Copyright law in England and Wales

  Wilham 13:15 15 Dec 2004

In recent threads I've been tempted to have a go at the non-distinction between The Criminal and The Civil Law in England and Wales.

I've just been reading click here and don't want to highjack or single out that thread so I'll set out my grumble here.

I too often see private copying CD to MP3 and suchlike referred to as theft. In the context of our laws it isn't and cannot be. (I can expand on this point if anyone wants chapter and verse).
It is infringement of the copy holder's rights.

What difference does it make? Answer: A great deal;- it becomes a civil issue and not a criminal one.

A criminal issue could involve law enforcement inc. police whereas civil dispute is only between the copyright holder and the person alleged to be infringing rights. Recording companies employ organisations to protect their rights, of course, but a case goes to Court before any enforcement authority is involved.

I do get out-of-date and am open to correction. I know in recent years a small section has been added to put part of Copyright Acts as criminal, (re child abuse), and case exception always seem to crop up in Military, Maritime, ...and other law books. I don't see any of this applying to the topic in our forum threads.

"What's it all about, then?" says someone.

Well the private CD to MP3 mover may not be guilty in law if he has already paid a royalty to listen to that performance from his CD, at least not until it has been tested in Court.

I don't agree young folk being told it's OK to go ahead and copy, but to do so surreptitiously because " are certainly breaking the law". Nor do I like the confusion between Civil and Criminal in these contexts. It's murky because of misunderstanding the rules.

  Spanglish 13:43 15 Dec 2004

As I understand it , If I have a CD legally obtained ( and therefore pay the Royalties ) I can then transfer that to WMA or MP3 FOR MY OWN USE, the difficulty arises - wether just legally but certainly morally - when someone copies a disc/record/DVD and then 'gives' that to a third party. I have spoken to enforcement officers from FACT and they say that they are not interested in the former, but should the latter be brought to their attention.......they should/would act.

  GANDALF <|:-)> 14:07 15 Dec 2004

Many people get too embroiled in this and start getting rather picky. You buy a CD and the contract which accompanies it and which you agree to by the purchase, clearly states that the copy may not be lent, hired or copied etc., etc. In the States it IS legal to make a 'backup' copy of any CD (software or muzak) but it is NOT here. However and read this carefully, the record companies etc. do not seem to have a problem with people copying THEIR collection onto MP3's or CD's to play in the car and anyone citing this as breaking the law is being ultra-picky and trying to deflect from the real problem.

The problem lies when you copy something that you have not purchased or more specifically, paid royalties on .....or even worse, when you are flogging copyright material and profiting from the sale. This is stealing and no amount of hippy-type arguments (sound is free, man) will change it. It might only be a quid or two but it is still theft as you are financially benefiting from copyright material. Recording your CD's for use in the car provides no financial benefit from copyright material.

The old chestnut 'well if the CD's were cheaper I would buy them' is a strawman argument and is clutching at straws. In 1972 LP's were about £3, at least my copy of Atomic Rooster 'death walks behind you' and Jethro Tull's 'Benefit' were. A current chart CD can easily be bought for around £10 and this is why I get tired of people bleating on about the 'extortionate cost of CDs..they now cost the price of 50 fags. I don't recall many bleating about the price of LPs in '72. Curiously a ticket to see Newcastle in 1972 was £2.25 and is now around £30............

I own a lot of copyright material and if I ever caught any losers using it without my permission i.e. coughing up the cash, I would chin them into next year and then sue them until they squeaked. The ones who moan about the rules copyright tend never to own any copyright material; if they did they would shut up pronto. Like everything in life if you cannot afford it - tough.

6 weeks ago I was shown part of an optically perfect DVD copy of 'I Robot' that was purchased in the UK for £2, sans cover. It was only legally released today. If anyone on this forum owned the copyright to the film they would be well-cheesed off I bet and this is why record and film companies are getting well miffed.


  Wilham 14:51 15 Dec 2004

Spanglish: FACT makes interesting reading... click here ,thanks. The reaction you got was to be expected.

Hard as it may seem to the composers, performers et al, the ball is in their court (sorry) and it's up to them to produce answers. Just look at the no. of ipods and similar ( some 60GB) now in fashion and imagine the royalties required to fill that lot. Younsters will collect tracks like we oldies collected stamps.

Most would agree the law should be both understandable and enforceable. Bit short on both at the moment.

GANDALF, you shoot from the hip and are ever interesting, but not always to be taken literally. For instance, would you really take a copyright case to court,- just like that? Well, perhaps, but I suggest with reasons from heart rather than head,- from tales of victims past.

  GANDALF <|:-)> 15:43 15 Dec 2004

'would you really take a copyright case to court'...I have done on several occassions although each one was sorted out of court. My copyright material is my hard earned pension. Would you take someone to court if they stole some of your pension?


  It's Me 16:27 15 Dec 2004

How right you are. I agree entirely.

I am heartly fed up with people wanting stuff for half price, or better still, for nowt, and trying to make a nonsence of the illegality of it as a reason for acting illegally. Or, if they get it cheaper than a comparative product, bleating about the lack of quality.

Rant over :))

  pj123 17:35 15 Dec 2004

As a professional photographer many of my photographs are published around the world. Normally I am paid every time a photo gets published. Occasionally I see a photo of mine in a publication that I have not received payment for. If I contact them and tell them that the Copyright is mine they usually pay up (but they insist that they got the photo from an agency and assume payment is automatic). Obviously, there may be many photo's of mine being published somewhere that I don't know about, but, that's life. I think it's a 50/50 situation. You win some, you lose some.

  Wilham 18:01 15 Dec 2004

GANDALF, if the cases were settled out-of-court then you haven't actually taken anyone to court?

I grant you have a point in what you did.

  GANDALF <|:-)> 18:47 15 Dec 2004

You know what I mean.


  Dorsai 19:10 15 Dec 2004

I have to agree, an item that is copyright, is in a way, the property of the copyright holder, and as such, they deserve to be paid if it is used.

As for the 'bleeting' on about the cost of CD's.

I am going to 'Bleet'

If i see an item for sale that is worth, in my eyes, about 60p, on sale for £10.99, i will not buy it.

I will say to anyone who asks

"why are you not buying it?"

"is is overpriced".

But if i think it is only worth 60p, i don't find it worth copying either.

So i have no throwaway modern music. It is *overpriced*.

but i have no objection to paying £15.99 for a good CD that i like.

Overpriced is a relative term. For one preson a £65 designer T-shirt is good value, for the next £65 for a T-shirt is a rip-off.

  DrScott 19:53 15 Dec 2004

I'm always quite interested about copyright because working in a scientific field, I get no money at all for any research findings. Indeed a good deal of science in non-profit making. The reward instead is academic and the respect of your peers... though the more research you do the more likely you are to get a better paid job / grant. If someone copies your papers and claims the work as their own, it is galling but rarely financially deleterious.

Given that a good deal of science (and I mean proper science, not that peddled by drug companies) has little direct financial reward, is it not unreasonable to expect musicians etc. to occasionally create for similar non-financial reasons?

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