September 26, 2023

Does Your Car Have a Music Hard Drive In It? Here’s Why That May be a Problem

While car shopping a couple of years ago, a guy at my local Infiniti dealer pointed out something interesting about that year’s G35 coupe.

“When you slide a CD into the player,” he said, “it automatically rips the disc to an onboard hard drive, creating an MP3 library.  From that point on, all your music is store on the hard drive and you never have to worry about bringing CDs in the car again.”

I admitted that this was kinda cool, but that I was more concerned that the car had some kind of smartphone interface. Still, this feature became a selling point for some car buyers.  In fact, a buddy of mine just bought a new Accord with an onboard hard drive.

This bit of technology has not sat well with the US-based Alliance of Artists & Recording Companies. Last Friday, they filed a lawsuit against Ford and GM over their onboard music hard drive systems, saying that this contravened the 1992 Audio Home Recording Act. How? Because that law laid down all kinds of rules by which digital copies of music could be made. They say that they should have been paid by the automakers for these devices–and because they weren’t, they’re demanding $2,500 in lost royalties and damages for every unit that was sold.

The problem, though, is that there are plenty of exemptions to this law. You may have heard of one called “the iPod.”  And what is this in-dash hard drive other than a device similar to the iPod?

It’s a pretty looney lawsuit, really, one that reeks of desperation to get royalties from anywhere..  Details can be found at Bloomberg Business Week.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37107 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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