In a statement that directly contradicts an earlier position from the famous Grokster case - RIAA lawyers in Arizona told the defendant in the case Atlantic v. Howell yesterday that he violated copyright law when he put music from CDs he had purchased onto his computer in MP3 format.

"Once Defendant converted Plaintiffs’ recording into the compressed .mp3 format," the RIAA said, "and they are in his shared folder, they are no longer the authorized copies distributed by Plaintiffs."

Update: A number of people have told me I'm unfairly characterizing what was said. Perhaps someone can explain to me how the location of the file changes its legal status. I can understand changing the format being an issue, but that's passed the test in the past. Perhaps it's really just the sharing that's being objected to, in which case there's nothing new here - but the way the legal statement reads certainly looks like there are objections to putting the files on the computer at all. Otherwise why mention that part?

The blog Recording Industry vs. The People, origin of this and many related stories, pulls the corresponding quote out of the US Supreme Court case MGM v. Grokster:

"The record companies, my clients, have said, for some time now, and it's been on their Website for some time now, that it's perfectly lawful to take a CD that you've purchased, upload it onto your computer, put it onto your iPod."

Is the industry's newest position one of a paradigm on the brink of implosion or an indication of a coming era of greater control than ever before? Is all of this being overstated? Perhaps we can look to our wise leader for an indication. (Hint: The Beatles aren't available on iTunes, so in all likelihood...)