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United Kingdom Your Rights Online IT

UK Copyright Reforms Legalize Back-Ups, Protect Parody 68

rastos1 writes A law has come into effect that permits UK citizens to make copies of CDs, MP3s, DVDs, Blu-rays and e-books. Consumers are allowed to keep the duplicates on local storage or in the cloud. While it is legal to make back-ups for personal use, it remains an offence to share the data with friends or family. Users are not allowed to make recordings of streamed music or video from Spotify and Netflix, even if they subscribe to the services. Thirteen years after iTunes launched, it is now legal to use it to rip CDs in the UK. Just as interesting are the ways that the new UK law explicitly, if imperfectly, protects parody.
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UK Copyright Reforms Legalize Back-Ups, Protect Parody

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  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Thursday October 02, 2014 @09:34AM (#48046125)

    This is progress of a sort, though it has been a very long road with many false starts.

    Even so, it's interesting to see what they didn't include. For example, notice that almost none of the changes affect software at all, nor do they help at all with content that is protected by technical measures for DRM purposes.

    In other words, those who want to remain legal are still at the mercy of content providers doing things that may or may not work reliably, may or may not interfere with the normal operation of computers/mobile devices, may or may not cause huge problems with restoring access to purchased content if such devices fail, etc.

    Don't be fooled. A lot of the apparent improvements in this new law are immediately negated by technical measures.

    • No, you and your community are on your own for circumventing technical measures. At least it's not illegal to do so.

      • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Thursday October 02, 2014 @09:55AM (#48046281)

        At least it's not illegal to [circumvent technical measures].

        Yes, it still is. That's the point. Almost all of the theoretical benefits of these changes can immediately be nullified, because all the content provider has to do is apply technical measures and then breaking those measures remains against the law even if the copy would otherwise now be legal.

        • Is it though? I'm not a lawyer, but the BBC article suggests the opposite - that because it explicitly doesn't stop you from circumventing DRM, there will be even more pressure to create DRM that prevents format shifting to protect the bottom line.

          Remember this is the UK, not the US - the DMCA doesn't exist here.

          • That's not how I read the BBC article, but if that is what it meant then it is wrong.

            We have the EUCD here, which in somewhat similar to the DMCA. In fact, it is arguably stricter in this particular area, because it covers not only access control mechanisms but also copy protection mechanisms. The relevant details of the EU directive have been incorporated into UK law for roughly a decade.

            Rightsholders can therefore pursue not only those circumventing such technical measures but also those making or distrib

            • In the UK, any more recent law that contradicts an older one is deemed to be correct. In this case, if this law says you can make backups, and the (older) EUCD says you can't, this law wins out.

              • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Thursday October 02, 2014 @11:00AM (#48046869)

                But the law doesn't say, for example, that you have a legally protected right to make back-ups. It just says that making back-ups under certain conditions doesn't infringe copyright, which is a completely different statement.

                The guys who negotiated these laws are not new at this. These changes have been in negotiation and consultation for several years, and despite the apparent wishful thinking of many posting in this Slashdot discussion, they didn't get to that process and then accidentally give away the keys to the kingdom without noticing.

                • by Xest ( 935314 )

                  But what exactly is the point?

                  No one was prosecuted for doing this even when it was completely illegal, now it's legal if you're not circumventing DRM, but still no one is going to be prosecuted are they? The police have better things to do and it's too cost prohibitive and largely impossible for the industry to do it themselves.

                  So whatever the change it's completely meaningless all the same.

                  What I'm intrigued about though is the talk of not being able to share with your family, how does this apply within a

                  • The legal situation seems quite clear in your example. If lots of people collectively own a CD, then they collectively own that copy of whatever data is on it. Of course, only one of them can actually play that CD at once without making additional copies.

                    The new rules about using cloud storage are analogous. You can transfer your copy of some work to a cloud hosting service for your own convenience, but you aren't then allowed to share access to that library with others in the cloud equivalent of making lot

              • Actually, this is not a new UK law - it's a European Union directive, so it applies to the whole of the European Union.

