The music industry entered a new automotive battleground. The Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies filed a lawsuit against several car companies, including General Motors and Ford Motor Company, seeking damages for vehicles equipped with what it believes are digital audio recording devices. Ford has filed a motion to dismiss the case.
The ability to record music from personal CDs is just one feature for the targeted digital dashboards. Ford claims that the systems are not subject to the Audio Home Recording Act — a law which implemented a tax in 1992 on personal media devices that could be used for copying.
These cases will hinge on the definition of “DARD” (Digital Audio Recording Devices), a category of potential copyright infringement that was instituted with the 1992 law. As Billboard points out, a courtroom showdown in 1999 established that computers and hard drive were not DARDs, even though they obviously have music copying and storing capability. The automaker will argue that digital dashboards are essentially computers.
The music business has seen radical changes since the law went on the books. Connected dashboards are already posing a threat to AM/FM listening and CD listening. Cars are a valued source of audience and car buyers have a strong interest in entertainment tech, so it makes sense that the usual leaders are fighting hard to protect that turf.