back to article Let us legally rip discs, campaigner tells govt

Consumer rights advocate Consumer Focus has called on the government to fix copyright laws broken by the rise of digital technology. CF's argument is that now the UK's population has amassed a sizeable collection of computers, iPods and phones, members of the public have been busily rippings CDs and DVDs in order to get …


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  1. seanj

    Not sure it's a good idea...

    Personally, I'd think twice before asking this bunch of incompetents to amend anything to do with copyright law, considering past form - they'd likely just amend the law to state that the Dark Lord, whether in government or not, can amend copyright law as he (or more accurately his "holiday sponsor" Dave Geffen) sees fit.

  2. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    Copying required to enjoy copyrighted works

    IANAL but I thought that the copyright laws basically said that anything that was a reproduction of the copyrighted works was a copy. So if you had an old fashioned gramaphone, the sound coming out of the big end of the trumpet is a (larger) copy of the sound that went in the other end.

    I thought that the copyright laws allowed for the "copying" that was required in order to use the works that you had legitimate access to. Why can't I use the same basis for taking the 1s and 0s off a circular polycarbonate disc and copying them into the electronics that then reproduces them as sound for my ears?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You thought?

      You thought wrong then.

      Copyright law in the UK does not allow for any copying except for some educational purposes, and even then there are tight constraints.

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    I guess the government's happy with things the way they are

    They certainly can't be seen to go soft when copyright legislation is being tightened up everywhere else in the western world.

    And the government might not want to punish people for doing something now, but they reserve the right to do so in the future...

  4. The Original Ash

    It is legal

    What, are they going to arrest and fine / imprison everybody with an iPod / Sansa Fuze / $PMP ?

    Rules are only meaningful if people agree to follow them. Otherwise, they're just words.

    1. Cameron Colley

      Hope you're not planning on travelling with your collection...

      Because the EU is having discussions about people like you who transport illegal and counterfeit copies of things to other countries -- smuggling isn't an offence to be taken lightly you know.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    3 iPods and you're OUT!

    So they want the iPods primary function made legal?

    Really, what kind of copyright law would make it illegal! You gotta wonder why fair use was never codified in UK/EU copyright law.

    Now we have ACTA making things worse and seemingly an EU Commission operating outside it's legal boundaries. If they're negotiating a copyright treaty when they should be negotiating a Counterfeit treaty, then it should include Fair Use as a legal right!

    Likewise we have a large part of the population acting outside the law by daring to rip their CDs to their iPod! Bringing the law into disrepute by it's stupidity. Did Mandleson have a meeting on a Yacht in Corfu with 60 MILLION Brits and suddenly decided Fair Use needed to be codified????


    But surely Mandy sees problems while drunk in expensive yachts and rushes to fix them?? Is widespread law breaking by most of the UK not a problem then? Something that needs urgently fixes?

    Fair use needs coded in Copyright Law, further protections aren't needed because the Copyright lobby does not use the legal redress it already has.

  6. SynnerCal

    Is it illegal?

    I guess that like most people I'm getting confused by the current 'fair use' (Berne Convention?) provision - so if the transfer (moving copyrighted content to a new medium) was for personal, i.e. non-shared, use then it was permitted.

    Personally I'd like to see a firming up of the (unofficial?) position that the BPI are apparently taking - namely that if you're ripping a bought CD to put on your iRiver, Creative Labs, (or even Apple), player solely then that's fine. We've also got to the position that BluRay disks (and some DVD's) now come with a "free" digital copy for putting on MP4 players. Finally, there seems to be a growth in the provision of DRM-free (yay!) digital download (Play, Amazon, et al). These are developments I find encouraging.

    To my own simple world view an improved law is quite easy to do - merely change it so that it's only illegal if the ripping activities denies a copyright holder some revenue. So ripping a CD or DVD (even if it's available via ITMS etc) that you own for your personal use is okay (you already have the source media, so in effect are licensed). On the other hand borrowing someone else's CD/DVD to rip, or sharing the rip is a no-no. The onus would also be shifted - so it's up to the BPI etc to prove that they're losing out. Many people have suggested this already - mainly because, to most normal people at least, it's common sense!

    A revised law would be a winning situation all round - the law is easier to understand (and apply); the community get to use _their_ purchases the way they want; copyright holders get a bit of (much needed) good PR; and it leaves them free to shift focus from prosecuting the folks taking a 'backup copy' of their latest album, to the major league pirates. Unfortunately, I suspect that big business will be busy whispering to the politico's to ensure that the status quo is maintained, perhaps with even large fines for 'offenders', (to their eyes this would be 'progress').

