back to article UK.gov makes total pig's ear of attempt to legalise home CD ripping

The UK's inability to introduce a private copying copyright exception legally and fairly means home taping, ripping CDs and so on will remain technically illegal in the UK. The obstacle to sorting out British law in this regard is the government's insistence that it can fix the quirk without offering any sort of compensation …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fair use

    "The idea that compensation should accompany any format-shifting exception is based on the idea that the producer sells fewer copies"

    Only if you take is as granted that:

    (a) it is enshrined in law that the producer should be able to sell a copy of a work and *withhold* fair use rights from the consumer

    (b) the government is not entitled to change said law without compensating the people who end up (theoretically) worse off

    Taking point (a): If I buy a CD for use at home, perhaps the producer would prefer that I should not be allowed to play it in the car without paying extra?

    But if I *am* allowed to play it in the car, then why should I pay more to transfer it to a USB stick, if the car doesn't have a CD player?

    In any case, there's no way I'm buying two copies just to have one in the car, so the producer isn't losing anything.

    As for point (b): governments frequently change laws and taxes, and there are winners and losers. I don't see them compensating the losers very often.

    1. dogged

      Re: Fair use

      It's even simpler than that, AC.

      Have I bought the physical media or a license for the content? If it's the media, then I own it and I can make a backup because I'm protecting my investment. If it's a license then I have paid for that license and will listen to the content on any media I fucking well like.

      What it can't be is both. Because that's just UK Music insisting I buy a new CD every time one gets unplayable from use in the car and it's that kind of bullshit that leads people to torrent their content.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fair use

        "If it's a license then I have paid for that license and will listen to the content on any media I fucking well like."

        ^this - and my sentiments too.

      2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Re: Fair use

        I'm on my third purchased copy of some recordings. I bought them on vinyl, bought them on CD, my house burnt down so I bought some CDs again. Now I have to pay (tax, levy, licence whatever) to use them on the SD card in the car radio?

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re: Fair use

          "Do I have to pay?"

          No you don't.

          (That disposes of 80 per cent of complaints here)

          And nobody is obliged to give you or me free upgrades for life, every time a new format is devised. Nor is anyone obliged to buy a new format every time it comes out.

          (It's nice to get free upgrades, or have multiple licenses bundled like we have today, but none of this is a human bleedin' right.)

          (That disposes of the other 20 per cent of complaints).

    2. AndyS

      Re: Fair use

      To add to what you've said, quoting the article:

      "What will happen now remains to be seen"

      No, it doesn't. What will happen is exactly what has been happening for the last 15+ years. People will correctly continue to assume that, once they've bought something, they own it.

      "Content creators" be damned. If I need to "compensate" them for the fact that I don't need to buy 2 or 3 identical copies, then I first want to be "compensated" for the time I have to spend removing DRM, ripping, and organising my digital library.

      The only other model I would be happy with is a small levy, combined with complete decriminalisation of pirating. After all, if the assumption is that I'm going to copy stuff, and I have to compensate the people whose stuff I'm assumed to be copying, you can be sure I will do so.

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    4. Lallabalalla

      Re: Fair use

      If they compensated the losers they wouldn't be losers, you'd have winners and winners, and that would never do since it's the losers that pay for the winners to be winners.

      As you were.

  2. Andy 40

    The whole idea of format shifting is totally moot in the digital age. Should artists get compensated when I copy an mp3 from one part of my hard drive to another? What about from once hard disk to another in the same PC? What about from one hard drive to another hard drive on another PC, what about from a hard drive to an SSD? To a USB stick? To a memory card? To a CD? When you play an mp3 it gets copied from the hard disk to RAM, should I pay for this?

    The whole thing is nonsense, of course artists do not deserve any more when when we move bits about from one digital storage medium to another.

    The sooner artists start thinking of digital copies of their music as advertising for their talents rather than the product itself, the better.

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      The sooner artists start thinking of digital copies of their music as advertising for their talents rather than the product itself, the better.

      Performers apparently get about 13% of the selling price of CDs, so it's probably not a huge source of income for any but the biggest sellers.

      The record companies, on the other hand, take 30% of the gross selling price. I therefore suspect that the artists who want compensation aren't the performing artists, but the piss-artists and con-artists of the recording indistry.

      Source: BBC News

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Amazon

        Anyone know if Amazon are paying artists now you get the mp3 version of every CD you've ever bought? They appear to have decided that format shifting is fine.

        1. BoldMan

          Re: Amazon

          @AMBxx did you read the whole article? This was specifically mentioned as Amazon HAS come to an agreement witht he various rights organisations for that very reason.

          1. David Nash

            Re: Amazon

            "Anyone know if Amazon are paying artists now you get the mp3 version of every CD you've ever bought?"

            "@AMBxx did you read the whole article? This was specifically mentioned as Amazon HAS come to an agreement witht he various rights organisations for that very reason."

            @BoldMan

            Actually the original article mentioned Amazon in the reverse situation, ie. you buy an MP3:

            "Amazon MP3 purchased gives you unlimited copies for private use."

            Here we are talking about ripping from a CD you buy - which Amazon do for you with their "Autorip" service for many (albeit not all) CDs that you buy from them, including previous purchases.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "Performers apparently get about 13% of the selling price of CDs"

        They don't even get that much unless they're big name acts with special contracts.

        Don't forget that performers are also charged every single penny of producing, manufacturing and advertising that CD - plus interest - to be paid out of that 13%.

        This is why most recording artists (including the big names) end their careers in debt to the company store.

        You're perfectly correct that the levies are intended to be paid to the media companies to compensate for "lost sales", not the artists.

        Airtime royalties and other mechanical levies, are handled by a "society" which primarily exists to lubricate its own wheels. Again, unless you're a big name act the returns are minimal.

  3. Richard Wharram

    Navels of angels, existence of...

    Given the amount of effect this law currently has on behaviour...

  4. John Lilburne

    Cary Sherman of the RIAA said "We've have had no problem with people format shifting music that they've legally bought for many years now" and that was said about 5 years ago.

