back to article UK can finally 'legalise home taping' without bringing in daft new tax

EU governments don’t have to impose a levy on blank media to compensate copyright holders for losses from private copies, the European Court of Justice has decreed. It’s actually perfectly lawful to compensate them from a general fund, as Spain and Finland do, an opinion from Advocate General, Maciej Szpunar, clarified today. …

  1. JimmyPage
    Thumb Up

    +1

    For the Led Zeppelin reference alone.

    Now I shall read the article !

  2. Loud Speaker

    A lot of home taping is NOT of material controlled by the BPI etc. People make home videos, and record their children's first words, as well as distributing Linux, etc,

    Who decides who gets the compensation, and how? And why?

    How big are the contributions to OpenBSD from this (cess) pool?

    1. John Lilburne

      FFS in the number of people that only copy Linux and don't copy music files is about 1 in a population of 6 billion.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If Penguistas thought about other people's use-cases then there'd be a usable UI and it really would be year of Linux on the desktop...

        1. nematoad Silver badge
          Windows

          Eh?

          ...then there'd be a usable UI..."

          What. You mean like Win 8?

          You must be new here.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Over here a 25c levy is paid on each blank disc by small bands selling CDs at gigs.

      The money is supposed to be handed out in proportion to sales/airtime (ie to Brian Adams) but in practice the industry body running it hasn't actually distributed any because it doesn't cover their costs.

    3. MJI Silver badge

      Exactly

      Home videos go through Mini DV quite a lot.

      Then since I have HDV burning to BluRay

      I also back up home PC to Blu Ray

      Older stuff (Mini DV & Beta) to DVD

      Last time I burnt anything copied was ripping a DVD so I could watch it (get past locked down adware & trailers)

  3. tony2heads
    Coat

    To quote Led Zep.

    Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan

    1. jeffdyer

      Re: To quote Led Zep.

      To quote Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie you mean.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_the_Levee_Breaks

  4. Richard Wharram

    Blank media?

    Does this even apply to anything people still use or is it just tremendous navel-gazing?

    1. Pascal

      Re: Blank media?

      This is just step 1.

      Soon enough, the argument will be made that USB sticks are the most common storage medium for copied media. Then of course it's just a small leap to hard drives and them newfangled SSD. Come to think of it, your phone stores music too.

      Per-gigabyte tax on any form of non-volatile storage is the only way to be fair!

      1. Richard Wharram

        Re: Blank media?

        Onedrive? Dropbox?

  5. 's water music

    I lost track at some point...

    So did home taping kill music in the end or not? If it did, sorry.

    1. earl grey
      Trollface

      Re: I lost track at some point...

      No, that was video killed the radio star....

    2. nijam Silver badge

      Re: I lost track at some point...

      > So did home taping kill music in the end or not?

      No, the record companies killed music.

      Just to be absolutely clear, none of this funding would go to musicians anyway. It would go to record companies, vanish into "hollywood accounting", and so on.

    3. LucreLout

      Re: I lost track at some point...

      So did home taping kill music in the end or not?

      No. In the end, what killed music was Simon Cowell.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: I lost track at some point... @LucreLout

        "So did home taping kill music in the end or not?

        "No. In the end, what killed music was Simon Cowell."

        Sorry - you aren't old enough. Pop music was murdered by Stock, Aitken and Waterman.

        1. LucreLout

          Re: I lost track at some point... @LucreLout

          Sorry - you aren't old enough. Pop music was murdered by Stock, Aitken and Waterman.

          I'm most certainly old enough to recall the days of SAW. However, they gave us the delightful Kylie Minogue and for that, all sins are forgiven. Like a fine wine, she just gets better with age. Obviously, being a formerly long haired rocker, I usually watch her music videos with the sound off and Black Sabbath on.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Wow....

    ..that was balanced.

    How about....we're paying a levy either directly or indirectly on media that's most likely not even going to be used for the purpose we're being taxed on and is just a lame attempt at getting money for nothing (as a certain band once said).

