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February 24, 2010

Music format copyright laws need reform

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by Darren Allan

Do you know that it’s illegal to rip a CD from your music collection onto your laptop or MP3 player for listening on the move?

This is what’s known as format shifting, and it is technically illegal to do so under current UK copyright law.

Of course, no one has ever been prosecuted for this infringement, and it wouldn’t be practical to attempt to enforce it, anyway.

But watchdog body Consumer Focus suggests that this is a rather daft state of affairs, and the law should be updated to include digital technologies, if the government wants people to take copyright issues seriously.

Specifically, the watchdog believes a system of fair rights usage should be introduced, to legally allow such format shifting as long as it’s for the non-commercial benefit of the owner only.

According to Consumer Focus, who went out and surveyed 2000 people on this matter, 17% of respondents didn’t realise that ripping a CD onto their laptop was against the law.

And to illustrate the confusion that reigns over copyright, 73% of consumers weren’t exactly sure of what they were legally allowed to copy.

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2 Comments »
  1. In this digital age it is impossible to police copyright anyway, and making laws you cannot police leads to people becoming used to breaking the law, so some will go a step further than copying CD to their MP3 players for their own use, and copy them to a friends player, then when no problems occur from this practice they go a step further, and share copyrighted music on line. Having got away with all of the above some will go a step further and take a CD from a shop without paying, and so it goes on. The only laws worth making are those you can police.

    Comment by Allan — February 24, 2010 @ 12:32 pm

  2. Have to disagree, there is a real physical difference between copying data on a computer, and lifting a physical item from a shop. No reasonable person could equate the two.

    For starters copyright is a civil issue, physical theft is criminal.

    Sharing data does not deprive the original owner, they still have their copy.

    Lifting a physical item incurs a loss for the original owner. Completely different.

    Comment by chris — February 26, 2010 @ 1:19 pm

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