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    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      The RIAA is not the MCPS who are the equivalent body in the UK.

  5. Jay 2
    Meh

    "The idea that compensation should accompany any format-shifting exception is based on the idea that the producer sells fewer copies. Not that many fewer copies, but fewer all the same."

    In a perfect world where you either buy a CD and rip or just buy digital (and there is no piracy), this is bollocks. Yes, so OK we don't live in a perfect world. This reminds me of some countries that impose a levy on blank media, because it may be used to illegally copy stuff. But you could say, well if I'm having to pay extra to cover piracy then I've paid my debt to the big publishers and can download/share what I want. Obviously the fly in the ointment there is that we don't know if whoever collects the levy even gives it to the publishers, and even if they did how do you work out who gets what?

    1. John Lilburne

      I think you've missed the point. The complainants aren't the big corporations but the composers, songwriters, and the session musicians. IE its the little guys that are out of pocket. In general the big corporations are too concerned about a bit of copying (they'd like it not to happen but hey). The problems of copying mainly affects the small producer.

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      2. Fuzz

        RE: small producers

        I don't believe this can be the case. In the last month I've bought 3 CDs I don't think that any of the artists responsible for the music on those CDs isn't expecting me to rip those CDs so that I have a copy for my phone and my PC. The only CD player I own is in the car.

    2. Alan Mackenzie
      Headmaster

      "... you either buy a CD and rip or just buy digital ....".

      Sorry, but that is ignorant. CDs _are_ digital. Vinyl records and cassette tapes are analog.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Hmm,

        if the CD is marked AAD, then is it really digital? Yes the CD is a digital format but the content is analogue and therfore no better sounding than a record or cassette.

        And remember. Home taping is killing music?!?!!?

      2. soldinio
        Headmaster

        digital / analogue

        Not as ignorant as you think. A CD is physical not digital. The file thereon is digital.

        Pedantry requires accuracy.

        1. The First Dave Silver badge

          Re: digital / analogue

          As the title of your post appears to acknowledge, the opposite of digital is analogue; the opposite of physical is virtual, so your pedantry is somewhat flawed.

          1. soldinio

            Re: digital / analogue

            Consider a physical creation compared to a digital creation. The opposite is not necessarily analogue.

            Or

            Indeed a CD is analogue. If I heat it slowly, as it melts it can go through an infinite number of positions, thereby being analogue. If it moved through a finite number of stages between disc and puddle it would be digital.

            Also if it had fingers it would be digital. ☺

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    1. Lyndon Hills 1

      Re: Speaking of Land Grabs

      It's the same as asking me to pay for bank shareholders losses for a bank that I don't use.

      Which if you're a UK taxpayer, and don't bank with RBS, HSBC or Lloyds, is exactly what happened.

      1. PassingStrange

        Re: Speaking of Land Grabs

        "It's the same as asking me to pay for bank shareholders losses for a bank that I don't use."

        'Which if you're a UK taxpayer, and don't bank with RBS, HSBC or Lloyds, is exactly what happened.'

        Except that you DO use them. They finance the levy that guarantees that, if it's YOUR bank that goes tits up, you don't lose every penny you had in it.

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    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The solution:

      It doesn't exist. It's a fantasy proffered as an excuse.

      "Who's running this country, anyway?"

      The RIAA

      This whole fiasco is a sham. A disinformation campaign being waged by our politicians and their pimps against the public. Are we supposed to believe that they'd be giving themselves this much trouble if they were starting an illegal war to drum up a "terrorist threat" or rushing in "emergency" anti-terror legislation to take away what little we have left in the way of "rights"?

      Twats.

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      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: The solution:

        Thin wedge, beginning of; or the first bullet in a hail of them?

  8. Alien8n Silver badge

    The problem with format shifting...

    The problem with format shifting being illegal is that it's unenforceable. To enforce the law as it stands would be to make criminals of the majority of the population. Ironically back in the 90's the record companies weren't even that bothered if Guns and Roses' release of Use Your Illusion is taken as an example. The record stores actively promoted copying of the album by selling blank tapes alongside the CDs. The idea being you'd by one CD and your mate would buy the other and make copies of each others CD. As for a levy, that was never meant to make up the cost of "lost sales" due to format shifting. That's a false idea anyway, if you're format shifting for personal use there is no lost sale, you've already bought the music. The whole idea of the levy was to cover the costs of "stolen" music, which is an intangible figure plucked out of the air by the music industry. Chances are even if you couldn't download it for free the music industry's sales would still have declined, because a lot of what is downloaded is music that the downloaders would simply have not bought in the first place. And the other argument against the levy is the simple fact it penalises the wrong people. It was argued that the levy should be placed on writable CDs and DVDs, which means the IT industry. I don't know about anyone else but I wouldn't be best pleased if my backup discs for Linux and files were paying for the neighbour's kids downloaded Eminem mp3s.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The problem with format shifting...

      Please cite.. Otherwise its a bollocks internet folklore.

      "back in the 90's the record companies weren't even that bothered if Guns and Roses' release of Use Your Illusion is taken as an example. The record stores actively promoted copying of the album by selling blank tapes alongside the CDs. The idea being you'd by one CD and your mate would buy the other and make copies of each others CD. "

      1. Alien8n Silver badge

        Re: The problem with format shifting...

        Actually that was from Kerrang, regarding the release of the double CD at HMV on Oxford Street in London. Guns and Roses turned up with a tank to promote the album. As for why I was reading that article, that might be the fact that I went out and bought the album for myself. May still have the magazine at home in a box in the loft...

  9. Christopher Reeve's Horse
    FAIL

    So...

    I should immediately delete my entire archive of ripped CD's and DVD's from my NAS?

    HAAAAAHHAHHHAAHHHAHHAHAHAHAHA!!

    But seriously. No.

    Also, what if I stream my own content to myself, is that a violation too?

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: So...

