RIAA now saying that ripping CDs is illegal?!?

I’m surprised this isn’t making bigger waves. Via TechCrunch:

“The RIAA has lodged documents in the ongoing case of the Record Industry vs Jeffrey Howell that argues that ripping music from legally purchased CD’s is illegal…

The case itself may not find in favor of defendant but not rule that CD ripping is illegal. Howell is accused of sharing files via Kazaa, but his sole defense is that he did not share those files and they were for personal use only, hence the RIAA’s disturbing argument.”

So ummm, unless I want to repurchase my entire CD collection via iTunes or eMusic (if that’s even possible, what with a few artists still holding out on digital music), I can’t put it on my iPod? My convenient, portable mp3 player? Are we going to see a rise in “portable” CD players again?

If their argument succeeds, manufacturers of mp3 players will be put in the awkward position of having most, if not all, of their customers being prosecuted for ripping music for personal use. But one could argue that their connected digital music services (or rather, iTunes, for the most part) might benefit from a number of people repurchasing their albums in digital format to avoid legal action. Oh wait – that’s not really a probability. People don’t like paying for THE SAME THING TWICE.

Are the lawyers representing the RIAA really just spies from independent labels that are purposefully trying to drive it into the ground? Because that’s what it’s beginning to look like to me…

CatDirt, you got any lawyerly insight into this case?