Today is an important day for you and me… though you may not realise it! It’s no longer illegal to copy a music CD you’ve bought onto your MP3 player. And your comments helped us make this change happen.
The reason I say ‘you may not realise it’ is because many had already been format shifting for years. And most of us didn’t realise it was actually against the law. Now, at last, the law has caught up with common sense and it’s something we’ve wanted to see for many years.
So just to set the record straight… you are now allowed to make personal copies of media you’ve bought to any device you own, or even your private cloud. However, you can’t give others access to the copies you’ve made.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose
While it’s always nice to return to an old Conversation to say ‘job done’, of course that assumes the job is actually done. As was clear from the comments to our last Convo on this topic, allowing consumers to make a private copy of something they already own was hardly a major reform; it was common sense. Many of you thought there was still a long way to go before copyright law was really brought into the 21st century.
Indeed, it will be a while before all the recommendations made by the Hargreaves Review are fully implemented. And it’s clear it will be a struggle. A number of MPs and Peers questioned the wisdom of the Government’s proposed legislation to allow private copying for personal use at every stage of its parliamentary passage (thus delaying its implementation) as they were worried about the impact on the digital industries. They thought it might encourage unlawful digital file sharing and questioned whether the provisions included ‘fair recompense’ for copyright owners. Clearly, copyright reform is a very complex area of law.
Steering away from copyright theft
So, just remember, while you can now make a personal copy of that old vinyl album you want to listen to on your iPod without fearing a knock at your door, you still can’t give a copy to all your friends, not even one of them. That’s still copyright theft. Though to be fair, as long ago as 2006, the BPI, which represents the music industry, said it wanted to make it ‘unequivocally clear to the consumer that, if they copy their CDs for their private use in order to move music from format to format, we will not pursue them’.
Although covered by the same copyright rules, how this will work for other types of media, like ebooks and DVDs, is currently unknown.
What do you think about the new copyright laws? Are you happy to see the changes being made, or do you think they’re much ado about nothing?