      No, but if you used iTunes and then moved them to the NAS or bunged them on your iPhone you're a naughty boy.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So...

        really?, so who is to blame if Apples Time Machine faithfully backs up my Itunes library onto my nas/harddisk/icloud?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So...

        And if you use TimeMachine as a backup to a NAS, who is at fault, Apple or the user?

  10. BobChip
    WTF?

    Stuck in the past...

    1 HMG (dinosaur No. 1) makes a mess of legislation concerning what is now essentially an IT/technology related problem. No surprises here then.

    2 The music industry (dinosaur No. 2) has a sales and marketing model largely unchanged from the days of vinyl, and appears unable to realise that the outside world has left them far behind. In spite of the arrival - and departure - of the tape recorder, they still have not grasped the need to change. Since tape, copying has always been easy and is most likely to remain so.

    3 Innovative groups and artists (today's velociraptors?) are now publishing their own material directly, bypassing the "traditional" channels. This recognises the reality of copying and accounts for it from the get go. And is bad news for big music.

    I suspect that by the time/if the two dinosaurs actually do reach agreement (geological time, perhaps?), the copyright question will probably have ceased to be relevant, and everyone else will have simply moved on.

  11. Sykobee

    Maybe the music industry would like to clarify (and decide) whether music bought on physical media is licensed (for life) or not. Because if it is, then once the license is owned, no further recompense should be needed to the music companies for allowing format shifting, etc.

    Let's be honest here, the music companies had their fingers in all the pies, and are butthurt that they've been told to slim down and choose a single pie.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      I don't think they particularly care, it's unenforceable. What they want is the money from a new tax on recordable media and digital players.

      1. Alien8n Silver badge

        FTFY

        "I don't think they particularly care, it's unenforceable. What they want is the money from a new tax on recordable media and digital players without having to deal with content creators who expect to be paid for their work"

        There you go...

  12. Cuddles Silver badge

    Compensation for what?

    I'm really not sure I see the problem here. If I buy a CD (do people actually still do that?), I pay the people who made it. If I then copy it to my phone so I can listen to it in a more convenient manner, the people who made the CD have done nothing whatsoever extra and can fuck right off if they want any more money. So why the fuck should there be any compensation involved at any point in this law? You get paid for the product you actually sell to me, and that's it. For all the flaws the government might have this is one thing they've got absolutely correct, and the courts can find somewhere convenient to stick it if they think they can either stop me copying things that I own or charge me for the privilege of doing so.

    1. thomas k

      Re: do people actually still do that?

      Some of us do, yes. I'm eagerly awaiting delivery of my 9th and 10th Ring cycles (Goodall and Karajan); only 1 of those 10 was a digital download.

      1. Hollerith 1

        Re: do people actually still do that?

        Karajan's Ring cycles? Are you sure ytou want that?

        But yes, I get the CD when I can, so I can makelovely, lovely .flacs from the tracks. I don't want my Bach on .mp3.

    2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Compensation for what?

      If I buy a CD (do people actually still do that?)

      Yes. The CD is a useful archive copy. It's likely to stay around for much longer than most of the phones, computers, cars, USB sticks etc that I may copy the content to.

      Also, availability of good quality downloads is variable. I'm certainly not going to pay money for over-compressed MP3 crap, even if that's what I listen to on portable devices.

    3. Lyndon Hills 1

      Re: Compensation for what?

      I think this is quite subtle.

      1) The music biz never cared about copying (unless on an industrial scale, a copy for a mate is ok) They still don't.

      2) Laws which are widely ignored and pretty much unenforceable (as in this case) are not good and so the government wishes to tidy this up.

      3) The attempted solution was effectively the same as the case of photographers right to their work, which the government attempted to co-opt.

      4) Effectively the government was trying to deprive the 'music biz' of a legal right, that has value, without paying compensation.

      5) Unsurprisingly the 'music biz' is unhappy about this.

      Love or hate the music biz, I doubt many people would be in favour of a government that confiscates it's companies or citizens property or rights without compensation.

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: Compensation for what?

        Thanks. You got the point.

        The Government on the advice of an activist copyfighting IPO tried to argue black is white, got walloped, and it cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds.

        If commentards had to pay a few hundred thousands of pounds for every barmy assertion, I think it would concentrate minds wonderfully.

        1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          Re: Compensation for what?

          If commentards had to pay a few hundred thousands of pounds for every barmy assertion, I think it would concentrate minds wonderfully.

          Saucer of milk for Mr Orlowski, please.

    4. keithpeter
      Coat

      Re: Compensation for what?

      "...buy a CD (do people actually still do that?)"

      That would be me.

      Usually 'classical' music. Sitting at home not on shonky earbuds on buses.

      If format shifting were to become legal I might be bothered to rip each CD as a single track and use an old laptop with a USB audio interface into the stereo. Would it be worth the time it took me to do the ripping, tag correcting, and the cost of the hard drive space that would be needed for backups? Perhaps in return for search-ability and building a concert programme (aka 'playlist').

    5. D@v3

      Re: Compensation for what?

      While I don't agree with any of this nonsense, and do in fact agree with you, I can see it from the following point of view....

      If you have brought a CD, you have purchased a copy of that music to listen to on that CD. If you wanted to listen to it in a more convenient manner, then maybe you should have brought it in a more convenient format, for example a digital download. If you want to listen to the CD and listen to it in a more convenient manner, then pay for both.

      As I said, I don't necessarily agree with this, but I can see the point.

      Personally I take the approach as mentioned by someone else. I buy a CD so that I have an archive version of the music that I listen to, so that *when* something happens to my digital version, I can recover it, without having to rely on which ever shop I purchased it from still being around to let me download another copy.

    6. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Compensation for what?

      [i]If I buy a CD (do people actually still do that?)[/i]

      I buy CDs to ensure that I have a legitimate source from which my rips come. I believe that's an important differentiator between "format shifting" and "piracy".

    7. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Compensation for what?

      I buy CDs, DVD-A, SACD for music

      I buy DVD and BD for films.