    I'm going to continue to rip _my_ CD's and _my_ DVD's to the various players I've got around (portable players, PC-based players, and my car CD player) - as I said above, the copyright holders aren't losing a sale, so where's the harm?

    1. Unus Radix

      Hmm ?

      >On the other hand borrowing someone else's CD/DVD to rip ... is a no-no

      Wouldn't this be easy to circumvent by

      1) buying someone else's media,

      2) ripping it, and

      3) selling it back to original owner for the same price it was bought for in step 1


      1. Dave Cheetham

        Common sense

        You no longer own the product so therefore you would be in breach of the license agreement and have to remove all copies. It would still be illegal.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    it's unlawful - so what?

    I couldn't care less. I rip and copy to multiple formats and players.

    If I've bought the bloody thing and it should be up to me what I listen to/watch it on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You are so banned from the net

      "I couldn't care less. I rip and copy to multiple formats and players."

      A confession!, under our new 3 strikes regimen, if elReg doesn't hand over your IP address, I can make them liable, and if your ISP doesn't ban you, they are liable too!

      Lets see elReg defend against a copyright violation you've confessed to!

      That's the uneasy truth of the situation, it may be a copyright violation and subject to all kinds of penalties, but if ever the BPI went after you in court, the court would find a way to codify fair use.

      However what if the penalty is a ban done by your ISP under their terms of service? Now we've shifted the uneasy balance of power in the favour of the person making the false copyright claim. (And claims against fair use are false, even if not legally codified).

  8. TRT

    Things can only get better

    Of course, a major political party would never even consider the unauthorised use of a piece of music during an election campaign...

  9. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!


    "But CF is right to say that this is a nonsensical state of affairs, and to suggest that what's needed is a rewrite of UK copyright law to extend the principle of fair use to personal copying."

    Isn't that what Mandelsson's trying to do at the moment? *ducks*

  10. s. pam Silver badge

    We need to get with the times or die

    So let's roll back about 30 years, shall we?

    Punter has vinyl turntable and an 8-track, reel-to-reel, cassette and a new album.

    Punter copies vinyl to tape for their mobile use, save r-t-r.

    Punter listens to tape in car, no worries and i recall no legal limitation -- fair use for personal copy.

    So everyone's happy, as long as last use-case not done. Money flows, all happy.

    Puter goes to mates' house, borrows vinyl to repeat = illegal.


    Now roll fwd 30 years, SW allows for a backup copy, on personal but not corp data, OK as in licenses. Music forbidden by idiots Ahem gov't types. Music co revenues drop - punters unhappy and come up with a better way.

    I believe that a lot of folks wouldn't rip were the old fair use laws brought back.

    Common sense, not in 99% of worlds' countries would illustrate this makes sense. 'Cept here!

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Legal action

    "but fair use provides a shield against legal action."

    You mean cival action.

    1. Paul 4


      Legal action... I think your getting the phrase confused with criminal prosecution... Both civil action and criminal prosecution are legal actions.

  12. david wilson

    Not really a new technology issue.

    Surely, it's not a case of 'who's going to grass?', but a case of 'who actually cares'?

    Music companies know pretty much everyone with an MP3 player is doing it, the same way they knew many (most?) people playing tapes in their cars and walkmans were playing tapes of LPs/CDs. As long as someone has bought something once, content owners are unlikely to really care, even if they might hope a few people will buy the same thing in numerous formats.

    It'd be a huge PR fail to try and prosecute someone for playing their own music on an MP3 player, just as it would be to go after someone for taping a CD, or copying a video they already own onto a DVD.

    If something is widespread, never acted against *and* seems fairly easy to defend morally without resort to dubious self-serving arguments, whether it gets officially classed as To Be Ignored now, later, or not at all doesn't seem particularly important.

  13. Oliver 7

    No, they're far too busy cooking up new laws

    Nothing ever gets repealed in this fascist state. That is why we have to fight tooth and nail to try and stop things like the Mandybill, the ID card scheme, the DNA database, etc, ad nauseum, before they ever see the light of day.

    Once something makes the statute books you're unlikely to ever see it struck, viz those fraudsters currently trying to hide behind parliamentary privilege as enacted in the 1689 Bill of Rights. There should be some kind of recurrent requirement to review legislation once it reaches a certain age.

    Mine's the one with the 60GB iPod in the pocket filled entirely with legally purchased music.

    1. Paul 4

      Bad idea...

      Thats the excuse they used to water down Habeas Corpus.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's new?

