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…

12 thoughts on “The UK’s proposed new piracy laws: the good news and the bad news

  1. Rob says:

    Having just turned the half century, and having spent a good half of that time raising a family with my young lady! You’ll appreciate I’ve not had a great deal of time or free cash to indulge in 78’s, singles, CD’s or downloads. However the worm has turned – and a few short years ago I ripped what few CD’s I have to my PC (I dumped all the cassettes: out of date technology) Happy days I could listen to the good tracks and delete the nonsense and vowed to buy a library of golden oldies etc.
    Suddenly a huge swathe of my hard earned music, due to some techno wizardry, can’t be played on my laptop anymore. I’ve been pointed to “get a license” for my own music copies but to no avail. Despite my normally mild manner I’m tearing my hair out . What the blue blazes is going on?!!
    yours Rob

    Ps. sorry about that I’ll go and take a cold shower now.

  2. Gary says:

    Rob, there is a tool that can remove the DRM from your tracks – it’s called FairUse4WM, although there may be others. As far as I know it’s pretty straightforward to use.

  3. mupwangle says:

    And I reckon that it is perfectly legal to do since you put the DRM on the tracks yourself by using Windows Media to rip them so you’re removing your own DRM.

  4. Gary says:

    Indeed. Although if we’re going to be pedantic here, it’s actually illegal to rip CDs etc and then get shot of the discs, cassettes or whatever. Although I can’t imagine any legal action on that basis happening, let alone succeeding.

  5. Rob says:

    Thanks for that Gary – Easy enough to use as you say, unfortunately still won,t give me access. Maybe because I moved the library from itunes to Mediamonkey or perhaps because I plugged a back up hard drive into my laptop and its copied to that – who knows not me that’s for sure. Thanks anyway, gave me a glimmer of hope – cheers. Rob

  6. Gary says:

    Sorry, I assumed it was Windows Media. If it’s itunes you need a different tool – JHymn.

  7. Rob says:

    Ps I thought I could rip them again if I used a different format but that didn’t seem to work either. I tried MP3 rather than wma. any thoughts would be welcome. Rob

  8. Gary says:

    Hmmm. If it’s WMA, do you still have a PC on which they work okay? If you do, you might be able to burn them as an audio CD and then re-rip them as unprotected files. Failing that it might be worth looking for packages such as advanced wma workshop (although I don’t know if it works, or if it costs money). A search on a site such as CDfreaks might come up with some alternative ideas too.

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