  7. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    The government gave a specific reason when they created the exemption

    When I buy the right to listen to some music it makes no difference to the musician what technology I use to listen to that music. The musician has not lost anything, so the correct amount of compensation is 0. That was the government's clearly stated reason for the lack of compensation from the beginning.

    Thanks to this ruling, we must now fund a quango to calculate how much each musician deserves and not pay them because the research ate the entire budget to arrive at a long list of zeroes.

    Time for Orlowski to demonstrate the value of a compensation scheme. Lets see financial details of the existing compensation organisations: how much they collect and the amount - if any - that reaches musicians directly and not spent on their behalf on tasks like pointless litigation and lobbying for more pork.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The government gave a specific reason when they created the exemption

      "When I buy the right to listen to some music it makes no difference to the musician what technology I use to listen to that music."

      On the contrary, the music industry *loves* an excuse to sell you the same music you've already bought, over and over in different formats.

      Mono LP, stereo LP, eight-track cartridge, cassette, CD, remastered CD, re-remastered CD with different bonus tracks, DVD Audio/SACD, blah blah. I'm sure they'd quite like to keep this up in the post-physical-media age.

      Meanwhile, the thruppence ha'penny royalties that are the financial crumbs from the table make a big "difference" to the musicians' bank account.

      1. VinceH

        Re: The government gave a specific reason when they created the exemption

        "On the contrary, the music industry *loves* an excuse to sell you the same music you've already bought, over and over in different formats."

        Yes, but Flocke specifically said the musicians rather than the music industry. The industry isn't just the musicians - it's a lot of other people as well.

      2. Velv
        Mushroom

        Re: The government gave a specific reason when they created the exemption

        @AC "Meanwhile, the thruppence ha'penny royalties that are the financial crumbs from the table make a big "difference" to the musicians' bank account."

        Perhaps then the record label or retailer should absorb the cost of these crumbs and pay the author and artist double or triple the current amount. For those not aware, it's 2%-4%.

        The music industry want to have its cake and eat it. They expect you to pay for multiple media copies, but you can't leave your digital music to your children (see Bruce Willis iTunes).

        I do have sympathy for struggling artists who are being exploited by the industry. But that doesn't mean we should fix it by penalising the listener. Fix the labels and retailers.

    2. The Nazz

      Re: the right to listen to music

      Can you please stop with this nonsense? The right to listen to indeed.

      I only buy physical things, Vinyl LP's and CD's. Having purchased the product i use it as i see fit.

      I paid the "artist" and associated "parasite" tax at the time of outright purchase.

      Anyway, wasn't the original intent of copyright to remunerate creatives "whilst they create more work"?

      Not as a parasite foodstuff many years after their creative output ceases (including death).

    3. The Nazz

      Re: The "right" to listen to music

      Would you please stop with this nonsense.

      The music industry sold me physical property, Vinyl LP's and CD's on which i paid the appropriate "artiste" and associated parasite "taxes". Outright purchase. No mention of a licence.

      1. chr0m4t1c

        Re: The "right" to listen to music

        >No mention of a licence.

        You'd better check.

        I used to think, but if you dig out your microscope and read the tiny print (can be on the label, booklet or cover) you'll usually find that you have been granted a license for personal use of whatever is on the medium and normally excluding public performance (so a radio station can't just pay £10 for a CD to play on the air as many times as they want, for example).

        I must admit, I was quite surprised when I looked into this stuff a few years ago.

    4. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: The government gave a specific reason when they created the exemption

      When I buy the right to listen to some music it makes no difference to the musician what technology I use to listen to that music. The musician has not lost anything, so the correct amount of compensation is 0. That was the government's clearly stated reason for the lack of compensation from the beginning.

      "Thanks to this ruling, we must now fund a quango to calculate"

      Er. No.

      "Time for Orlowski to demonstrate the value of a compensation scheme..."