    Back in the day we had cassette players in our cars and the only way to listen to our record collection on the move was to record our vinyl onto cassettes. When the Walkman and it's many imitators came along there was even more incentive to do so. Of course the record industry expected us all to go out and buy everything on cassette, but what about all the vinyl we already had? Were we going to pay a fiver or more for cassette copies of the records we already owned? And then CDs came along, but it was years before most of us could afford an in car CD player. So everybody taped that copy of Brothers in Arms. (Ahem!) And if you bought something on cassette it was a good idea to make a backup copy anyway, because those things were pretty fragile when compared to vinyl or CD.

    Who remembers the record industry pressing for a copyright levy on blank cassettes. In those days they weren't so draconian, they didn't throw threats around like they do now and tried to present it as a good thing. The party line went that a "tax" on blank cassettes would make it legal for us all to record our record collections. It ignored the fact that a significant chunk of cassettes sold were never used to record copyright material.

    So this story is nothing new. Once upon a time we needed it to be legal to change the format of our music so we could listen to it on cassettes. Take that story, transplant it back in time thirty years and nothing's really changed at all, only the medium has changed. The law should have been changed, back when piracy wasn't a big problem (despite all the "home taping is killing music" labels). Now piracy is much too big an issue and the record industry will dig in their heels over any proposed relaxation of copyrigt law.

    So what if back in the eighties a new album came out and a few people labouriously taped it at home to hand out to a few friends. "If I give you a cassette will you tape it for me?" Was a commonly heard question. And of course after a few listens that album would be taped over with the latest release. The record industry did try to convince us that if the record buyer taped the album for two friends, and they each taped it for two friends and so on, then before we knew it there would be hundreds of illegal copies out there. Did you ever listen to a third generation cassette? Now the same person can rip a new CD and publish a torrent and thousands can be downloading it minutes after the Amazon package landed on the doormat.

    I'm sure the lobbyists would be quick to point out that my scenario differs from their proposal to allow "fair use", but the record industry will not see it that way. The way they see it an unlicensed media file is an unlicensed media file and and infringement of copyright. If fair use is allowed then that black and white differentiation becomes a lovely 18% grey - and their simple minds can't deal with it. The record industry carry a lot more clout so things will stay as they are.

    The record and movie industry want copyright infringement to be a crime, but that's an idiotic position no matter how you look at it. Implement that and all you do it make most of the population criminals over night.

  15. Dave 125

    Already provided for

    It's been a while since I last read the Copyright Act but I distinctly remember reading that the plaintiff has to be able to prove material loss if he wants to open a case against you. Not difficult if you make stuff available generally for download for free, but very difficult to prove if you just "media shift" your recordings.

  16. Neil Wilson

    Reduce Copyright length

    Copyright is supposed to be about ensure that novel stuff appears and is used. Therefore surely Copyright should only apply to really new stuff and that older stuff should lose its protection.

    Otherwise there will be an incentive to constantly rehash old stuff rather than concentrating on producing stuff that is new.

    No more than a decade after a creation or a couple of years after first commercial exploitation I would say.

    Then the whole argument becomes moot.

  17. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

    The grubberment and irony

    Ironically, the government waits for the European Union to formally define what the term 'non-commercial use' - how 'personal use' would be stated in law - actually means, however when the European Union tells the government not to keep DNA for innocent people they ignore it.


  18. Graham Marsden

    "this law is, to a great degree, unenforceable"

    What? A nonsensical and unenforceable law? Never...!

    What ever will they do next?

  19. blackworx


    Surely it would just make more sense to allow people to use ripped media in the same way as they're already licensed to use the original source material? e.g. If you've paid your PPL for public performance of licensed works (e.g. fitness instructors etc.) then you should be allowed to use ripped copies of the music you've paid for.

  20. zanto

    screw 'em

    hypothetically speaking, if i were to "rip" a cd, it's purely to ensure that should a catastrophe render the parasites data to be lost, i would still have a "copy" to share with the world.

    surely such noble ideals are not against the law?

  21. Dave Cheetham

    Common Sense

    The priority here is common sense and what is Just and Right!

    Taping something you have bought on vinyl, transferring something from CD you purchased to MP3 player use should be perfectly legal. You have paid for a right to use that music for your personal use. However, DOWNLOADING something from a torrent site and which you haven't paid for should be clearly illegal! Uploading something to a Torrent site for others to share is clearly in breach of the licensing agreement and should be illegal.

    There, law written. If everyone just abided by that principle, the music industry would be happy, genuine music lovers who purchase their music would be happy. FREETARDS wouldn't but then it is them the law is aimed at! Let them all rot in hell!

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