Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Major labels lose bid to outlaw CD ripping in Germany

Back in 2003, Germany introduced a law which - quite sensibly - enshrined the principle that if you buy a CD, you can do with it such things as are necessary to enable you to enjoy your property. Making a copy to play in the car, putting the files onto your computer. That sort of thing.

As if determined to waste money on court cases designed to prove their dunerheaded greed, the RIAA labels have been trying to have the law struck out.

The attempt has been thrown out on a technical point - the music industry should have raised its objections in 2004, under German law. I don't think anyone is going be surprised it's taken the labels half a decade to work out how they're going to respond to a new development.

To be fair, their contention was that the law was repeated in a 2008 bill, which they claimed made it 'new' legislation. From an industry which thinks sticking a couple of video tracks on the end of an album makes something a new album, that's not surprising.

And are they taking their defeat well?

Stefan Michalk, managing director of the association of the German music-industry (BVMI), commented: "The interpretation of the German Federal Constitutional Court is controversial, also among experts of German constitutional law. Before filing the claim we were aware of the risks, but we had to take our chance because the fact of whether private copying is legal or not is of such a big importance for the record business. For us it is still very questionable that the court refused our claim for formal reasons."

Michalk doesn't appear to explain why the record labels are pouring money into trying to have a court rule that their product should be less useful than it already is. At a time when hardly anyone wants to buy CDs, they're pushing a court to criminalise their few remaining customers for doing something that has no real impact on their business at all.

Record labels: People are not going to buy two copies of the same CD just to use them in two different places. If you tell them that copying their own CD for their own personal use is a crime, they might well conclude that you might as well be hung for a lamb, and go straight to the not buying anything stage. Thank the German courts for saving what remains of your business from your own stupid impulses, and move on.

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