      I don't buy mp3s as I want the solid copy.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Makes my blood boil

    There should be a point of fairness in law, but this is taking it to absurdity

    "The idea that compensation should accompany any format-shifting exception is based on the idea that the producer sells fewer copies. Not that many fewer copies, but fewer all the same."

    So the government should pay the producer because I'm not I'm not being double-dipped for the content I've already purchased,

    If I own a shop and don't sell more eggs as some people have let them grow into laying Hens can I also expect compensation?

    How, in Gods name, does this stuff become law?

    1. WonkoTheSane
      Trollface

      Re: Makes my blood boil

      "How, in Gods name, does this stuff become law?"

      Manila envelopes. Nice, fat manila envelopes...

    2. Gordon 11

      Re: Makes my blood boil

      If I own a shop and don't sell more eggs as some people have let them grow into laying Hens can I also expect compensation?
      If you'd made it a condition of the purchase that the eggs not be allowed to grow into chickens then yes.

      The issue here is that it is a condition of the purchase of CD content that it not be copied (same was/is true of vinyl). It's written on the disc.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Makes my blood boil

        "If I own a shop and don't sell more eggs as some people have let them grow into laying Hens can I also expect compensation?"

        No, only if your customers try to format shift the eggs into fried eggs, as you could then demonstrate a loss on your direct fried egg sales.

      2. Dan Paul

        Re: Makes my blood boil

        You can't put conditions on the nature of animals after their sale, you would have to sterilize the eggs before you sold them.

        You can't put further conditions on the status of ownership of a product after the sale, you already encumbered it with DRM before you sold it.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Makes my blood boil

        "The issue here is that it is a condition of the purchase of CD content that it not be copied (same was/is true of vinyl). It's written on the disc."

        Then you're talking about contract law, not copyright law?

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Makes my blood boil

          "Then you're talking about contract law, not copyright law?"

          Correct - and the unfair terms in contracts act might have some bearing on it.

    3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: Makes my blood boil

      "

      If I own a shop and don't sell more eggs as some people have let them grow into laying Hens can I also expect compensation?

      "

      In some circumstances you could.

      There has not been such a case regarding hens' eggs, but if you sell GM maize seeds and some farmers use the seeds obtained from one crop to plant another crop, then the answer is yes, you could sue those farmers and receive compensation for the loss of sale for the seeds they should have bought from you rather than growing their own. There have been several such cases in the US and AFAIAA the law is the same in the UK. Believe it or not, growing your own GM seeds could be made out to be copyright infringement, because (man-made) genetic modifications can be patented and making duplicates outside the terms of the licence given to you by the patent holder is IP infringement even though the DNA was duplicated by natural biological processes (the licence will allow the farmer to grow seeds as food, but not to grow seeds for the purpose of germinating them). So if the eggs in question came from hens that you had *genetically modified*, then yes, allowing the eggs to hatch to produce egg-laying GM hens would amount to rights infringement and you could sue and have a winnable case, though you would have to have given adequate notice to your customers that the eggs they bought may not be permitted to hatch.

  14. Anomalous Cowturd
    Holmes

    Has anybody ever been convicted of format shifting?

    Pointless law is pointless.

    1. AndyS

      Re: Has anybody ever been convicted of format shifting?

      That is presumably why the government, having spent pocket money (despite Orlowski's insistance, a couple of hundred thousand is pennies on the scale of a country the size of ours) with a weak argument to try and see if they could sort out the problem, have shrugged their shoulders and walked away.

      After all, if the record industry want to play silly buggers, the government doesn't need to let them. Just ignore them. As you point out, it's not like anything really needs to change.

      1. Tim Brown 1
        Pint

        Re: Has anybody ever been convicted of format shifting?

        Except laywers Sue, Grabbitt and Run and their ilk may well see an opportunity to send out blackmail letters to the populace.

        You know the type of thing "we are giving you this opportunity to avoid legal action by our clients (the greedy music industry) by paying a fee now of 100/200/500/1000 pounds..."

      2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: Has anybody ever been convicted of format shifting?

        Congratulations for spectacularly missing the point.

        The Government acted illegally and got its bum kicked. It spent a lot of money doing so, having been told that this is exactly what would happen. And now we in the UK don't have a format shifting exception again.

        You applaud this incompetence, for which people would be fired in the private sector, because of your prejudices (ie, blind hatred) align with the Government's.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Has anybody ever been convicted of format shifting?

      "Has anybody ever been convicted of format shifting? "

      That was exactly my thought upon reading "home taping, ripping CDs and so on will remain technically illegal in the UK."

      ...illegal? No it isn't. Where's the precedent?

      I suppose the author meant "illegal" in a civil naughtyness sort of way rather than criminal?

      Can't help wondering if this nonsense could be brought to an end by someone wandering into a police station, plonking a music player full of flacs onto the desk and saying something along the lines of "I've filled this wit music I ripped from CDs I've bought. The CDs don't fit so I ripped them then destroyed them. These are my only copies. I've been told doing this was illegal so I'm turning myself in. I demand to be prosecuted." I imagine not. I imagine you'd be told that it's a civil matter and not to be so daft. I also imagine that doing the same at the office of your local friendly copyright cartel would solicit a similar response: They'd be violently adverse to prosecuting a case they couldn't hope to win... so, I suspect that "technically illegal in the UK" really means "not actually illegal at all, except inside a few (sick) imaginations"

      Any lawyers about and care to comment?

      1. Ian 55

        Re: Has anybody ever been convicted of format shifting?

        It'd certainly be a brave music industry lawyer who wanted a case to go in front of a jury, but with the maximum penalties for 'piracy' being so high - thank you music industry - then it would clearly be too serious a case for magistrate's court.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: Has anybody ever been convicted of format shifting?

