the-man chatter has me itching for a cut. You want some too? I've done some sniffing around for the both of us, and I've figured out how to get into this two-albums-on-one-tape scam--and for roughly $162.83. Check it out: You've got to start with a good needle. You want fidelity, right? Then make sure you're pulling the most from your platter:

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Next, you need a deck. As our reporter noted, tapedeck owners "are burgeoning" and you best elbow your way onto the bandwagon, friend. Check out this sweet prize:

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Now it's time for the dirty work. Stock up on blank tapes while they're still legal! I'm a TDK man. You?

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There you go folks. And let's stick together. We're bringing these dinosaurs down one J-Card at a time. Drop the needle and press record, the revolution is now.

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