UK Finally Changes Copyright Law To Allow Private Copies, But Music Industry Says It May Challenge Move In The Courts

from the one-way-street dept

Three years ago, the UK government published the Hargreaves review of copyright laws in the digital age. As Mike wrote at the time, one of the key recommendations was the introduction of an exception to UK copyright law to allow people to make private copies (pdf):
The Review favours a limited private copying exception which corresponds to what consumers are already doing. As rights holders are well aware of consumers' behaviour in this respect, our view is that the benefit of being able to do this is already factored into the price that rights holders are charging. A limited private copying exception which corresponds to the expectations of buyers and sellers of copyright content, and is therefore already priced into the purchase, will by definition not entail a loss for right holders.

The Government should introduce an exception to allow individuals to make copies for their own and immediate family's use on different media. Rights holders will be free to pursue whatever compensation the market will provide by taking account of consumers' freedom to act in this way and by setting prices accordingly.
As that notes, this is merely legalizing what people are already doing routinely. Moreover, the private copy exception is widely used in other countries. All-in-all, then, this was one of the least-controversial recommendations of the Hargreaves review, and yet it has taken until now to implement it. The Parliamentary debate before its final approval by the House of Lords on 29 July makes an important point about its scope:
The scope of the exception contrasts sharply with personal copying exceptions in other EU countries. Such exceptions often allow copies to be shared with family and friends, meaning that people can acquire copies without paying for them, so these countries have mechanisms designed to compensate creators for any sales lost as a result of the exception. Typically, levies are imposed on recording devices and media, which have to be paid whether or not they are used for private copying. French consumers pay a levy of €15 on top of the price of an MP3 player.
Copyright levies have been discussed many times on Techdirt. The UK government agrees that they are a terrible idea:
The Government do not believe that British consumers would tolerate private copying levies. They are inefficient, bureaucratic and unfair, and disadvantage people who pay for content. That is why the Government's exception is narrow in scope. It will not allow you to give or sell copies to others, and therefore will not lead to lost sales to copyright owners, making the need for a levy unnecessary.
That's because the EU Directive allowing national governments to introduce copyright exceptions stipulates that "rightholders should receive fair compensation to compensate them adequately" for such exceptions, but adds: "In certain situations where the prejudice to the rightholder would be minimal, no obligation for payment may arise." This is what the UK government says is the case here.

But, of course, the maximalists just hate it when copyright is tweaked -- however slightly -- in favor of the public. As far as they are concerned, copyright change is a one-way street that always results in copyright getting longer and stronger. So the following reaction from UK Music, as reported by Out-law.com, was entirely predictable:
"We are disappointed that the private copying exception will be introduced without providing fair compensation for British songwriters, performers and other rights holders within the creative sector. A mechanism for fair compensation is a requirement of European law. In response we are considering our legal options," it added.
The new UK copyright exceptions for parody, quotation and private copying will finally come into force on 1 October. Let's hope they don't get taken away again by an industry that seems to think it has a right to even higher monopoly rents.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    me, Aug 7th, 2014 @ 4:12am

    The Music Industry

    Is a parasitic dinosaur overdue for extinction

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 4:20am

    "The Review favours a limited private copying exception which corresponds to what consumers are already doing.... the benefit of being able to do this is already factored into the price that rights holders are charging"

    That's pretty much all you need to know. The law is essentially unenforceable, and people ignore it anyway. Which they should do, because it's been a known cost of doing business since consumer recording equipment was first available.

    "The Government do not believe that British consumers would tolerate private copying levies."

    Damn right. They already get ripped off left and right, especially if you compare with direct personal imports. Passing a tax to rip them off for stuff they aren't going to buy as well as the stuff they do buy won't go down well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2014 @ 4:30am

    So, does this mean downloading for private use is illegal?

    Or are the greedy industries getting their panties in a bunch because people aren't going to buy new media, but instead format shift say a CD to mp3?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2014 @ 4:30am

    Re:

    s/illegal/legal/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2014 @ 4:40am

    "Rights holders will be free to pursue whatever compensation the market will provide by taking account of consumers' freedom to act in this way and by setting prices accordingly."

    And the rights holders and middlemen will no doubt increase the purchase price of all the CD/DVD/Blu-ray's etc. to the UK public to ensure that they will receive compensation on a private copy of that CD.DVD/Blu-ray etc.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2014 @ 4:47am

    Re:

    "And the rights holders and middlemen will no doubt increase the purchase price of all the CD/DVD/Blu-ray's etc."

