Sunday, June 21, 2015

High Court has just turned your iPhone into a crime scene

Remember when back in 2014 the government realised that having a law against people ripping their own CDs to put on digital players was absurd, and tidied up the law?

The High Court has reversed that change, and believes that if you own a CD and wish to listen to the music on your iPhone, you will meekly go online and pay for the thing all over again:

The ruling says that governments can't make exceptions to copyright law without compensating rightsholders for the "harms" from the changes; because the UK government didn't demonstrate that ripping CDs doesn't cause harm to rightsholders, and because it didn't impose a levy to compensate for "harms," the legalisation of ripping (which, incredibly, only took place in the last Parliament) is now invalid.
Yes, lawyers from the Music Industry have convinced judges that when Person A slips Now That's What I Call Music 56 into their drive, if they weren't doing that, they'd be somehow buying the tracks instead.

Obviously, it's a stupid decision, made by a legal system that has apparently never met a person, but it's also a ruling that will be completely ignored. It's not as if prior to 2014 people looked at their pile of CDs, looked at their iPod, and thought "well, if only the law recognised that I own the music and the only distinction is whether the digital playback is instantaneous or later, I could pop those on my device."

And it's probably for the best that the world will ignore this rule - the police force has been so hollowed out under Theresa May's rule that they can barely manage to turn up to a crime in progress, much less pop round on the rumour that someone has put their Clean Bandit single on their Galaxy G4, so it's going to make scofflaws of most of us.

But if the law was applied, the logical behaviour would be to say 'if I have to pay twice, well, screw that. The more flexible choice is to go with digital, so I shall stop buying CDs altogether, and instead go with cheaper digital versions. But hang on, as I'm not buying a physical album I only need to buy the two tracks I really want. Actually, come to that, why am I going to buy anything? I can just use my Spotify account if all I want to do is listen digitally."

Effectively, the big brains of the Music Industry have gone to court to argue that the added value of their premium product be outlawed. Maybe the judges aren't so out of touch - perhaps they've just come up with a smart way to fine an industry for its vexatious lawsuit.

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