                However, it's still more restrictive on what can and cannot be parodied:

                If a parody conveys a discriminatory message (for example, by replacing the original characters with people wearing veils and people of colour), the holders of the rights to the work parodied have, in principle, a legitimate interest in ensuring that their work is not associated with such a message.

                Certain really funny scenes in Spaceballs were just outlawed. "There goes the neighborhood."

                However, when looking at the text of the actual law [legislation.gov.uk], it doesn't make any mention of discrimination in the list of changes. Neither does the 11-page explanatory notes section. My guess? Someone added their own interpretati

                • Actually, this is not a new UK law - it's a European Union directive, so it applies to the whole of the European Union.

                  No, what's UK law is the various sets of laws in the UK that implement the EU directive. Note –the EU has no power at all to enforce laws in the UK, they just make treaties asking various member states to implement laws matching up to directives.

                  The new law is the one saying that you're not violating copyright if you're backing something up. That one takes precedence over the one implementing the EU directive.

            • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

              EUCD is a rough framework with which each member state's legislation must conform with. It allows for significant variance, ranging from Spain's "almost everything is allowed" to laws far more restrictive than US ones.

              • And as I wrote before, the relevant parts were incorporated into UK law about a decade ago.

                You might not like it, but that is the law in the UK today, and there is really nothing ambiguous or open to significant interpretation about it.

                • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

                  Devil is in the details. Which interpretations of relevant parts were incorporated?

                  Spain for example, was very allowing, whereas my home country, Finland, was not. We happened to have an former model as a culture minister who was massively lobbied by what was essentially her old employers (content creators) and we got an extremely tight interpretation.

                  Yet bot laws, in spite of being complete opposites on several key points, like allowing private sharing between friends over internet, are fully compatible wi

                  • We are talking specifically about the UK in this discussion. It's right there in the title.

                    In the UK, circumvention of technical measures is illegal even if it is otherwise legal to make the copy itself. There is really no ambiguity about any of this. It is fully enshrined in the laws of each relevant jurisdiction within the UK, it has been for years, it has been tested in court and it stood up, and nothing in the reforms we're discussing changes the situation.

                    All the discussion about DMCA and EUCD and what

        • At least it's not illegal to [circumvent technical measures].

          Yes, it still is. That's the point. Almost all of the theoretical benefits of these changes can immediately be nullified, because all the content provider has to do is apply technical measures and then breaking those measures remains against the law even if the copy would otherwise now be legal.

          This is not America, there is no DMCA. Though there is a murky EU rule saying otherwise to placate the US, that rule hasn't held up in court and even if it did, any clearer law saying something is specifically allowed would overrule it.

          • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Thursday October 02, 2014 @10:29AM (#48046551)

            This is not America, there is no DMCA.

            What does America have to do with anything? This is about the UK, I live in the UK, and I'm talking about UK law. Here we have the EUCD, which is hardly "murky" on this matter, and the relevant provisions have been incorporated into UK law for around a decade now.

            When do you think this hasn't held up in court? There have been various cases elsewhere in Europe where things like mod chips have survived a court challenge in various ways. However, in the UK, the judiciary seems to have taken a very consistent and pro-rightsholder view in such cases so far.

            Also, what "clearer law saying something is specifically allowed" do you think applies here? The changes taking effect today have little to say about TPMs.

            Perhaps you should read the Intellectual Property Office guidance [www.gov.uk] (PDF) about this issue. Pay particular attention to the FAQ on page 4, where for example it notes:

            However, you should note that media, such as DVDs and e-books, can still be protected by technology which physically prevents copying and circumvention of such technology remains illegal.

            Or just go straight to reading the changes themselves, which are written in legalese but clear enough for a non-lawyer to understand.

            • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

              EUCD is NOT a law. It's a directive. Directives are meant as general framework for local parliaments to work off to make actual laws.

              As a result, it is in no shape or form binding for individual citizenry.

              • As a result, [the EUCD] is in no shape or form binding for individual citizenry.

                But the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 as amended is.

                As I have mentioned elsewhere, people have already been sued under this law in the UK, and they have lost.

                • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

                  Of course. That's what local state laws are about. They are meant to be binding for citizenry.

                  European Directives are not binding to citizens, they are binding to legislators of each state. The idea is that directive creates a certain base set of rules, and local legislative branch interprets those rules in light of local culture and implements them in local, binding law.

      • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

        It still is in UK. That's the problem.

    • What would you have? Just make DRM illegal on purchase-model sales? It won't change a thing. That whole model is being killed off.

      The problem is that all content providers (even software) are moving to a model where you're not buying your license, you're just renting it. These sorts of arrangements are the sole good commercial reason for DRM but as we're seeing, it's ushering in a new wave of anti-interoperability. Yesterday's DRM-ripping problems won't be the problem tomorrow, it's the good old favourites

      • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Thursday October 02, 2014 @10:44AM (#48046691)

        What would you have?

        Personally, in an ideal world but one where we accept the basic principle of copyright as a reasonable economic tool? I'd have:

        1. 100% effective DRM. (Yes, really, but read on for what balances it.)

        2. Compulsory escrow for any work being distributed commercially with DRM applied, and criminal sanctions for those who fail to provide the unprotected content to the relevant regulatory authority.

        3. Much shorter copyright durations, probably varying by industry/type of work and dictated by what creates a reasonable commercial incentive but not an excessive one in each context, which I suspect would be around 5-10 years in most cases.

        4. Original creators keeping the master copyright to any work they do, so big media distributors can only ever have exclusive licensing for relatively short periods (maybe 1-2 years) after which they have to renegotiate with the original creators if they want to renew their licence.

        In short, I would give the creators primary control for the duration of the copyright, I would make big distribution channels into a market that is subservient to creators rather than the other way around, and then within that structure, members of the general public get a clear choice to enjoy a work immediately on whatever terms the market will support (one-off purchase, rental, library subscription, etc.) or to wait a significant but not absurd length of time until the work enters the public domain forever.

        In shorter, I'd screw the distributor middlemen, make copyright back into something that provides a reasonable incentive to create and share good works, and make the default legal position that everyone can enjoy everything once that incentive has done its job.

        • But some of the problems of DRM remain.

          Suppose I make a program for blind users, that enables voice-commanded play/selection of audio, for music and/or audiobooks. The DRM used by Audible and Spotify prevent my app from being able to play their content, and (to my knowledge) neither Audible nor Spotify cater to blind users themselves.

          • That is a fair point, but I think it's orthogonal to the main issue. There are already laws about accessibility and discrimination for various other commercial activities, and I see no reason similar rules could not be extended to cover provision of creative content within the kind of scheme I described.

            As a curious aside, technically there is already a provision for raising problems caused by DRM with the government in the UK. However, it's so obscure and awkward that I've never heard of anyone actually tr

            • I wasn't clear, but my intended point wasn't disabled access specifically, but that DRM necessarily disempowers the user.

              It will only play on supported devices, in ways they deem permissible. No support for Audible on your car? Hope you can get an old-fashioned audio feed from your Android to work, as there's no chance you'll get to use the controls built in to your steering wheel. Want to play on Linux? Hope you can wrestle Wine into playing ball.

              These issues are similar to those addressed more generally b

              • It's just a band-aid.

                Not really. If there is sufficient demand for something, the market would tend to provide it at a viable price. For more niche uses, it wouldn't, but that's always the deal when you go outside the mainstream with any technology.

                The difference in "my world" is that there would be a much shorter time limit on how long any sort of lock-in could last for. If anything, that should create a greater incentive to maximise availability via different channels as broadly and quickly as possible to gain the maximum com

                • If there is sufficient demand for something, the market would tend to provide it at a viable price.

                  Not really. Anti-consumer behaviour is not something that capitalism has shown successful in preventing.

                  want to play something on Linux? Get Linux to support my idealised bulletproof DRM and show there's enough of a market to justify any overheads in making the content available on that platform -- just like any other platform has to.

