Interesting news out of the UK today regarding copyright status when it comes to digital property. Here's how I best understood it all:
- Last year, the UK Government made it clear that making backups of your music as already thought legal by most people was in fact legal as a typical exception to copyright law. UK copyright law was amended to legalize this common form of copying (CDs, DVDs, Music for personal use only).
- The Intellectual Property Office spoke up to clarify the rules, and while they did...well, I can't help but think that the people in the office have no idea how computers actually work.
Here's what they clarified:
“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."
"The IPO specifically notes that copying a CD to an MP3 player is not permitted."
“…it includes creating back-ups without permission from the copyright holder as this necessarily involves an act of copying”
The government is not happy with the decision by the High Court, but has not yet decided if it will appeal. A spokesperson added that: “The Government is not aware of any cases of copyright holders having prosecuted individuals for format shifting music solely for their own personal use,” so most people should be safe...however...
What in the world are they thinking!?
Let's just run through a quick list of what this technically means is illegal:
- importing your music into iTunes, as Apple prompts you to do
- ripping CDs that include music you imported into iTunes or purchased there
- backing up your computer
- running your computer (as this technically makes a copy of system files)
- using any CDs you purchase to install programs (it makes a copy of them)
- playing any media -- most media playback devices work by making a copy of the media and playing that
Now, I don't think that they mean to "forbid" all of these things. But I do think that they have people who know absolutely nothing about how computers and other technology works attempting to write laws around them, and that seems incredibly ill advised.
Strange, but not surprising. I won't be surprised if the day comes when we are taxed per play of song, as well as for every time we hear a song in public, using apps on our phones to track and monitor this...