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Ripping CDs Set To Be Legalized In UK 156

Posted by Soulskill
from the about-bloody-time dept.
nk497 writes "The UK is finally set to legalize format shifting, making it legal for the first time to rip songs or films from CDs and DVDs. Ripping is technically illegal under copyright protection laws, despite most industry lobbyists agreeing it was time for a change. The rules look set to be modernized as the government endorses a recent intellectual property report, which also called for the government to ditch plans to require ISPs to block illegal file-sharing sites without a court order."
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Ripping CDs Set To Be Legalized In UK

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  • by Lanteran (1883836) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @05:07AM (#36969782) Homepage Journal

    It was illegal in the UK? I would have thought that of all places, it would have been illegal in the US. Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction I guess...

    • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ynot_82 (1023749) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @05:21AM (#36969840)

      It is indeed currently illegal to format shift here
      but it's not enforced

      Under the same law it's technically "illegal" to tape something off the TV
      but only in the most obvious of obvious selling-bootleg-copies-down-the-market instances is anything ever done about it

      • by zandeez (1917156)
        IIRC It's not illegal to tape something from the TV. It is illegal to keep that recording for more than 14 days after the original broadcast.
      • US, UK. Both common-law countries, yet they seem have such different legal/judicial "cultures".

        I suspect that someone accused of filesharing 24 songs over dialup wouldn't get a multimillion-dollar decision of damages against them in the UK. But, of course I could be wrong. Are there any barristers / solicitors lurking on /. to chime in and give us first hand opinion about the differences in the practice of IP law between the two countries?

        • by DrXym (126579)
          More likely they'd get a slap on the wrist and a large but not disproportionate fine. Not too long ago a UK firm called ACS:Law did try to shake down potential P2P filesharers usually through threats of legal action and summary judgements filed in bulk. Things didn't go too well for them what with being hacked, customer data being leaked, complaints to the Information Commissioner (over the breach), fines and judicial criticism.
        • I believe that in the UK you would only have to pay the losses incurred, so 24 songs at 79p would be £18.96, plus small claims court fees (may only top £50-100).

          As for suing the average joe for copyright infringement for piracy, the music industry has lost every case in the UK.

          • by jonbryce (703250)

            Copyright infringement cases are heard in the Patent County Court, not the Small Claims Court.

      • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Tim C (15259) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @06:18AM (#36970100)

        Under the same law it's technically "illegal" to tape something off the TV

        No it is not; in fact time-shifting is explicitly listed as an exception in the law. For example, see section 8 of this page [copyrightservice.co.uk]. What is illegal is recording broadcasts in order to build up a library of recordings (i.e. you can't keep the recordings forever), but time-shifting is definitely not illegal.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          I'm surprised they have not tried to close the TV license loophole where you are exempt if you only watch recordings. As long as you never watch any of the live streams you can watch iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD etc. without a license as it currently stands.

          • by ewanm89 (1052822)
            Close that one, and youtube, vimeo, dailymotion.... would also be illegal to watch without a TV licence. We have an issue that TV licence does not work, and is even more broken when applied to the internet.
            • by Kakihara (958777)

              The TV license is not broken in the sense that it exists to fund the BBC and the BBC is well-funded. Thus we have either the finest broadcaster in the world or something close to it. It's pretty sad that papers like the Daily Mail have gone to war with it because of a supposed left wing bias. It was sad that the Murdochs were so vehemently anti-BBC, but given their disgrace their opposition might now be a blessing.

              But you are right in the sense that if TV becomes predominantly consumed via a pc, then it wil

        • So you can't build an archive to release when the content becomes public domain. While it doesn't surprise me, it makes me wonder. How one should go about legally preserving content for the future? Are there initiatives dedicated to that?

        • by treeves (963993)

          Well, it's safe to say that I will not live forever, thus I cannot violate such a law.

      • On top of that, backing up media rather than time-shifting is even greyer. I can't cite a case for you, but I'm sure I've heard that making a single backup for your own use is legal due to precedent - so you can make a single copy of your Windows installation CD or favourite episode of Red Dwarf for your own use if, and only if, the original fails.
        • by pbhj (607776)

          >I'm sure I've heard that making a single backup for your own use is legal due to precedent

          Nope, this is exactly what this _proposed_ change is addressing. "Backups" and "format shifting" are currently illegal to make, use of the copy is largely irrelevant here (beyond level of damages), copyright law protects against people _making_ unlicensed copies.

      • by Lanteran (1883836)

        Hm, and here I was thinking the US was had the most backwards copyright laws in the world. So basically the same type of enforcement as ripping DVDs is in the US then, no action unless you try to distribute the copies?

