The UK’s proposed new piracy laws: the good news and the bad news

The good news: changing the format of legal music – eg ripping your CDs to MP3 – will become legal.

The bad news: under existing copyright legislation, it’s illegal to bypass “technical protection measures”, ie. copy protection. I’ve seen nothing suggesting the “go ahead, rip your CDs” changes will address that at all, or that the proposed new laws will also apply to DVDs or digital downloads (which, of course, are copy-protected to the hilt). Can anyone clarify? My gut feeling is that the law saying you can’t bypass copy protection will carry more weight than the one letting you rip CDs to MP3.

The other bad news: beefed-up anti-piracy powers will make deliberate distribution of copyrighted works punishable by up to 10 years in jail. Those powers are aimed at people involved in “distribution (or receipt of)”, which means the penalties apply to downloading as well as uploading.

In happier news, EMI’s experimenting with DRM-free MP3s rather than crippled ones. It’s partly because of the balkanisation of music stores, and partly because even record companies realise that DRM sucks…