Ford And GM Sued Because You Can Use A Car To Pirate Music

Sure, devices like iPods and laptops are handy for ripping music from CDs, but wouldn't they be better if they weighed 2500lbs and had gas-burning motors making hundreds of horsepower? Sure they would. But the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies doesn't want that to happen.

In fact, they so don't want that to happen that the AARC is suing both GM and Ford (and their associated infotainment-device makers, Denso and Clarion. The lawsuit is concerned with the fact that both Ford and GM's systems allow owners to copy music from CDs to their car's internal hard drives for later playback.

This is, of course, wildly convenient, because who the hell wants to deal with fragile, get-lost-under-the-seats CDs anymore? The problem is that the CDs you rip may not be ones you actually own, and, as the AARC wants us to know, that's a crime on par with stealing blood from a hemophiliac.

The lawsuit claims Ford and GM are in violation of the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992, which seeks to prevent the sale of audio recording devices whose primary function is to copy copyrighted material.

While you could argue that there may be other uses for a car other than copying copyrighted material, Ford's Jukebox owner's manual does state

"Your mobile media navigation system has a Jukebox which allows you to save desired tracks or CDs to the hard drive for later access. The hard drive can store up to 10GB (164 hours; approximately 2,472 tracks) of music."

... which does specifically imply the copying of (potentially) copyrighted CDs to the car's internal storage. GM's "Hard Drive Device" (nice name, GM. Way to phone it in.) accomplishes pretty much the exact same thing. The AARC states in their suit

"defendants designed these devices for the express purpose of copying music CDs and other digital recordings to a hard drive on the devices, and they market these devices emphasizing that copying function,"

AARC Director Linda Bocchi says of the lawsuit

"While no one likes litigation, Ford, GM, Denso, and Clarion have stonewalled long enough, and we are determined to collect the royalties our members ā€“ and all artists and music creators with rights under the AHRA ā€“ are owed."

As of this time, Ford claims to be within their contractual rights, and so far GM hasn't said anything about it. So, better rip your legally-bought CDs to your car's hard drive now!