          Many people are unaware of the difference between civil law and criminal law. Different courts, different laws and different penalties. If you lose a civil case you will be required to pay money to whoever was harmed (financially or otherwise) by your act, but this is not a punishment, it is compensation. The police are not involved - a civil case will be initiated by the allegedly wronged party (or sometimes a body acting to protect that party). Losing a civil case is not a conviction and you will not have a criminal record. If you break a criminal law then it is the police who will charge you and the state that will prosecute you, and if found guilty you will be punished for your transgression regardless whether you caused anyone the slightest harm or inconvenience. Most lawyers by convention refer to the breaking of a civil law as being an *unlawful* act, and breaking the criminal law as being an *illegal* act.

          Copyright infringement is only a criminal act if you do it for profit - e.g. making lots of copies and selling them at car boot sales, or relabeling cheap booze as an expensive brand and re-selling etc.

          1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

            Re: Has anybody ever been convicted of format shifting?

            Unfortuantely and largely started by the previous bunch of lizards (who to a large degree were either lawyers or closely linked to them) a huge number of what were previously civil offences were changed to become criminal offences. Great for lawyers and marketing-statistician-liars, not so great for everybody else including the police who then got lumbered with a lot of extra, usually petty (jn the schems of things) and quite often unenforceable offences to deal with.

            1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

              Re: Re: Has anybody ever been convicted of format shifting?

              Are you kidding? The police love it when loads of tiny and pointless criminal offences come onto the books, it makes meeting arrest targets and securing senior officers' pensions so much easier.

              Why put time and effort into catching FGM merchants when you can arrest people for writing words on the internet...

    3. Fink-Nottle

      Re: Has anybody ever been convicted of format shifting?

      So ... the courts have now overturned government legislation that made format shifting legal.

      Does that mean that anyone who took advantage of regulations to rip their own CDs might now run the risk of prosecution? Or, conversely, if one was nabbed for format shifting could one argue that the format shift took place during a period where it was legal to do so?

  15. John Robson Silver badge

    Surely

    The Gubbinment can provide a fund totalling one pund per annum.

    The music companies can then go to court to argue over how it gets split....

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Surely

      The government could also, in an entirely unconnected measure, introduce a levy on the receipts from collecting societies. After all, we're all in this together...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surely

      > The Gubbinment can provide a fund totalling one pund per annum.

      I have a better idea.

      Let the recording industry have the levy on blank compact cassettes that it has been asking for all these years.

  16. JakeMS
    Pirate

    No No No!

    Any law change which would benefit the people simply cannot be allowed!

    Besides, regardless of the silly law I'm still going to rip my own CDs whether they like it or not... and yes, I will copy it to my phone, and yes I will copy it to my laptop as well as my desktop.

    They'll never know anyway!

    1. Eponymous Cowherd
      Pirate

      Re: No No No!

      Until Big Media decided to make an issue over this, there was clear blue water between the practice of buying a CD and ripping it for my own use, and grabbing it from a torrent.

      One was legal, the other wasn't.

      Now, if you rip your bought-and-paid-for CD, you are crook. If you grab a torrent, you are a crook.

      So you may as well grab the torrent and save yourself some money as you are a crook whatever you do.

  17. Doctor_Wibble
    Devil

    On the spot fines, trial run on trains!

    You know it makes sense - possession of an mp3 player or similar is evidence of the heinous crime of format shifting, the criminal can provide proof to the contrary afterwards with their claim for a fine refund.

    This means that we will all be entirely permitted to make citizen's arrests, i.e. pounce on any of those obnoxious gits on the train whose music is so loud you can hear it through their earplugs (if they are na na naa-ing then also 'incitement') and if they are pre-emptively resisting (they say bopping to the music, a likely story) we can use force to restrain them. I really don't see the problem here if it's all drafted properly.

    There will also need to be some littering exemptions for when we throw them out of the window.

    1. Infernoz Bronze badge

      Re: On the spot fines, trial run on trains!

      I think you will find that most of those "mp3 players" are mobile phones and many of those can play proper quality flac files now...

      If people play audio on device speakers or on cheap and nasty, leaking, open earphone/phones, with no regard for people around them, then they are just being anti-social, rude morons causing a "public disturbance". Quite frankly there should be retail product rules that forbid the selling of portable headphones or earphones which noticeable leak audio, and that includes headphones or earphones bundled with equipment like phones, tablets etc.!

      1. Doctor_Wibble

        Re: On the spot fines, trial run on trains!

        > cheap and nasty, leaking, open earphone/phones

        It's worth pointing out that from what I've seen, the worst offenders appear to be the white earphones - yes the ones on the expensive fruitily-branded devices so at risk of needing asbestos undies, it seems that either the earphones are actually cheap tat or a significant number of the owners of said devices would be better off investing in hearing aids.

        That, or people are buying cheap tat imitations to fool the rest of us, a bit like those carefully-preserved Harrods bags we all have in our cupboards for those special occasions...

      2. DanDanDan

        Re: On the spot fines, trial run on trains!

        Open ear headphones generally sound better and have better soundstaging. The cheap s***e sold by Apple doesn't live up to this, but that's no reason to ban good headphones just because some people are arseholes!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    10 years in prison

    This is has been timed very well given there is a consultation going on that would send pirates to prison for 10 years! Almost like someone is pulling the strings in the background.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  19. Amorous Cowherder
    Facepalm

    What about downloads you get with paid physical products?

    A lot of companies, such as Amazon and quite a few indy producers, offer digital download with a paid copy of a product. How does that fit into this? What am I allowed to do ( within reason! ) with the digital copy? Am I allowed to put it on a USB for my car AND my phone AND my laptop, or am I just allowed to play it just off the PC it was downloaded to?

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: What about downloads you get with paid physical products?

      You are a very naughty boy! (pun intended)

      Copying it to your car, phone and laptop!

      That is three strikes you know.

      In some parts of the world that means a 'life' term without parole.

    2. TheProf Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: What about downloads you get with paid physical products?

      To make things even more complicated: I've bought physical CDs from Amazon for friends who don't have MP3 players. Am I entitled to keep the Autorip MP3?