      • No, some format shifting is explicitly legal. The Philips 765 CD burner [gallagher.com] that I own, for example, is explicitly intended to convert analog audio from other stereo components into digital and record it on CD, or make digital copies of existing CDs, but it (a) will only burn to CD-R discs which are marked "Digital Music" (making sure the music industry gets a cut of the CD price), and has certain copyright features(SCMS) in place to limit making multi-generation copies.

        The Audio Home Audio Recording Act of19 [wikipedia.org]

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Things can be illegal in more than one place at the same time.

      Looks like the UK has had an outbreak of common sense.

      I'm particularly amazed by the line: "...the government endorses a recent intellectual property report". WTF? Heads will be rolling around the floor of the MAFIIA offices today.

      • > "...the government endorses a recent intellectual property report".

        That's a first. I've lost count of the number of times some quango has been set up to bolster gov't policies and then been quietly buried when their report turns out to recommend the opposite.

      • by Lanteran (1883836)

        ... I was just amazed that it was illegal in the UK, but not the US, which as far as I knew had more draconian copyright laws.

  • I am not trying to be a pessimist here, but I would think there is some small loophole in the new law, that would give the British equivalent of RIAA or MPAA some leverage. Anyone knows anything about this ?
    • by EasyTarget (43516)

      I'm sure the devil will be in the detail. This is legislation designed to help the content Stazi, not hinder it.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot&hackish,org> on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @05:16AM (#36969822)

    If we're finally getting around to CDs now, I guess sensible laws relating to downloaded/streamed content will be coming in around 2030.

    • by Vitani (1219376)
      I do wonder ... would format shifting a DRM'd video to xvid be legal? I guess we'll have to wait for more detail of this law to find out
      • I don't know, but I plan on writing to my MP to ask that he ensures that cracking DRM for interoperability is expressly permitted. I'll also propose that you get a choice of DRM xor legal protection under copyright law, but not both, but I doubt that will fly.
        • Good luck but neither are going to come about. I think it's more likely that producers will ultimately give up on DRM than a law is passed allowing us to bypass it for our own personal use.

          • Well, I intend to point out the innovation that DRM on DVDs has held back by comparing the proliferation of portable music players and MP3 jukebox systems to the complete lack of any equivalent for DVDs, and cite the case in the USA where a company that did produce a ripped-DVD jukebox was forced to stop selling them over DMCA violations.
      • by jonbryce (703250)

        It would appear that format shifting a DVD to m4v to watch it on an iDevice will be legal, so yes.

  • I thought the reason this was illegal was because ripping (almost all) commercial DVDs involved breaking CSS? Will this make circumventing such crappy DRM legal then?
    • by Nursie (632944)

      Unlikely, that'll still be covered by the EUCD or other bullshit law.

      This is just catching up to the state of the art of the mid 90s, when people started (perfectly reasonably) ripping unencrypted cds to their hard drives. These people are now no longer criminals.

      Never let it be said that the UK is not at the forefront of technology!

      There was a case of a (pretty high-end) product that copied cds to a drive so that they could be played in different rooms a little while back, that was made to carry a notice o

      • by itsdapead (734413)

        This is just catching up to the state of the art of the mid 90s, when people started (perfectly reasonably) ripping unencrypted cds to their hard drives.

        Make that the mid 70s when people not unreasonably started taping their vinyl LPs to compact casettes to play in the car...

        There was a case of a (pretty high-end) product that copied cds to a drive so that they could be played in different rooms a little while back

        Actually, the problem there is that the manufacturer violated "don't ask, don't tell" by explicitly suggesting in their advert that people could use it to rip their entire CD collection, and some curtain-twitcher complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (the advertising industry self-regulatory body) who then had no legal choice other than banning the ad.

      • by GauteL (29207)

        "This is just catching up to the state of the art of the mid 90s, when people started (perfectly reasonably) ripping unencrypted cds to their hard drives. These people are now no longer criminals."

        Just to nit pick. They are making the action legal in the future. However all of us that have done so in the past and might well do so again before the law comes into effect are still filthy criminals. We broke the law and we could technically still be arrested and prosecuted for it even after the law comes into e

        • by Shimbo (100005)

          Just to nit pick. They are making the action legal in the future. However all of us that have done so in the past and might well do so again before the law comes into effect are still filthy criminals. We broke the law and we could technically still be arrested and prosecuted for it even after the law comes into effect.

          Last time I looked, ripping for personal use was a civil matter.

        • by VJ42 (860241) *

          "This is just catching up to the state of the art of the mid 90s, when people started (perfectly reasonably) ripping unencrypted cds to their hard drives. These people are now no longer criminals."

