IP Laws need a dash of reality

It seems that you aren’t supposed to rip legally-purchased CDs into digital format. When I first saw Chris’s original post containing replies from IPOS, I nearly posted my own ‘thesis’ on the issues involved. Then I saw the long list of comments over at Mr Brown’s and I knew this was an issue that hit many Singaporeans.
But considering that my knowledge of copyright law is rusty and not localised (at least while studying in UK I came across the word ‘fair use’ more often), I think I’ll drop a note to my lawyer friends first. Any words written below, are my own unqualified thoughts!
In any case, that’s why I’m so interested in what Prof Lawrence Lessig has to say, as well as his Creative Commons project.
I used to look up to copyright law, fueled as a child when I discovered my (then) best friend had copied my poetry word for word, and had submitted it to the teacher first. I thought laws made sure everything was fair. In university I couldn’t wait to get to my third year so I could study Intellectual Property Law.
But when laws become so distant from real-life situations, you start to wonder. Where music’s concerned: I only buy original CDs. I spent lots of money on original CDs. I can’t possibly carry all of them around with me, so I got an iPod and I was happy up to now, with it. The RIAA could sue 8-year-old girls who illegally downloaded MP3s over file-sharing networks, but I think they didn’t do anything to legitimate CD owners who kept files to themselves. And didn’t we sign an FTA? Why do different standards apply in Singapore then. (I need to read up more on this before making further comments)
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Digital music issues affect some of us personally, and hinder our enjoyment and convenience. But what about global issues such as Third World countries not being able to afford drug patents? I think that’s an even more serious case of IP (in this case, Patent) law being used in a way that doesn’t help humanity. The law should be balanced so that those who created and developed the product or process, are suitably rewarded. But surely prolonging human lives are worth something as well.
Read: Brazil breaks AIDS drug patent and AIDS drug patent uproar – Putting people before profits.
Laws are balanced when they ensure fairness, accreditation and benefits to everyone who are rightfully involved. Laws should not be political tools of greedy corporations who have their cake, and want to eat it too – at everyone else’s expense.