The law on copying music

  Mr A! 13:14 25 Aug 2004

I can't seem to understand the law on copying music as many sources which i have read from state different things. I would like to know the law on the following two questions:

1) Can I copy a CD for my personal use. (To play on my stereo or walkman)

2) I am starting to build a media PC which i can take to disco's to play music. Can I copy music from a CD which I have bought to the PC to play? (I know I can buy a CD and play it on a dj system).

Thanks in Advanced

  Urotsukidoji 14:15 25 Aug 2004

as i understand it you can make 1 copy of anything AS LONG AS IT IS FOR YOUR OWN PERSONAL USE, and not for public broadcast. that goes for vinyl, tapes, cd's books etc.

I think you would be pushing your luck to copy music for use as a dj, as that can, and probably would be deemed as breaking copyright laws, as in public performance.

best speak to the CAB/ solicitor about it

  TomJerry 14:46 25 Aug 2004

Question 1: Copy is any format is not allowed. You will find this on CD cover. But, big brother maynot after you if you only make one copy for your own personal use.

Question 2: Definitely NOT, big brother may after you. CDs you bought can only use at home for your own use. Take CD (even original) to a club to play is difinitely against law. Again, you cam find this on CD covers.

  fishyfingers 15:21 25 Aug 2004

That brings a curious question then (at least in my mind) how do dj's get away with buying cd's and playing them in a club? Do they have to register or get a licence?


D.J's and others, including public places such as shops have to get a licence from a body such as The Performing Rights Society.You have to keep a record of what you have played, and royalties are charged accordingly.

  Wilham 15:42 25 Aug 2004

I think Urotsukidoji is correct on Q1 and TomJerry is right on Q2

Infringement of Copyright until recent years came entirely under Civil Law. Music will still be in this category, so clauses in the Copyright Acts (Last ammendments 2003 ?) allowing exceptions for private study will apply.
If someone borrows your private CD's and flogs copies, then that is a different matter, and in this case you share some responsibility for any losses plus expenses to the copyright owner.

Q2 Playing recorded music at a disco comes under Performing Rights Acts, not copyright, and brings in a string of associated regulations, including some under criminal law.

  Forum Editor 16:52 25 Aug 2004

is both very clear and slightly obscure when it comes to question 1.

The clear part is that technically you may not reproduce a copyright-protected music CD for any purpose whatsoever - even as a backup/archive copy for your own use.

The obscure part is that you are not likely to come to any harm if you do it - provided the copy is for your use only, and will not be lent or given to anyone else. Be aware that this isn't the law, it's a common practice which is largely tolerated by the copyright holders.

As far as question 2 isa concerned the answer's a lot easier, and has been given by some of the other forum members - you may not use copyright-protected CDs for public performances unless you pay a fee, based on a sliding scale, to the Performing Rights Society - in essence the more you play the more you pay. Don't be tempted to ignore the PRS fee - the society is backed by an act of Parliament, and penalties for failure to register and pay can be very severe indeed.

  Stuartli 18:00 25 Aug 2004

Full information on music copyright, including the length of time that copyright is protected depending on circumstances:

click here

  wee eddie 18:04 25 Aug 2004

PRS pays a fee to the writer

Phonographic Performance License distribute their fees to the performers. Session Musicians, Members of the Orchestra etc.

Most Places of Entertainment, Pubs, Hotels, and Halls have both Licenses.

At private parties on private premises, all those guests are actually members of the public. So to play to them you will need both licenses, as I know to my expense.

  Dorsai 19:39 25 Aug 2004

Does that actuall mean i, in theory at least, need a licence to play a Cd i have bought to a friend who calls round to listen to it? He is also, after all, a member of the public, as we all are.

I realise i stand virtually no chance of getting caught doing it though..

Or just that the private part of the party you mention was more of a 'i am holding a party, if you wanna come, buy a ticket' type of party..

  Wilham 20:05 25 Aug 2004

I don't disagree with FE on Q1, but I suggest his sentence "Be aware that this isn't the law, it's a common practice which is largely tolerated by the copyright holders." should not imply it is through copyright owners' magnanimity.

This forum has many very bright members.
Consider this...
The latest EU changes to our copyright laws have indeed tightened the fair play/private study clauses in UK copyright laws,- effective I believe from spring 2004. But this part of the law is still civil, not criminal.

Say Mr A! pays £10 for a CD, of which, perhaps, £2 is royalty to the copyright owner. This grants
Mr A! permission to play the CD to himself ad lib.
He makes a back-up copy.
Copyright owner sues for £2 for lost royalty on the back-up. (As a test case, of course)
Mr A! defends on grounds he cannot be charged twice for something he already has paid for.
Court awards copyright owner zero compensation and hence no costs.

Does this throw more light on the answer to Q1?

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