  20. Douchus McBagg

    I like my idea of "Cliff's Law" of copy protection. Crap music doesn't get copied. Same for ABBA. Plus for movies, anything with Julia Roberts in it....

    i'm sure we can all apply our own "Cliff's Law" to our collections...

  21. cmannett85

    When I play a FLAC it's "format shifted" into an uncompressed stream - does this mean playback of all compressed digital formats is now illegal?

  22. James Anderson Silver badge

    whatever happened to

    The sovereignty of parliament? UKIP may be a party onanists but they do have a point when it comes to who gets to rule the country. Do our elected representatives really need the approval of a bewigged septagenarian's interpretation of a document produced by a foreign bureaucrat before they can pass a law?

    Come back Oliver Cromwell, all is forgiven (free wart removal on the NHS if you wait long enough ).

    1. Hollerith 1

      Re: whatever happened to

      Parliament might pass better laws if it did seek approval from Johnny Foreigner in Europe,. At least over this. As it is, they are neither the capitalist's friend nor the socialist's, but merely the bureaucrat's.

  23. Timmy B Silver badge

    How about....

    I go and buy a car and in the Top Gear style turn it into a boat and sail the seven seas. Do I have to pay compensation to the ship-building industry or to the car makers? No. That would be silly...... Though I wonder if applying logic to the law is akin to putting shoes on a snake....

    1. Hellcat

      Re: How about....

      You wouldn't steal sail a car...

    2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: How about....

      "

      I go and buy a car and in the Top Gear style turn it into a boat and sail the seven seas. Do I have to pay compensation to the ship-building industry or to the car makers?

      "

      If you copied someone else's design when you turned it into a boat, then yes, you could be sued and made to pay compensation. Note that there is no general copyright in boats and cars just as there is no general copyright in music, but there is usually copyright in a *particular design* of boat or car just as there is in *particular" tracks of music.

  24. Nikki Radir

    I'm not stopping now

    Thanks for the points made here.

    Because of my love for music I've spent 10s of thousands on concert tickets and recordings over the past 40+ years: not unusual, I’d guess. Have any of the parties to this case (whatever the legal arguments might be) considered what response there might be from devoted music fans?

    Once again, sections of the music industry attempt to punish those who contribute most to their profits, their incomes, by extracting more revenue from them for recordings for which they have already paid. Meanwhile, it will make no difference at all to those who rely on pirated copies, of whatever kind.

    I understand how difficult it is for all but the most famous artists to make a decent amount. However, I draw the line right here. I bought this stuff and I will do with it what I want, short of selling it on or giving away copies. Right now I'm part way through ripping my collection to hard disk. I'm not stopping now, regardless of the change in the law.

    To the organisations representing artists, I say: focus on getting a fair deal from the media companies and establishing a better distribution model for the digital age, one that rewards both performers and loyal fans. To the larger, more aggressive media companies (you know who you are), I say: your greed and lack of scruples disgust me. I love music despite your best efforts to turn it into a debased commodity. You need bringing in line, not for courts and governments to pander to your demands.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: I'm not stopping now

      "Once again, sections of the music industry attempt to punish those who contribute most to their profits, their incomes, by extracting more revenue from them for recordings for which they have already paid."

      [citation needed]

      "Right now I'm part way through ripping my collection to hard disk. I'm not stopping now, regardless of the change in the law."

      Of course, nobody will.

      If you want the EU to repeal that part of the InfoSoc Directive that the principle of uncompensated copying is fine, please go ahead.

      1. Nikki Radir

        Re: Re: I'm not stopping now

        Andrew, I don't understand your reply (but thanks for the article, it certainly helped me better understand the issues).

        "[citation needed]"

        Doesn't your article and other current material about this court case, and the underlying issues, make this plain? Music industry bodies brought this action to prevent 'uncompensated copying' - in other words, and unfortunately as per the EU directive, they want payment for the copies that people make of material that they have already paid for. Besides, this is an online comment, not a dissertation!

        "If you want the EU to repeal that part of the InfoSoc Directive that the principle of uncompensated copying is fine, please go ahead."

        I thought the directive only allowed member states to legislate that copying was permitted, but only if there _was_ compensation to the rights holder(s) for that copying? Perhaps "so that the principle..."?

        Do you mean though, that if I object to the particular item under Article 5(2), then by all means exercise what pitifully small influence I might be able to exert, to get it repealed? Well, like the majority of people commenting here and elsewhere (from what I can see - please don't ask me for a detailed analysis), I object to the very idea of charges for format-shifting and backups. Perhaps there are enough people paying attention to this, to start pushing for a sane outcome.

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re: Re: I'm not stopping now

          "Well, like the majority of people commenting here and elsewhere (from what I can see - please don't ask me for a detailed analysis), I object to the very idea of charges for format-shifting and backups."

          I'm glad you mentioned that. That's a fair enough gripe, so would I. But there aren't going to be any charges for format-shifting or backups. 100 per cent of commentards who think there are wrong. Not even slightly wrong - completely wrong. The Government said there isn't going to be a levy and the industry hasn't asked. There was a small compensation fund mooted a few years ago, of a few million quid.

          Do you think you or other commenters will start a campaign to stop such a fund being created? To stop British musicians being compensated just as European musicians are compensated? I am genuinely curious. If so, do you think this would be a popular campaign with the general, non-freetard public?

          "STOP BRITISH MUSICIANS GETTING PAID" doesn't really sound like a winner to me. But maybe I'm wrong.

          So. If commentards are angry about something that isn't going to happen (it was quite explicitly ruled out in Parliament, there hasn't been one call from any UK trade group requesting a media levy, most have also ruled this out)... then aren't we looking at some other phenomenon in these comments.

          Something like a collective hallucination, or a persecution-induced or anger-induced psychosis?

          1. Nikki Radir

            Re: I'm not stopping now

            Thanks for responding, Andrew. I didn't expect to come back and find anything further, this late on.

