Copyright law has struggled to keep up with the advancements of the digital age, and this latest piece of news just goes ahead and proves the point.
In late 2014 the British Government legalised the copying of audio CD’s for private usage (that is, you buy a CD of your favorite artist and stick them on your MP3 player). Millions of users had been previously backing up the CD’s anyway, believing what they were doing was indeed within the law.
But, music groups campaigned in the British high court, claiming the “loss of revenue” would hurt them low and behold, the new law was struck down, once again making it illegal to copy your CD’s.
“It is now unlawful to make private copies of copyright works you own, without permission from the copyright holder – this includes format shifting from one medium to another,” said a spokes person of the UK Intellectual Property Office.
“…it includes creating back-ups without permission from the copyright holder as this necessarily involves an act of copying,” said a Government spokesperson.
This means not only is it illegal for users to backup their CD’s or ‘rip’ them to their MP3 player, but creating backups of your PC (assuming there’s any MP3 or music being backed up) is also completely illegal under the new British law, hence making software such as Apple’s iTunes illegal in the UK too.
As this is a complex area of law, the Government is carefully considering the implications of the ruling and the available options, before deciding any future course of action.”
“The Government is not aware of any cases of copyright holders having prosecuted individuals for format shifting music solely for their own personal use,” the IPO spokesperson says.
What makes this even more confusing and worrying is that even Apple are now breaking the law, because they’re actively promoting iTunes and encouraging users to make use of its ripping feature.
Technically speaking, this means Apple could face legal action within the UK- as crazy as that might sounds for promoting the audio ripping functionality of its iTunes software.
Problems such as this are ripe on the internet, and “fair usage” clauses are a particular minefield in the creation of content on YouTube, which relies on US copyright law (which is a little better than British law on this subject, but not much!).
Hopefully the British government will fix this insane loophole in the law.