Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Good Law to Let Us Copy Music We Already Own; Plan to Ease Rules on Copyright Law Is Still a Minefield: Singer Joss Stone

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Good Law to Let Us Copy Music We Already Own; Plan to Ease Rules on Copyright Law Is Still a Minefield: Singer Joss Stone

Article excerpt

Byline: JOSHUA ROZENBERG

GOVERNMENT plans to permit home copying of music will do more than justbring the law into line with what people think it should be. The reform is arare example of making the law what the public thinks it is already.

It is currently illegal to copy your CD collection onto a computer for ease ofaccess, or so that you can transfer the music onto an iPod. It is equallyillegal to make DVDs of those movies you bought a few years ago on video-tape.If that is all you do, you are not likely to face legal action. But you arestill breaching somebody's copyright.

Many people are surprised to hear this, not least because the technology topermit home copying is readily and lawfully available. Consumers argue thatthey are merely changing the format of their recordings, not sharing them witha wider audience.

Ministers accept this. But there is a broader reason behind their plan to letpeople make copies of works that they legally own. Government is the art of thepossible and format-shifting cannot, in practice, be prevented. Moreover, ifpeople were forced to pay twice for exactly the same music or video, they wouldbe less willing to pay once for a new electronic producta song downloaded from iTunes, for example.

Hence the consultation paper last week from Lord Triesman, who rejoices in thetitle of minister for intellectual quality and property at the Department forInnovation, Universities and Skillsand who is expected to be appointed tomorrow as the first independent chairmanof the Football Association.

He proposed that format-shifting should be permitted only for personal, privateuse. You would not be permitted to sell, give away or share your copy.

Fair enough. But you would also have to destroy the copy if you no longer heldthe originalalthough the Government accepted that this "could be difficult to enforce andbe regarded as impractical or nonsensical by consumers, which would not enhancerespect for the law in this area". …

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