MP3 Laws

  andykeyes 16:58 29 Jul 2004
Locked

I am trying to find out some information on the laws associated with ripping music and would appreciate any information from yourselves as the laws appear to be confusing. In the UK is it legal to copy a CD into MP3 for personal use in the home? i.e ripping. This is a service that all digital music software provides including the one that PC Advisor provided recently in the issue named Musicmatch'. If this is not legal then how come these software providers provide such a blatant service for no other use? And also, are our laws here in the UK different to the US where I believe it is legal to create a private back-up of your music from CD (for instance, into MP3)?

  Forum Editor 17:59 29 Jul 2004

and for the record, here's the information you wanted:

Q. In the UK is it legal to copy a CD into MP3 for personal use in the home?

A. Technically, no. Any copying of a CD is technically an infringement of the copyright. Having said that, you are unlikely to end up in Belmarsh prison if you make a copy for your own use. The fact that your copy is in a different format is neither here nor there - it's the act of copying that's illegal.

Q. If this is not legal then how come these software providers provide such a blatant service for no other use?

A. It isn't illegal to provide the means of copying - it's the copying itself. It's illegal to poison someone, but perfectly legal to manufacture poisonous substances.

Q. ....are our laws here in the UK different to the US where I believe it is legal to create a private back-up of your music from CD (for instance, into MP3)?

A. You're referring to what is called "fair use" but you'rfe wrong in your belief that it's legal to make a backup copy in America. The American courts have long recognised that it may be perfectly legal to copy part (or all) of a copyrighted work under certain conditions. This has become known as 'fair use' and it's not a right enshrined in law - it's a defence in the event of a prosecution. For the defense of fair use to succeed it has long been generally accepted that you must demonstrate that your copy was for one of the following purposes: criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, research and parodies.

These definitions were further expanded by a Supreme court ruling (in 1984) that taping a TV programme so you could view it later was a 'fair use'.

Many American lawyers hold the view that ripping a CD into MP3 files (changing the format) and burning a copy of a CD so you can have a spare for your own use are both examples of 'fair use'. I should stress that this does not have the force of law, and each case is decided on its merits. In the UK we do not have the concept of fair use, and our copyright law was further strengthened by the Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003. The position with regard to UK copyright is clear - you (as a private individual) may not legally make a copy of a copyrighted music CD for any purpose, or in any format.

  GibsonSt19 23:46 06 Aug 2004

Do all these manufacturers selling us MP3 players and the like, expect us to sit there looking at our shiny new, but unusable, gadgetry?

  Forum Editor 00:20 07 Aug 2004

they expect you to use them for playing MP3 tracks. You can obtain these quite legally from various web sites, such as

click here


and

click here

and

click here

There are lots more - just go out there and search.

  georgemac 13:11 07 Aug 2004

so if you buy a legal mp3 track from the web, it is also illegal to change the format and burn it onto cd to play on your hi-fi or in the car?

if this is the case the consumer cannot win, unless you buy a hi-fi or surround system & car stereo that plays mp3 as well as cd.

many people will not buy mp3 because of the lower quality although personally I cannot tell the difference.

  Forum Editor 13:46 07 Aug 2004

Technically, yes.

Lots of people do it though, and they aren't prosecuted because:-

a) nobody knows

b) The copyright holder isn't going to prosecute individuals who make a single copy for personal use. It simply wouldn't happen.

  Dorsai 14:36 07 Aug 2004

So what this really means is that it is about time the british legal system, and the copyright laws were changed to include a 'fair use' clause, as they have in USA.

also,

"It's illegal to poison someone, but perfectly legal to manufacture poisonous substances. "

Yes, tru

But it may not be legal to sell it. try and buy some mustard gas at the local chemist, or perhaps some morphine. see what i mean?

  pcwhizz 14:39 07 Aug 2004

the law are really after the real thiefs.

The people that go on the market and sell hundereds of copies of there copyrighted music that they have downloaded illegally off P2P networks.

making a backup of a CD for ourseleves is maybe not legimate but u can hardly say im a criminal for transferin a few songs off my original albums to my mp3 player so i dnt have to take my original disks with my cd player on a weekend out with me.

After speending hundreds of pounds on original cd's im not going to risk losing them on a weekend out.

So hey, for once i say the americans are right. A fair use policy is always the best way as sometimes straight rules dont make sense in certain circumstances.

  Lead 05:39 09 Aug 2004

Assuming you're not writing a paper on the subject and just want to know out of concern for possibly breaking the law, then I wouldn't worry about it. Like everyone has already said, making copies is breaking the law. But unless you start doing it on a grand scale and making money, you're not going to get in trouble. So just keep recording those TV programmes, copying CDs to your PC, then to your MP3 player and backing up your priceless LP collection...

I do find it ironic that you can be sold the tools to break the law, then people are still surprised that someone actually uses them. (Please don't extend this arguement and flame me by saying things like, 'Well should be ban the sale of Baseball bats then?') Not that I am advocating we do something about it! I can't live without iTunes or my iPod. :)

  Forum Editor 07:42 09 Aug 2004

to get away from this "why do manufacturers sell us the means to copy?" question - it doesn't help any debate on the subject, and is yet another example of the "why doesn't someone help me run my life?" culture. Each one of us is supposed to be a responsible person - able to make rational decisions about what we will, or will not do, without constantly looking for someone else to nanny us through the day.

Leave all that behind, and concentrate on the real issues here - do we as a society want to provide the creators of original works with some kind of legal protection - preventing others from simply taking that work without paying? If the answer is 'yes' (and I fail to see how any right-minded person could say otherwise) then it's up to us to come up with a workable law that does just that - works. It could be done, anything can be done, all it needs is the will and the cooperation of the music loving public plus the understanding of the music publishers. Between consumers and publishers there has to be some common ground - find it and you'll find the answer to copyright theft.

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