      Time for you to calm down a little, I think. Any mention of paying musicians seems to send some Commentards round the bend.

      "When I buy the right to listen to some music it makes no difference to the musician what technology I use to listen to that music. The musician has not lost anything..."

      <slaps forehead>

      The state has stepped in and removed a property right. A commercially valuable property right. Which is also your right (and you would care if you were creative in any way). Under international treaties this can't be done without compensation. There are good reasons for this, even if they escape you.

      "...spent on their behalf on tasks like pointless litigation and lobbying for more pork"

      I do suspect that if Herr Kroes found himself being paid as reliably as musicians get paid for use of their sound recordings, he would be noisily backing a lot of "pointless litigation" on behalf of Herr Kroes.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: The government gave a specific reason when they created the exemption

        Funny really, but the musicians I know, did it fot the love of music not the money.

        Otherwise they would have been better off just doing their day jobs.

        Anyway I am very unimpressed with record labels as the only deals they offered years agp were so bad that many bands stuck to self funded or touring only.

  8. TRT Silver badge

    Ruling not available in English...

    But you can make as many photocopies of the Spanish version as you like; for your own personal use, of course.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Ruling not available in English...

      I should hope so, they have a levy on printers, scanners, and photocopiers so if you've bought one in Spain you've paid to be able to copy already.

  9. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Meh

    Very good, but...

    Why would musicians need compensating for format shifting in the first place... what's the original reason for that? A TV station doesn't get compensated if somebody records a TV programme. I get the feeling that there is no real reason, it's just that many EU countries already do it so the rest must too.

    Now that the court has clarified that compensation is not linked to a levy on blank media, can it just come out of the same pot that the BPI get and we can be done with this nonsense? Or if it must be a different pot, make it 1p/year.

    1. Timbo Bronze badge

      Re: Very good, but...

      "Why would musicians need compensating for format shifting in the first place... what's the original reason for that? "

      I think that the original reason comes from "way back when", when there were two sources of music - LP's and tape (either reel to reel, cassette, or even 8-track).

      As such, the musicians and record companies expected people to buy TWO copies of any specific song or album, assuming you wanted to play said music at home or in the car and you didn't want to buy a record player for the car or a tape deck for home...

      For most people it was never an issue as pre-recorded cassette and 8-tracks sounded dire.

      But then higher quality hardware came along and you could then record the LP you bought onto a high quality blank take (which usually sounded better that the fast-duplicated tapes available for sale). Or you record certain favorite songs and make up a mix-tape you could share with friends...so they then didn't have to buy said music at all.

      The music industry didn't like this and hence campaigned for blank media to be taxed somehow and for musicians to be given this extra money.

      The "battle" has been raging since the mid-1970s....and it would be nice if it came to an conclusion now.

      1. Sven Coenye

        Re: Very good, but...

        It did stem from about that era, but the justification on the Continent was people recording from the radio, or someone else's LP collection. i.e. it was compensation for pirated copies.

        How this got turned into a levy on making personal use copies of legitimately owned media is something else altogether.

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re: Very good, but...

          ". i.e. it was compensation for pirated copies."

          No, only if you regard the Government as a pirate. Which I suppose you can, a lot of the time. But that's by the by. See the my explanation elsewhere in this thread.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Very good, but...

      A TV station doesn't get compensated if somebody records a TV programme.

      You take that for granted, but the content producers would very much like to be compensated for just that. That's why there's the relatively short time limit on time shifting services like BBC iPlayer; short period time shifting is grudgingly accepted as basically a delayed broadcast, however anything resembling a permanent copy would require additional licencing.

    3. crarcher
      WTF?

      Re: Very good, but...

      It's got to the stage where if you run a radio station (hospital radio in my case) and you buy the .wav file from say ilikemusic you have to pay the copyright bodies a dubbing licence to store that wav file in a play out system even though it's not been dubbed over from another media.

  10. joeW

    Quick question

    So is this pot of money thats up for grabs only for musicians, or is it for anyone who stands to lose out to unlicensed digital copying?