          Just to nit pick. They are making the action legal in the future. However all of us that have done so in the past and might well do so again before the law comes into effect are still filthy criminals. We broke the law and we could technically still be arrested and prosecuted for it even after the law comes into effect.

          Not really, this is a civil matter so you'd have to be sued by the BPI (UK equivilent of RIAA) - and even they think that format shifting should be legal: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/apple/7299505/Millions-of-iPod-fans-breaking-law-by-copying-CDs.html [telegraph.co.uk]
          Note the last paragraph " we have never taken any action against consumers who rip CDs to computers or portable music players. Nonetheless, we do believe it would be better for personal CD ripping to be legal and the industry has made proposals to G

  • by thej1nx (763573) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @05:27AM (#36969868)
    Okay, I am curious. How does this matter in the long run? As per the US-UK extradition treaty, US laws trump UK laws anyways. If it is illegal in USA, a UK citizen can get arrested and extradited regardless. And considering the kind of laws RIAA/MPAA lobbying has managed to get passed("economic terrorism"), it will be eventually illegal, once RIAA does gets around to getting a rider attached to some important bill to get fair-use rights eroded. And at that point, the treaty means that it will be illegal in UK as well for all practical purposes automatically. Or am I misinterpreting this somehow?
    • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @05:38AM (#36969906)

      While the extradition treaty is a bit shit, your understanding of it is far too simplistic, and that is dangerous in itself - no UK citizen has yet been extradited for carrying out something legal in the UK that is illegal in the US. All examples of usage of the extradition has been where the act has been illegal in both countries, *and* the US has been able to show that some of the act was carried out in the US.

    • by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @05:51AM (#36969978) Homepage

      They're talking about repealing the extradition treaty as well (cite) [telegraph.co.uk].

      The treaty was originally only for "terrorists" but as usual the USA has been abusing it for their own purposes

    • Ignoring the other issues with your theory people are bringing up, it's not illegal to format shift in the US. It's illegal to crack CSS in order to rip DVDs to your hard drive (thanks to the DCMA), but that's still illegal in the UK under something called EUCD apparently. At least according to comments above yours. So this is actually an instance where UK law is simply catching up to US law, not going beyond it.

      • by thej1nx (763573)
        You should have read the comment properly. There was an implicit acknowledgement that yes, ripping content you own comes under fair usage and is not illegal in US.. for NOW. I had merely raised a "yet". Considering the other insane laws RIAA has managed to pass, on what basis are you guaranteeing that RIAA will not be able to get a law to curtail this? There are already bills forbidding lip-syncing to songs for example, on youtube etc. As long as the treaty stands, it doesn't matters what you define to NOT
  • I'm ignorant about UK laws, do you have some kind of breaking-encryption-is-verboten-law?

    Even circumventing completly useless "encryptions" like CSS is afaik not allowed under DMCA, copy prevention systems for audio CDs like intentionally corrupt data are imo similar protected.

    Does the format shifting law explicitly include that the original has to be unencrypted?

    • by pstorry (47673) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @05:39AM (#36969914) Homepage

      No, we just have copyright laws that have no concept of fair use.

      Therefore we can't time or format shift, can't use copyrighted material in parodies or for other works without getting permission from the copyright holder, and so forth.

      Nobody ever prosecuted anyone on these issues unless it was blatantly criminal activity (e.g. selling dodgy copies on a market stall). But ignorance of the law is no excuse, and under these laws about 95% of all UK citizens are criminals. I doubt you'll find anyone alive since the 80's that hasn't copied music to tape for listening in a car/walkman, recorded something to videotape for later viewing, ripped music from a CD as an MP3/AAC file, and so forth. It's just become one of those laws that's there but nobody cares about.

      I've not checked the proposed changes, but I suspect that it's a fairly broad - and long overdue - attempt to introduce a more US-like set of exceptions. I doubt that we will be allowed to legally circumvent DRM, though - that would be a step too far for the corporate lobbyists.

      People are just reporting the "legal to copy a CD" thing because it's attention grabbing. Most readers will look at the headline and wonder what it's on about, as they didn't know it was illegal...

      • by Tim C (15259)

        Therefore we can't time or format shift

        Format shifting is illegal, which is utterly ridiculous, however time shifting is explicitly legal [copyrightservice.co.uk] (see section 8).

        • by pbhj (607776)

          >however time shifting is explicitly legal [

          Unless you watch it twice or simply keep a copy beyond the first viewing.

          Destroy that old Red Dwarf you taped off BBC2 now you tortuous infringer!!

      • by Xest (935314)

        "No, we just have copyright laws that have no concept of fair use."

        This is an often repeated myth, and is simply not true. Numerous exceptions including time shifting exist in UK law already

        See here to get it straight from the horse's mouth:

        http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/copy/c-other/c-exception.htm [ipo.gov.uk]

        What is changing is that format shifting, and parody works are being added to the existing list of things like time shifting, and research or review work.