            Your comment does clarify things for me - e.g. "there hasn't been one call from any UK trade group requesting a media levy". I had thought (automatically discounting any assurance from Govt that a levy would not be imposed) that it was entirely possible that the UK would go down this route, as others have done. Not any hallucination, then, just a cynical (and now, obviously under-informed) assumption about possible future developments. Most EU countries do impose a levy of some sort.

            I have absolutely no desire either to "stop British musicians being compensated", but a token fund, established to cover the InfoSoc Directive provision, won't do much to help. I stand by my assertion that the majority of recording musicians have much more cause to complain about their treatment by the big media companies, than they do about the behaviour of people buying music.

            There are many issues surrounding recorded music (and other art forms) created or highlighted by progress in computing and communications technology, that are far from being resolved. Nothing I've read about this case seems to move us towards a healthier situation, but at least it's helping keep discussion going.

  25. adam payne Silver badge

    I legally purchased the CD so I will do with it as I please. As long as it's for my private usage and not shared around my friends and the internet I don't see the problem.

  26. Hans Blick

    problem of usage license rather than format

    So the artist creates the music but as theyre piss poor broke they rely on an advance from a music company to get them advertising and pay for their living, in which case the music industry takes quite a large slice of the pie. The music company is funded by shareholders who all want a share of the profit as that's why they put the money in the business in the first place. Once the music is created, the format for the master is cut and that becomes the golden source. The music company has to recoup their costs and sell the product. Ideally, they would like to sell the same thing multiple times to the same person to maximize the revenue and potentially have a big slush fund. The problem is the format and security on the format is "easily" (with the right tools) intercepted and converted into something else. As the internet is essentially the Wild West, jurisdiction of it is impossible and ends up at a country's/unions "borders".

    If the music company could lock down the format to be only played by one device they would, this has probably been tried and failed in the past - essentially the People (or the Plebs if your a Roman (pleb being a free citizen of plebian status rather than slave and so had rights)) do not like to be told what they can do with something that they have bought the rights to listen to/watch/use and so will convert/subvert it to their own use.

    The government owns a duty of care to its people but also to the companies that may/may not pay Tax to them (depending on how good their accountants are). The theory is that the goods sold have a level of taxation that is collected by the Revenue Office and are for the good of the social aspect of the country. The reality is that the tax collected may find its way back to the pocket of the music company due to a variety of schemes that are employed to minimize the tax profile of a company (for the benefit of the shareholders).

    So the problem ends up that the music company believes that they are being ripped off on their products and hence needs the government to intervene so that in the long run, their theory is that they can pay more Tax and so help the country. The reality is that the Plebs don't like to pay twice for the same thing and so will "challenge" any formats that limit their ability to enjoy their goods/services. The music company calls this piracy and every person who is involved in it is helping fund terrorism/etc whereas in reality, probably 99.9% of the Plebs listen to it for 3 months and then move on to something else. Even with a ripped CD, theres probably about 30% of music worth listening to and the other 70% is listened to once and then skipped - or it never makes the favorite playlist.

    Streaming companies have stepped into the gap so that the Plebs can listen to their favorite music, endure a few ads as they dont want to pay for it, and if they really do they can purchase a digital format that can be centralized and shared among their many devices.

    The music company revenue model accounts for sales and not for other digital services that they could make revenue from - hence their drop in traditional markets and the perceived lower total revenue sales in digital than what they believe they are due (if a traditional model was applied). The Plebs are loyal to the Artist and not the music company as they are perceived as not having a value add and being greedy in terms of the slice of the pie they believe they are entitled to.

    So... to cut to the chase, if the music company had actually marketed itself to its customers rather than just the artist, they may actually have some support from the Plebs. As they are seen as trying to stifle the market and introduce barriers/limits to entry to the music industry, transactions/sales, and overall crying "Wolf" with a "poor me" attitude, the Plebs have moved on and don't give a flying monkeys about them - they love their Spotify/[insert streaming music supplier here]/etc as that's whats being marketed to them.

    So how does a company get loyalty from their customers... they should probably go talk to Apple marketing, take notes and not indulge in the after meeting drinks.

    Now..wheres my vodka...

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Copyright infringement is a political action too

    I used to buy loads of /copies/ of media on physical stuff, which is now mostly my NAS (frack the legal), but I got so fed up being ripped off for ridiculously high prices and refuse to tolerate poorer quality lossy formats; I rarely buy media now so as to withhold funding this Psychopathic Corporate (fiction) greed and absurd state (fiction) backed privilege rent seeking for mere intangibles which are stored on /my real property/, which I'll do with as I see fit!

    The ridiculously sickening thing for me is that digital delivered product can be poorer quality, worse value, less secure and more expensive than buying a copy in physical stuff, seriously WTF; the most obvious case is ebooks!

  28. Ru'

    The business landscape has changed, the increasing spend on games and other media has (probably, zero facts to back this up apart form gut feel tbh) reduced the amount spent on music.

    They need to suck it up rather than trying to use laws to bolster their fading model.

    Be good if we could launch something like a US class-action to take them to task for selling us the same thing again and again on differing formats, for padding albums with filler, for all the disgusting formulaic rubbish (ooops, showing my age), for root kits, etc. etc.

    Artists will still want to create music regardless of whether they get paid by the big labels; we are in no danger of losing music here.

    Home taping never killed music despite what we were told. Sick of it!

    (rage quit)

  29. MJI Silver badge

    Why levies will not work.

    I am glad that idea has been dropped as I see no reason why my backups should pay for some randon band. Why my holiday videos (on DVD or now BluRay) should funda random film.

    And so on.

    It could be terrible, I could end up funding Wand Erection or silent C as in Rap.

    Or bad fan fiction films of Twilight.

  30. Nifty Bronze badge

    The technology of creating millions of copies from a master tape to sell as products was invented last century. For a short heyday for artists and more so for the publishers, they could make cheap and sell dear. Some got very rich very fast. Then the very same technology - to be able to make cheap copies - came into the private user domain. What those publishers want to preserve is that short lived heyday of getting rich fast, forever.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fair use...