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. joeW

        Re: Quick question

        I was thinking of photographers, designers, writers and the like. Do we also have to start forking over tax money to them because they may or may not have suffered monetary losses due to copyright infringement?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Coffee/keyboard

    Why the hell should they get a penny ?

    I wasn't recompensed by the Government when I had my car stolen* and had to be compensated out of insurance that I had to purchase myself. Heck, why not remunerate them additionally due to the sale of blank sheets of paper as that can be used to copy literal works.

    * note: permanently deprived of my property and not copied.

    1. NotBob

      I never understood this compensation crap to begin with. Not doing that seems like one of those things my country definitely got right.

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        'I never understood this compensation crap to begin with."

        You must be a gift to any boss who employs you.

        Please send your details to El Reg - we could use someone like you around the office.

    2. Adam 1

      > Why the hell should they get a penny ?

      Actually that sounds like the perfect amount for the said pot.

  12. Natalie Gritpants Silver badge

    Can I use the pirate bay now? (Do I have to buy enough USB sticks to store it all on or would an external 4TB drive suffice?)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed.

      If a levy is placed on blank media to compensate musicians, perhaps I can get my music kicks directly from BitTorrent as long as I burn to one of the said media levied formats, since I've already paid for it.

      The problem with these kinds of taxation schemes is that morally they work both ways.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Again if none of the money goes to Japanese or Korean artists you can go forth and multiply.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      same can be said for xfactor et al

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It’s actually perfectly lawful to compensate them from a general fund, as Spain and Finland

    Every paragraph that mentioned Spain is factually incorrect as far as I know. There IS a tax on blank media and it was implemented for the purpose of paying off rights-holders. Now this may go via a central fund (in fact I'd be surprised if there wasn't some mechanism in place for the politicos to have a nibble as it went past); but it's not paid for for free out of the goodness of the politician's hearts and for the pure love of their citizens, as the article implies.

    1. Mike Dimmick

      My understanding of the article is that Spain's blank media tax is not hypothecated (accounted for in a separate accounting). The tax goes into the general fund, the payments come out of the general fund. The collecting societies were presumably appealing because there's no actual law saying that money in has to equal money out - and the court said that was fine, there didn't need to be one. So Spain can set the tax as high or low as they want, and the payments as high or low as they want, as long as the payments are fair.

      This is a hell of a lot easier to manage, because they don't need to worry about adjutsing the tax or payment levels to deal with surpluses or deficits in the hypothecated fund, if the aggregate tax collected and payments made don't match up.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      I went and looked it up and...

      - At the end of 2011 the law was changed from a levy to a general taxation. In the general election this was sold as "we're getting rid of the levy".

      - From memory it ended up in court after that. Since then I'm not sure what happened but I suppose the law was upheld.

      - As for the actual amount in the pot taken from general taxation, who knows? Probably a state secret.

      - I don't remember a sudden drop in media or devices like mp3 players, printers, or phones.

  15. MJI Silver badge

    My friends

    They released a CD, been copied everywhere, yet any blanks used for copying them will have their money assigned to some tosser I do not care about.

    BTW I have legit copies as they are my friends

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, if i may ask..

    How about DRM cd's dvd etc.

    Is it now legal to circumvent DRM on media I legally own and can now legally back up??

    1. Velv
      Boffin

      Re: So, if i may ask..

      An interesting additional complexity that will add cost to the operation of the pool and reduce the funds available - any content protected by DRM must automatically be excluded from compensation since it can't be copied.

    2. Timbo Bronze badge

      Re: So, if i may ask..

      "How about DRM cd's dvd etc."

      I think this only covers music and CD's....

      As far as DVD goes, there's a different "set" of media companies' interests at stake, namely Hollywood and the film studios.

      Most (music) albums might only cost a small number (or even fractions) of millions to create, market and produce - so their "losses" to "home taping" are relatively minor. However, studios can spend hundreds of millions of dollars/pounds etc to do a similar job, so "copying" said movies causes a lot more consternation and as such, it's less likely that they will be appeased by said ruling(s).

