You probably don’t think twice about ripping your CDs to your iTunes collection, indeed it is a feature that has been included from the start and provides users with an easy way of digitising their music collections so that they can free up space and sell CDs. However, whilst you’ve been ripping your CDs all this time, have you considered that it could actually be illegal? Well, under the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Acts, it isn’t legal to copyright the contents of one storage medium to another, meaning that until now transferring the contents of a CD to a hard drive has been illegal – but with the authorities and record labels turning a blind eye to what’s gone on here, no-one has ever been prosecuted for transferring a CD to their computer, phone or music player. The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has announced plans to update the 1998 Act in order to bring it in line with changes in technology.
Making copies for others
Even though the changes will make it legal for you to have a backup copy of media that you own, it will still be illegal for you to make copies of media your friends or family. Further to this, the guidance only applies to CDs meaning that if you are looking to digitise the mass of DVDs that you’ve collected then this is something that might have to wait. Similarly this also means that if you borrow CDs or DVDs from friends or family to copy, then the law won’t look this upon favourably. If you cease to own any CDs that you have digital copies of then the law still stipulates that you will have to delete any other copies that you have because you are no longer the barer of the original form of media. I would think that as technology moves forward and governments accept that physical forms of media are no longer sustainable or favoured by consumers, we should see more changes to allow people to make digital copies of their DVD and Bluray collections.
EU taking a positive stance
The European Union had taken a positive stance on the matter a while back, sanctioning what it refers to as ‘format shifting’; however, the UK government has been rather lax in updating the 20 year old legislation to reflect the huge changes in technology we have seen since the inception of the law in 1988. Some are of the opinion that the current legislation has prevented the establishment of online start-ups in the music sector, but it is hoped that with the IPO updating its guidance to reflect modern technology that we could potentially see new music start-ups flourishing.