Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003

  TOPCAT® 16:47 20 Feb 2004

On page 96 - 'File sharing and the law', issue 105 (April 2004) of the PCA magazine - a Joanne Brook, of the legal firm Manches, outlines her interpretation of these Regulations.

Speaking about downloading music files from peer-to-peer sites she states, under the sub-heading 'How tough is the law?': "The regulation was drafted to close particular loopholes. If I downloaded my Abba album to my iPod, I doubt I'd legally have a issue as I own the original album. But if I then shared the iPod files with others, over the Internet or directly, that would be an issue."

Is she right on this? A concensus of opinion in these forums seems to be that NO copyrighted music can be legally downloaded, unless paid for on appropriate sites, irrespective of whether you own the same music CD or not.

Any enlightening thoughts on this please? Thanks. TC.

  Forum Editor 17:36 20 Feb 2004

My own view - and I'm not a lawyer - is that technically the illegal act occurs when you download the file, regardless of whether you already have a legitimately purchased copy. By downloading the file you commit a breach of the copyright law - you are taking something that is protected, and you aren't paying a copyright licence fee.

It may well end up being the same as if you had made a copy of the CD you already have, but that isn't the point..............or is it?

One of the tests that I've heard applied is this:

If, by making a copy of a CD you already own you are depriving the copyright holder of a licence fee, then yes, you are committing a breach. On the other hand, if your act of copying is simply to provide a spare copy for your archive - in case something goes wrong with the original, then you aren't depriving the owner of a copyright fee, because if you didn't have copying facilities you probably wouldn't go and buy a second copy. You would simply make do with the CD you already have.

If you download a track that you already own on CD, what's the point? Why don't you just copy the CD?

The act of copying is only half the problem - the fact that you can download anything in the first place is because someone else is offering files. That person commits a different breach - that of distributing copyright-protected material. It's all pretty confusing.

  wee eddie 18:27 20 Feb 2004

What is without doubt is that if you pass, in any way or form, a copy of your CD to a third party. You are in breach of copyright.

My reading/interpretation of the law is as follows:

M$ have interpreted this with their Office Software, in their ruling that an individual may use the program on their desktop and laptop, so long as both computers are in the use of an individual.

In other words, no copyright offence occurs as an individual is only able to use their purchase of Office on one computer at a time except when synchronising.

Back to your CD:- If you make a copy of your CD for your own personal use and do not play both the original and your copy at the same time. Then no offence will occur.

  spuds 18:31 20 Feb 2004

Like most laws, you can have two highly competant legal beavers looking at the same thing, and there is a probablity that neither will fully agree on the same article of law. That is why we have the Court of Appeal (;o).

  TOPCAT® 18:54 20 Feb 2004

It is a veritable minefield out there. Some set-in-stone adjudication on the subject agreed by all concerned parties is urgently needed, so as people will know exactly where they stand on this.

I suppose the answer IS there somewhere, enshrined in all the reams of copyright legislation, but not outlined plain enough to avoid confusion or misinterpretation in some legal circles. The law(s), written in plain unadulterated English might just help here, though its use could negate the need for many of the legal profession. TC.

  961 19:05 20 Feb 2004

We have been over this many times and it is probably true to say that every manufacturer of copyright material tweaks his own version of what he will allow.

I wonder if we can agree between ourselves that downloading copyright material is akin to theft but that copying material from an item such as a cd that we already own is ok so long as we do not then provide a copy to anyone else

I am sure some copyright owners will disagree with that but it is clear that they have better things to do than take action against such a person

So where does all this leave my local library who lend out C.D's for a charge? According to the criteria in the above posts, this is depriving the copy right holder of a potential sale.

  wee eddie 12:12 21 Feb 2004

Libraries are registered with the PRS and the PPL. They pay them a fee, which is passed on to writers, performers etc.

  Forum Editor 12:30 21 Feb 2004

although I would modify it slightly - downloading copyright material IS theft.

  961 18:16 21 Feb 2004


  Wilham 20:48 21 Feb 2004

Some of this thread needs tidying. Downloading copyright material may infringe copyright under the law,- to be theft it has to satisfy conditions inappropriate to copyright.
Another point often confusing is that civil law is usually distinct from criminal law. In an earlier thread someone was surprised the police were not interested when they reported someone copying CD's (But Trading Standards might have listened)
Recent changes have unfortunately now had to put parts of the copyright legislation as criminal law, but generally copyright is civil.
This site may tell when you can download...
click here

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