    Which will in turn make people buy less and increase the whining of these dinosaurs about 'piracy'.

    Its a never ending cycle with these morons.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2014 @ 4:51am

    "The scope of the exception contrasts sharply with personal copying exceptions in other EU countries. Such exceptions often allow copies to be shared with family and friends, meaning that people can acquire copies without paying for them, so these countries have mechanisms designed to compensate creators for any sales lost as a result of the exception. Typically, levies are imposed on recording devices and media, which have to be paid whether or not they are used for private copying. French consumers pay a levy of €15 on top of the price of an MP3 player."

    Was it not ruled in a court in The Netherlands earlier this year that the copyright levy tax on media (i.e. blank discs etc.) was illegal as it was extortion on people who did not do copying and therefore the copyright levy tax had to be scrapped? This ruling may impact the legality of downloading of copyright in The Netherlands as the copyright levy tax was a form of compensation for the downloading of copyright.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 4:52am

    Re:

    People in the UK already pay a premium for those things, and because they'll often use excuses not to include half the special features, etc. they often get a lower quality product for that price as well.

    But, yeah, all they need to do is raise the price again and they'll magically recoup whatever they imagine they're losing from private copying. They probably believe that, anyway.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    MadAsASnake (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 5:02am

    Re:

    Unlikely - as the recommendation states, a.) buyers already assume they can do this, and b.) sellers already know that is a cost of doing business (not a cost as it happens...). If they increase prices, sales will fall. If they decrease prices sales will increase - look at the amazon / hachette argument to see just how far the copyright cult will go to ignore simple economics.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2014 @ 5:03am

    "Such exceptions often allow copies to be shared with family and friends, meaning that people can acquire copies without paying for them, so these countries have mechanisms designed to compensate creators for any sales lost as a result of the exception."

    Wouldn't it be possible to argue that those exceptions too could be factored into the price? If they are then the "prejudice to the rightholder" would still be minimal, wouldn't it?

    Being too restrictive on private copying seems like a democratic problem to me. Let's say you're a member of a group engaging in citizen journalism, should then copyright stop you from sharing relevant files with each other?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 5:42am

    Re:

    As far as I am aware, that will still be illegal.

    This is just legalising private copying for back up purposes, burning to CD or copying to MP3 player/phone.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2014 @ 5:42am

    Re:

    "Such exceptions often allow copies to be shared with family and friends, meaning that people can acquire copies without paying for them,"

    So that goes the copying/sharing and not paying for them is stealing/theft argument that the copyright maximallists/shills like to throw about.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    justok (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 5:48am

    Well

    Why not set all the laws to music and copyright that? Then, whenever someone tries to apply the laws, they can get sued.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    ThatFatMan (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 6:16am

    When you start fairly compensating the artists you allege to represent, you can come talk to the public about fairness and compensation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    Tim Griffiths (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 7:47am

    Re: Re:

    I think the point is that if you can copy something you already own for private use why does it matter what the source is? If I rip a cd I own or download a copy of it of the end result is the same so why should it matter?

    I mean of course in terms of torrents you also upload which is unquestionably illegal but the question is an increasingly important one and really shows up the issues of using laws centuries old to deal with totally new concepts.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2014 @ 11:16am

    Re: Re:

    It is legalized stealing under compensation from levies. The compensation is the key here and in EUs acquis.

    I really like that they are rattling the legal saber in EU. If they actually win it, it will be quite the Pyrrhic victory since media-locking is almost universally disliked. If they lose it would be quite an ugly precedent for them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Sheogorath (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 12:57pm

    My version

    "I am satisfied that the private copying exception will be introduced while providing fair compensation for songwriters, performers and other rights holders within the creative sector. A mechanism for fair compensation is a requirement of European law, and no levy for no sharing is fair. In response to the fallacious claims of the copyright industry, I am considering my legal options."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 2:35pm

    Re:

    Someone needs to first word this, it absolutely nailed it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 12:37am

    "We are disappointed that the private copying exception will be introduced without providing fair compensation for British songwriters, performers and other rights holders within the creative sector."

    Rubbish. The fair compensation for personal copies is £0.00. The fair compensation has been provided.

    "In response we are considering our legal options"

    Typical. Threaten lawsuits when anything goes the right way, instead of their way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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