      • Therefore we can't time or format shift, can't use copyrighted material in parodies or for other works without getting permission from the copyright holder, and so forth.

        Time shifting and format shifting doesn't fall under "fair use" in the US either. There is a huge difference between what you and I would consider fair (anything that doesn't hurt the copyright holder) and what is "fair use" according to copyright law. (Just occurred to me that the copyright holder may feel very much hurt by a parody of his works, but it is still "fair use").

    • by xaxa (988988)

      I'm ignorant about UK laws, do you have some kind of breaking-encryption-is-verboten-law?

      I didn't know, but Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003 [wikipedia.org] seems to be the relevant law.

      IANAL. It seems to be illegal to break encryption for commercial reasons, I'm not sure about non-commercial reasons. But if the encryption prevents things you're allowed to do (so, soon format shifting...?) then there must be a way round that.

      • by GauteL (29207)

        "But if the encryption prevents things you're allowed to do (so, soon format shifting...?) then there must be a way round that."

        Not really. Being "allowed" to do something does not mean you have a right to do so. This is also a common misconception regarding the US Fair Use doctrine. Fair Use is not a right, but it is a defence you can use in a case against you.

        The difference may seem subtle, but if it was "a right", then companies wouldn't be allowed to use encryption to stop you from exercising your right

        • by xaxa (988988) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @06:11AM (#36970072)

          "But if the encryption prevents things you're allowed to do (so, soon format shifting...?) then there must be a way round that."

          Not really. Being "allowed" to do something does not mean you have a right to do so. This is also a common misconception regarding the US Fair Use doctrine. Fair Use is not a right, but it is a defence you can use in a case against you.

          I can't really add anything beyond just copying out the bit of the Wikipedia:

          The new section 296ZE creates a remedy via complaint to the Secretary of State if a technical device or measure prevents a person or group of people from carrying out a permitted act with relation to the work. The Secretary of State may issue a direction to the owner of the copyright to take such measures as are necessary to enable the permitted act to be carried out. The breach of such a direction is actionable as a breach of statutory duty.

          and the relevant section of the act [legislation.gov.uk].

          The law itself is far too confusing.

        • This post should be modded up.

        • This is also a common misconception regarding the US Fair Use doctrine. Fair Use is not a right, but it is a defence you can use in a case against you.

          In Eldred v. Ashcroft (2003), the U.S. Supreme Court held that there are a few things keeping the exclusive rights granted to authors from violating the constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press. Expiry is not one of them, but fair use is.

  • Private copy and tax (Score:4, Interesting)

    by alex67500 (1609333) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @05:51AM (#36969976)

    In France, private copy was always legal, but the fact that it stayed legal for so long is because "private copy tax" was introduced on all storage media (blank CDs/DVDs, memory cards, hard drives). This tax is per MB, and has never been updated, which means that you sometimes pay more tax on a new hard drive than the drive is worth.

    Hopefully it won't get like that in the UK...

    • by zzyzyx (1382375)

      Actually it is an European law, and each country decides how much the tax should be. It is highest in France than in any other European country. For example, the tax on a blank DVD is 1.2€, and 20€ for a 1TB external hard drive. Nearly anything that can store audio is taxed, from audio cassettes to car GPS. It is not actually a tax in the sense that it is not contributed to the community but instead directly to the local equivalent of the RIAA. The tax amount is established by a committee composed

    • by pbhj (607776)

      Actually it used to be that "audio" CDs were charged more than data CDs in order to apply just this sort of "private copy tax".

      I don't think it was formalised in anyway, it's just that the main media producers also owned the [blank] CD production companies.

    • At least you get to copy the files. In the US, you have to pay the music copy tax on blank audio discs but you still don't get to copy the music.
  • This is something that Labour went out of their way to keep illegal during the last copyright review - hopefully this helps show that while the Conservatives are evil amoral bastards, at least they're not quite so crazily desperate to set up a police state (by criminalising things that everyone does AND trying to remove the right to a jury trial / destroying the idea of double jeopardy)
  • With such a measure, the average Joe will claim "format shifting" each time he makes a copy for himself, his friends, his mates.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Format shifting and distribution are 2 different things.

  • After all being amoral is what copyright is all about.

  • As is evident in Canada, where we are about to receive an amendment to copyright that although it explicitly endorses private copying, format and time shifting, and numerous other fair use activities, at the same time it suspends *ALL* of those privileges under the sole condition that the work is protected by any form of digital lock, in addition to prohibiting the sale, creation, or importing of any tools which do not have any significant use outside than defeating such locks, creating additional incentiv

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