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Media format shifting legalised in the UK, but don't touch the DRM

by Mark Tyson on 31 July 2014, 11:00

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The House of Lords has exempted format shifting from copyright laws. This finally legalises hardcopy media ripping for private use after many years of campaigning from groups including the Open Rights Group and DigitalEurope.

We reported on progress back in 2011, as plans for the government to abolish the laws which prevent UK consumers from format shifting looked to near to completion. Much more recently it was thought that that the new CD ripping rules were supposed to come into force across the board at the beginning of June, writes PC Pro.

The rule was only partially implemented back in June, allowing "disabled people and disability groups [to] make accessible copies of copyright material (eg music, film, books) when no commercial alternative exists". The holdup until today was apparently due to concerns the Lords had over how the new rules would affect the creative industries and the impact on creators' livelihoods.

Even though the changes now allow users to format shift their media content legally, some restrictions are still in place. The new ruling bans consumers from removing DRM or anti-copy technical protections in order to make duplicates of their media/content. However, the relaxation of the rules has been welcomed by digital campaigners.

"Thanks to these changes, the government has taken this significant step towards making copyright law reflect the way we actually use and share content in the digital age. Contrary to what copyright lobbyists claim, updating the law will actually benefit rights holders by ensuring we have a stronger, more legitimate copyright regime," executive director at the Open Rights Group, Jim Killock said.

"This is a victory for copyright reform, but I think all these questions around DRM need to be part of the discussion about copyright reform at the European level, which should be taking place very soon," policy director at the Open Rights Group, Javier Ruiz told PC Pro.

Lord (Michael) Grade, a former BBC chairman and former Chief Executive at Channel 4, doesn't seem to agree with the legalisation of format shifting, "What the Government has failed to understand throughout its deliberations on copyright, since the Hargreaves report, is there is a direct correlation between investment and the investor’s ability to control and police its copyright, to protect that investment and ensure that it gets value for the investment it has made," Grade said during a motion to the House of Lords, reports the Yorkshire Post. Grade added that the Government seems to be encouraging that "there should be a free-for-all, that everything should be made free for the public," before adding that "there is a public interest in that and it will last about five years because at the end of that there will be no more investment in original content."

In recent related news Ford and GM are being sued by the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies (AARC) in the US for the CD ripping to hard drive 'Jukebox' systems in their cars. The suit seeks lost royalties plus punitive damages of $2,500 per vehicle sold with one of these music ripping systems installed.



HEXUS Forums :: 16 Comments

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Even though the changes now allow users to format shift their media content legally, some restrictions are still in place. The new ruling bans consumers from removing DRM or anti-copy technical protections in order to make duplicates of their media/content.
This being the case, what's to stop the record companies from enforcing their status quo by slapping on some "nice" DRM on all CD's? I've excluded films because they come with CSS so the "no breakee the DRM" rule means no legal media shifting for them I guess. So if you want the latest blockbuster on your phone then you'll have to use that "Ultraviolet" copy that some DVD/BD's ship with.

In which case, I don't think I'm particularly impressed by this new freedom, "C-, must try harder" would be my assessment.
Lord (Michael) Grade, a former BBC chairman and former Chief Executive at Channel 4, doesn't seem to agree with the legalisation of format shifting, "What the Government has failed to understand throughout its deliberations on copyright, since the Hargreaves report, is there is a direct correlation between investment and the investor’s ability to control and police its copyright, to protect that investment and ensure that it gets value for the investment it has made,"
Am I missing something here, or is Lord Mike sitting on his head (being polite)?

Surely if I make use of the new "freedom" and format-shift a CD I have bought to AAC to listen on my iPod then there's no copyright implications. On the other hand if I borrow someone else's CD and copy it then I'm breaching copyright - NOT merely format-shifting - so I can presumably be sued. So what is that overstuffed prat whittling on about?

Personally I don't think is going to make ANY difference to me, I'll continue to rip my CD's to a digital format and use them on my various devices. I'll also continue to use ****** to de-CSS my DVD's so I can format shift them to tablet etc. And in both cases I'll be retaining the "originals", so the content sellers will not have made ANY loss by my actions.
In recent related news Ford and GM are being sued by the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies (AARC) in the US for the CD ripping to hard drive 'Jukebox' systems in their cars. The suit seeks lost royalties plus punitive damages of $2,500 per vehicle sold with one of these music ripping systems installed.
That's the US legal system for you - the only jurisprudence system where common-sense is uncommon! I'll give a fairly sizable bet that the line the AARC push is "oh my lord, please think of the poor artists that these evil car makers are forcing onto the breadline" rather than the truth ("oh my lord, that means that the record industry execs won't be able to afford their fourth five-star holiday this year").

And here's a second thought about this - how exactly are they going to evaluate the "lost royalties"? The only real way I can see is to recall ALL the cars with these systems on board and inventory their hard-disk contents (unless there's someway of doing that remotely of course). Seeing as that's unlikely I guess they'll fall back to the usual method ... wet finger in the air and triple the figure you first thought of.
I wish we could outlaw DRM. It makes it a real pain to watch movies and tv shows on my different devices, if I buy something on the iTunes I can't play it on my PS4, if I buy a video on my Xbox One then I can't view it on my iPad. I don't want to buy it twice, I want to access my media on any device.
So apart from CDs and the odd budget DVD, you still can't really touch your recent DVD/Bluray collection as they have copy protection systems on them?
Tens of thousands of man hours consumed to give us the right to do something nobody has done in the past 5 years.
wasabi
Tens of thousands of man hours consumed to give us the right to do something nobody has done in the past 5 years.

Nobody? With cars hardly coming with CD players these days ripping my music onto SD card etc. will be very handy. Ditto if I want it on my photo/mp3 player etc.