      The technology does exist for individuals to "copy" DVD's and convert said files into MKV (or similar) files that can be watched on various devices (and without needing the original media)....so, at some point some scheme needs to be thought of, to ensure that film companies can be reimbursed with some form of compensation.....but don't hold your breath !!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, if i may ask..

      Yeah but no but yeah but no but yeah but no - that's the abbreviated version. Do you want a full text?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    set up a pot of money

    yeah, and guess who benefits from this pot of money in those EU countries, where such pots have been set up?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FFS

    Here's 27p, I'll even put it in the tin for the UK Govt, help yourselves and stop whinging. When I make a copy, it is _not_ a lost sale.

  19. x 7

    home taping?

    who on earth uses tapes nowadays? Can you even buy them?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      easier to say than home-CDing or Home DVDing etc

  20. dan1980

    The idea of requiring compensation for copying a purchased CD to a writable CD* is utterly at odds with the assertion that when one buys a music CD (etc . . .) one is actually buying a license to consume that content.

    Either I am paying for the artistic work or not - end of story.

    I understand that the quality of the recording of the work is relevant and buying a VHS copy of a movie does not and should not automatically grant me a right to watch the Blu-Ray version, not least because it is likely remastered, which requires extra work that should be compensated (paid for).

    But that's not relevant to this issue at all because the process of transferring the work from one media to another does not increase the quality of the work itself. Ripping a CD as a 24/192 FLAC just gives me a 16/44 track in a bigger size - I don't magically get access to the recorded work as it would sound if the file was created from the original analog masters at 24/192.

    * - Or a CD to a cassette or a DVD to another DVD or to a hard drive, etc . . .

  21. Youngone Silver badge

    Still Waiting

    I'm yet to hear a coherent argument as to why a rights holder should be compensated if I make a copy of the music I legally bought.

    I understand there are legal arguments, and different mechanisms for it happening, but I'm unable to understand why.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Still Waiting

      Because you haven't bought the right to make a copy.

      This is a commercially valuable right that's traded. For money. You have this right too. Anybody stealing this right from you (like a Government, through a copyright exception) needs to pay you.

      Nowadays with MP3s, the right is bundled in, and you can wonder why it wasn't years ago. But that's different question.

      1. Topperfalkon

        Re: Still Waiting

        The Government absolutely can take rights away. It's their prerogative as the UK's legislative body.

        For a subset of those rights we defer to the EU and/or the ECHR however, such as in this case, where it's the Gov'ts job to argue that their legislation is allowed and/or challenge existing EU legislation.

        And regardless on your opinions on format shifting, implementing a levy on copying media to "compensate" a limited group of people seems completely unjust, as it's a targeted tax on a media that may not even be used for the activities for which these people want to be compensated.

        For example, in a hypothetical UK where such a levy is introduced, I would expect that if I used any such media to make a copy of a work that has waived its copyrights (for instance, any non-commercial copy of Linux, or any FOSS software), I shouldn't have to pay a levy, or I should be able to claim back against the levy. Also, I don't understand how the levy would really work, given that most writeable media these days can make multiple copies.

        I'd be against a general fund that pays into the industry for copying "compensation" as this money will get caught up in middlemen and the current schemes these companies use tend to disproportionately favour bigger creators (though admittedly I'm basing this off testimony from The Indelicates from a few years back). I'd sooner have some kind of funding available through the UK arts and culture funding that is applied flatly to all artists for any of their works. That would act as an incentive to keep creating.

      2. Pat Att

        Re: Still Waiting

        Those copyright exceptions are known as "fair dealing". That implies it's "fair" to deal in the copyright in the manner dictated by those fair dealing provisions. (e.g. criticism and review etc.). You don't compensate other news sources when you copy their stories, because it's fair dealing. Making a backup copy of a CD I've bought should just be brought into the fair dealing provisions, and then there's no "stealing" as you put it, going on.

