Due to a feature embedded in their audio unit software, the cars produced by GM and Ford can actually rip audio CDs.
The Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies filed a suit against General Motors and Ford, claiming that their “Jukebox” and “Hard Drive Device” audio unit are allowing users to rip copyrighted CDs, falling under the Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA), which means the companies should pay royalties as they do not at the moment. Denso and Clarion, who are partners providing the audio units, are also targeted by the lawsuit.
AHRA exists since 1992 when record labels became aware of the fact that cassette tape recorders can produce almost identical copies of any audio recordings.
Both automakers have been selling vehicles with this type of systems for several years, which means, according to the artists and record labels, that the damage is up to hundreds of millions of dollars and that they want to terminate the deal.Those suing did not take into consideration the fact that AHRA has exemptions for personal use of copyrighted material and recording equipments that are part of a bigger device. The question remains: how illegal is it to make a safety copy of an original CD at home, in case it gets scratched or broken, compared to simply copying it in your car on a hard drive, without damaging the support?
By Gabriela Florea