    ...does not include multiple copies or distribution. One back-up copy is fine and only one copy may be used at any given time. That eliminates the issue of copies. Reimburse artists/copyright holders appropriately (tacked on to original purchase price) and there is nothing to argue about. The new mandatory minimum 10 years in prison plus hefty fines for pirates fits quite well with the minor revisions required for a back-up copy.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Fair use...

      Hi, AC - wondered where you were. I was nearly tricked by the lack of the use "perp", but your bosses at the PRS/MPA/BPI must have told you to stop using such a fatuous word. They haven't stopped you using a fatuous argument, though. Quite simply, if I have bought it, it is mine. Alternatively, if I have a licence to listen to it, I can listen to it how I want. Most people in this country believe that to be the case, and would be appalled to hear your argument. Law should reflect the views of the people, not the views of industry (I know - naive, huh?), and so you are on a hiding to nothing. Get your bosses to accept that the world has changed, they no longer call the shots, and it is time to look at their business models to reflect reality.

      Oh, and IAAL (academic).

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Priced in

    given how long format shifting has been going on I thought the argument that the record companies had priced in the impact seemed pretty reasonable. In the same way shops assume they will have a certain amount of stock leakage.

    As it's not a new problem then any company that hadn't factored it in to their pricing model isn't doing a good job, which is their problem not the govt.s

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Personally, I think a levy on format shifting is bollocks. Either make it legal to do it, or leave it up to the vendor to define the contract. Government should have not wasted money avoiding the EU law, and left the existing law on the books and amended it to say "But, you know, we don't really care if you do, because we actually don't believe there's really any significant harm done. But, no, that does not mean you can buy an old, damaged CD from a car boot and then download a copy off the Internet because you've "bought it already". And no, it doesn't mean you can take a copy from a friend because you might buy it later. And no, of course it doesn't mean you can copy it off a stream. You bloody know what we mean. No excuses about evil corporations or buts and buy-it-later."

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      But, no, that does not mean you can buy an old, damaged CD from a car boot and then download a copy off the Internet because you've "bought it already".

      Why not? They keep banging on about the fact you are paying for a personal license for the media. However damaged that old CD is, originally the same full price was paid for it.

  34. Major N

    Next there will be a levy on flour in case you format shift it into cake.

    1. Fink-Nottle

      I thought it was government policy to let them eat cake.

  35. RISC OS

    CDs???

    Who uses them? Bit late init?

  36. Colin Tree

    internet traffic royalties

    Back in the day, there was a surcharge on CDs, which covered royalties and allowed copying audio CDs. There is always a reasonable way to make everyone happy. Maybe content makers get some royalty payment from overall internet traffic paid by ISPs and added as a surcharge to all internet users. This will pave the way for future increases in online content consumption.

  37. Alan Brown Silver badge

    "Back in the day, there was a surcharge on CDs"

    Which meant those not using them to copy music were subsidising companies for something they weren't doing.

    AND that those who were copying music were effectively paying a license to copy as much as they wanted.

    The age old question still applies: Have I bought the media, in which case I can do what I like with it, or have I bought a license, in which case I can listen to it on any media I see fit?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Victory?

    The effect either the original law or the court ruling had on the number of CDs ripped? Absolutely none at all, I'd guess.

    A brilliant use of resources all round.

  39. Martin H Watson

    I've just finished...

    ... ripping my 78 RPM shellac to digital. I had to do it before the record player breaks. The alternative is for the authorities to provide me with a new 78 RPM record player please.

  40. nomis65

    I only buy CDs as a way of obtaining music in a half-decent uncompressed format. I don't even own a CD player now, other than in the car, so I'm obliged to rip the content to a file server so I can play it on my audiophile network player. If it was as easy to buy a 16/44.1 (or ideally 24/96 or 24/192) FLAC download as it is to buy a CD from Amazon, and from the same back catalogue, and at no price premium, then my CD buying days would be over and this would be a non-issue. If the music industry is really against media shifting then they need to deliver the content in a decent format.

  41. Graham Cobb

    Of course it is "priced in"

    How on earth did they get away with claiming format shifting is not priced in? It has been priced in forever, and that price is almost zero.

    Imagine if a music company offered two versions of a CD: one permitting format shifting and the other not. The latter would have to be priced at a discount, of course. That discount is the "price" of the format shifting option.

    If some company had actually done this, and had managed to set the prices such that they got significant sales of both options, then they could reasonably claim that there was a non-trivial price for format shifting, and that that was NOT priced in on the non-format-shifting CD. That would have formed evidence that format shifting was NOT priced in to ordinary CD sales.

    But, they never did this. So, they cannot possibly claim format shifting was not priced in. They should not have been allowed to get away with it.

    It is obvious that if someone wants to claim that some restrictions has some value, for which they should be compensated, they need to be able to point to evidence showing that, given a choice, people were previously buying both with and without the restriction, at different prices. The price difference is the value of the restriction (to both the buyer and the seller). This should be true for DRM as well: if you want DRM-removal to be illegal you should have to be successfully selling content with and without DRM at different prices so people should not be able to change one into the other after purchase.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Pub-landlord-onomics

      Uh, Graham - why not read the two judgements, linked in the article, then Google the evidence, before offering armchair "common sense" economics?

      The Government lost a million quid trying to make your argument, that didn't have the evidence to support what you say is "common sense".

      Even the academics told to find the Right Answer (the same one that's in your head) couldn't find it; then the Government basically lied about the quality of evidence. And not surprisingly, got its bummed kicked.

      You are basically saying the world should work in a particular way, and getting angry that it doesn't.

      Perhaps you're making the argument that was lost in the 1990s about whether format shifting creates lost sales? That's gone now. Are you going to start a campaign to repeal paying musicians across Europe?

  42. dogged

    Dumb question

    If I buy, for example, a comic... and then I scan it to my tablet (or even photocopy the bloody thing) and stash the original comic in one of those dust covers that hardcore nerds have so that I can read it while retaining a pristine hard copy, have I broken the law?

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