    2. LucreLout

      Re: Still Waiting

      I quite agree. I've bought Bat Outta Hell (MeatLoaf) on vinyl, cassette, and CD. Sorry Mr Loaf, but since I'm happy to format shift my CD onto MP3, I can't see a reason to pay you a 4th time for some work you did in the 1970's, however much I like the album.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Still Waiting - Bat out of Hell

        I dunno, may be if you buy it again he will come round and perform it for you.

        He is supposed to be quite nice.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good thing they waited until 2016

    When few people are burning anything to CD any longer!

  23. ckm5

    Definitions matter

    I would suggest only taxing blank media capable of reproducing ONLY audio or video signals since these are the only products who's sole use falls under the infringement category.

    1. JaitcH
      Meh

      Re: Definitions matter

      How would / could you discriminate between digital audio or video signals and plain digital data - short of adding a pile of electronics or software?

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Definitions matter

        I believe that was the point?

  24. veti Silver badge

    Fair as in Vanity

    So... the government is to maintain a pool of money that it distributes to artists who support it are deserving, based no doubt on a published formula that I'm confident will be as fair, transparent and unbiased as any Putin press release...

    And how exactly is this pool supposed to relate to the amount of copying going on?

    At least a "tax on blank media" makes some effort to connect the two, albeit in a very blunt and stupid way. (If you add 10p to the price of a blank CD, logically you should be adding 140 quid to the price of a terabyte hard drive, because that can also be used to record music.) A "pool from general taxation" just means "however much the gov't wants to bribe artists by this year". Watch for it to go up the year before an election.

  25. JaitcH
    Happy

    Who tapes or burns these days?

    On my frequent visits to China I often pick up 'content' that is not available in Indochina - even though Laos has porous borders and borders China.

    Tapes have been passé for years, even DVDs and BlueRay have yielded to SD memory in the copy shops on China - although you need to check the quality. Obviously, DVDs and BlueRay disks remain economic for a few movies or music, but for bulk it's hard to beat SD and the Border Plod / Icemen hardly ever bother about SD chips.

    In fact it is cheaper to buy SD memory, with content loaded, and then erase it so you can use it for your own purposes than to buy virgin SD chips.

  26. meanioni

    Well, I've decided to license my ears and eyes to all those providers who bombard me with material I did not request (e.g. music used in a TV programme/ad/on radio/Youtube Vid). I will be sending the broadcasters a bill for the pleasure of using my ears. :-)

    Alternatively, bring in a levy on blank media, but phase it in. Start with the earliest form (fair) and then work it in over a period of time. So, now for Video 2000, Laserdisks and reel-to-reel. In two years, do VHS and Betamax, 4 years time 8-track and cassettes, then minidisks in year 6..... :-)

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Oi!

      I am still using some of those formats!

      Oh and when does Mini-DV get counted?

      My PMP is a Hi-MD product, sounds good, works, why replace?

      And I still have a lot of Beta kit. The only Vhs kit I have are used to keep my Sanyo M40 off the floor.

    2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      I know for certain that 8-track and Philips cassette predates any kind of home video format.

  27. 96percentchimp

    Bloody human rights

    "The UK can now bring in the exception by passing the law along with a provision for a small pot of money. This is seems reluctant to do, in contrast to the way it flings the cash at other recipients, such as internet VCs... Global "human rights initiatives" get over £10m a year, to choose an another example at random."

    Not, for instance, the "too big to fail" banks? Hang on [checks byline]. Ah, it's Orlowski.

  28. Nifty Silver badge

    How about reducing VAT on gig tickets? Compensation from 'general fund' done, job's a good 'un.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      VAT ain't the problem, TicketMaster is.

  29. Pat Att

    I've already paid once....

    Why should musicians get any compensation for me buying a blank disk to backup a CD I've legitimately bought? They've earned their bit from my original purchase.

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