/ Technology

Why is ripping music still illegal?

Headphones around CD collection

What’s so wrong about putting music you’ve already paid for onto your iPod? It’s a law that’s totally out of touch and it’s about time digital music fans weren’t branded as criminals.

I’m about to confess to a crime. I rip CDs on my computer then transfer them onto my iPod – in full knowledge that I’m actively breaking the law.

Once done, I hide away the evidence (I pop the CD in the loft) and brazenly walk the streets of London playing my illegally ripped music in full view. Apparently, I have no shame and am guilty as charged.

What’s strange is that I haven’t yet been arrested.

In fact, there are millions of others just like me. Criminals up and down the land, all of us routinely breaking the law by putting legally purchased music onto another device to enjoy on the move.

Admit it – you’ve ripped a CD or two

There’s a good chance every one of you has stained your past by ripping a CD onto your computer – a guilty secret that could see you marched to court and fined.

It’s called format shifting – and some record companies have in all seriousness likened it to stealing. Only, what we’re really talking about is theft where you’ve done a runner with your own shopping bags. In effect, you’re stealing the stuff you already own.

But, say the record companies, it’s illegal. Ok, but it’s quite simply out of step with today’s music consumption.

Change your tune – it’s not file-sharing

Oh, and a note to knee-jerk legal folk: I’m not talking about fattening up your iPod with un-purchased songs from file-sharing sites – that’s a definite no-no and worthy of the full weight of the law.

Instead, I’m talking about actually being able to listen to the music we’ve paid for on the devices we choose to, without joining the ranks of blaggers, muggers and hijackers.

No one has been taken to court for ripping their own, purchased music to their own iPod for their own use. That, though, doesn’t stop it being a criminal activity, and it’s clearly time for the law and the music industry to acknowledge that we should be able to format shift the music we’ve paid for.

It’s not often that I accuse my readers of being criminals, but until the law is changed, that’s exactly what we are. So, until then, I guess it’s a fair cop (or at least, an album by The Police).

tungsten says:
3 July 2010

The same goes for videos – I’ve loads of them stuffed away in a cupboard, gathering dust with some stuffy old video recorder that’s not been used for years. Yet I now want to copy some of them onto a digital format (DVD or PC) so I can play them in my ‘current world’. I’ve tried, but those splendidly wonderful ******** in the studios chose to put some form of copy protection on them which prevents me from doing so.

Since I bought these videos with my own money, surely I should be able to continue using them. Back in the nineties if I changed one video recorder for another, I was obviously able to play the video in my new recorder. Just because I changed years ago to a HD player, why can’t I do the same. I already OWN the film, so why should I buy it a second time just to keep watching it. I don’t need a DVD and I don’t need a new download, so why should I help line the pockets of some studio executive to buy the film again for a second time?!?!?

It’s no wonder, with this type of attitude, why our younger friends run to the illegal methods that allow them to get on with life rather than trying to work out how to dance to the tune of the out of touch studios.

Bluealienfish says:
5 July 2010

Maybe this is one of those laws that we can ask Nick Clegg to get rid of.

Pula Houghton says:
5 July 2010

This goes back as far as the walkman really. The most crazy thing is that most people probably don’t even know it is illegal!

Wasn’t taping music from radio stations illegal? The whole mini-revolution of mix-taps would never have happened if this was enforced. These kind of laws just feel like those silly unenforced laws that are all around the world – such as ‘you can’t look at a moose out of a plane in in some Canadian states.

I think the public have never forgiven the music industries for ripping them off in the past. They not only get free music but relish denying the record makers code of business.

Buying CD's is so expensive in the first place, and although the price has come down a little, you'd think that with digital music becoming the preferred media, that the price would have fallen a lot more than it has. It is ridiculous to ask people to pay 79p extra per track for CD's they've legitimately bought, and for quite a premium.

As far as I understand the copyright issues; if you purchase a CD, DVD or download something then as long as it is for your use only you are perfectly legally allowed to change media (ie put a CD on to tape to listen in your car). You have bought the right to listen to it and the particular medium it is supplied on is incidental. You may, for instance, put your favourite tracks into an I-player or onto your computer to listen to. You do not need to keep re-buying in the different media, as long as it is for your solwe use.

The point here is that it is for your use. Many people still cannot equate making copies of music for people as theft.

I would agree with the notion that the public is ripped off by the music industry, we have been for years; but one wrong does not make another right – it is still theft.

If you read the copyright notice on Videos – it is illegal to copy the video in any way onto any other format..

I ignore it.. If I want a CD track that I have already bought on my MP3 player – I do so. The same with those shows I taped from the TV. They are all on DVD to use on my DVD player.

It is possible to copy commercial tapes and DVDs though not easy.. If I have bought a film on one medium to use in my home – I feel I have a right to copy it to another media to use in my own home.

I am not selling or lending them – just using them on a more convenient format. That is not piracy – nor is it destroying the Industry – I can only use the film on one machine at a time.

Gerard Phelan says:
13 August 2010

Curiously the Music Industry was once MORE open to technological innovation than it is today. For a few years about 1978, as an ordinary British citizen, not a business, I used to pay the MCPS – Mechanical Copyright Protection Society, a few pounds a year for a licence that legally allowed me to copy my Vinyl records to cassettes for my own use. It pleased me to have that piece of paper, but after a few years the MCPS stopped allowing me to pay them..

Cathy says:
10 June 2011

I do this all the time (copy CDs onto our PC to play through our home audio network) and had absolutely no idea it was illegal!! I feel really strongly that musicians and performers have a right not to have their stuff ripped off by people who want to listen to music they haven’t paid for. But where a person has already bought and paid for a CD, surely they can’t be ‘stealing’ the music when they listed to it from their computer/iphone/mp3 player??!

Agreed, it’s madness. This policy is thankfully under review: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/ripping-cd-dvd-music-film-copying-copyright-law/