Monday, August 12, 2002

NOTEBOOKS OUT, BIDEN: While you sit there drawing black rings round CDs to be able to make a passable fist of getting tracks off your album onto your computer, you might want to imagine a future where you actually are breaking the law doing this. This week's Need To Know focuses heavily on the forthcoming European and British legislation that seeks to reverse the concept of the consumer being king. Pretty much the sort of laws you'd expect to be made if whoever is running Vivendi this afternoon had seized power in a bloodless coup last week, you no longer would have the right to use the record you pay for in the ways you choose. Buying a CD would be taken as an agreement that you will only use the thing in ways defined by the copyright holder - so attempting to fix it to work on your PC's CD tray would be an offence on a par with copying the album and flogging it in Camden market. For those of you who are already thinking of using the European Copyright Directive as a handy stick to beat the 'loss of soveriegnty' drum with, hold fast a mo: the directive is pretty mean and on the side of the corporations. But the British legislation that the Blair government is planning on bringing forward to implement the directive is even worse - not only has a timetable been set that would challenge Roger Black to keep up (into law by Christmas), but in the interests of "efficiency" a lot of the Euro provisions have been dumped - such as the sort that might give fair use defences to us lot, the people whose money are funding these corporations in the first place.
Of course, if it's in a Queens Speech during a war, it'll get even less attention than they're clearly hoping for. Don't let them get away with it. The Record Companies have the right to stop people ripping them off - I don't think anyone would argue against that. What they don't have the right to do is start to insist how you use their products once you've paid for them. Time to start campaigning.

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