                  Well, your 'perfect DRM' idea is just a thought-experiment. Let's not forget that, in the real world, DRM doesn't help anyone. This is particularly self-evident in the case of audio: if it feeds a speaker, it's obviously possible to capture the audio.

                  All this said, I still buy on Audible and listen on their Android player. It works great for me personally, right now, but there are still downsides to DRM.

                  • Anti-consumer behaviour is not something that capitalism has shown successful in preventing.

                    I'm not really trusting them to act in consumers' interests. It see it more as relying on money-grabbing b*****ds to be money-grabbing b*****ds.

                    Well, your 'perfect DRM' idea is just a thought-experiment.

                    Of course. In reality I don't support DRM, because in practice I think we are very long way from either perfect DRM or a reasonable copyright framework, and with the current balance I think DRM does more harm than good. That said...

                    Let's not forget that, in the real world, DRM doesn't help anyone.

                    I'm quite sure that's not true. Just because it doesn't prevent or deter all illegal copying, that doesn't mean it doesn't prevent or de

        • by gnupun ( 752725 )

          3. Much shorter copyright durations, probably varying by industry/type of work and dictated by what creates a reasonable commercial incentive but not an excessive one in each context, which I suspect would be around 5-10 years in most cases.

          Lulz, if that's the case then I and many other people are simply going to wait for the copyrights to expire and get the books, music and movies for free. The quality of art is steadily deteriorating anyway. So 10-year old art is very likely better than anything modern an

          • Lulz, if that's the case then I and many other people are simply going to wait for the copyrights to expire and get the books, music and movies for free.

            Of course you are, and I have no problem with that. Copyright wasn't supposed to be a mechanism for locking up culture indefinitely. As long as enough people still want things soon enough to pay for them at reasonable prices, creators can still make a decent return and will still create and share stuff, and that is what it's all about.

          • by Trogre ( 513942 )

            Yes, and so what? Why is this a problem?

    • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Thursday October 02, 2014 @10:34AM (#48046593)

      technical measures for DRM purposes.

      DRM? I thought it was just corrupted data* on the original media. I downloaded this nice piece of software that appears to recover the data quite effectively and made my legal copy.

      *It must have been corrupted. It wouldn't play on my Linux system.

    • Of course, in exchange for this largess, copyright terms have been extended to the creator's lifetime+2,000,000 years.

      Because otherwise, there is no incentive to create.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      And that means, this isn't really progress at all. Or, it's negative progress.

      Because in politicians' minds, they've made concessions. They've resolved the whines of the anti-big-copyright lobby, and they can go back to smugly ignoring us for the next two elections at least. And since those concessions can be trivially nullified by publishers, they're pretty much worthless to us.

      We've shot our bolt, and missed. That's what we get for not organising our lobbying.

      • We've shot our bolt, and missed. That's what we get for not organising our lobbying.

        Frankly, I'm not sure we ever stood a chance. If you read the "debates" in the House of Lords and with senior civil servants that have taken place in recent months, they are among the most one-sided politics I have ever seen on any subject. Several of the prominent members of the Lords who speak on the subject came from Big Media backgrounds or have continuing interests in the area. I recall noticing one prominent figure openly acknowledging that their primary concern with the whole issue was the promotion

  • *New pirate bay servers are opened in the UK*
  • www.PirateFlix.co.uk - a parody of a media distribution service.

  • It has been legal to make personal backups here in the US for decades. They way big media circumvented that law was by lobbying for the DMCA and once passed, encrypt everything. Thus nullifying the law for the consumers.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Well, that legitimises UKIP, then.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Old men with no understanding of anything make more rules which nobody will take any notice of.

    Whatever...

  • While it is legal to make back-ups for personal use, it remains an offence to share the data with friends or family.

    How far does that go? I'm thinking in both the US and the UK. I bought a CD, and my wife listens to it on the CD player. No problem, she has the disc, she holds the copy. Now I upload it to cloud storage and she streams it. Still fine. But what if we both stream it? Did I need to buy a second disc so I have a second license?

    • by J053 ( 673094 )

      If the RIAA/MPAA had their way entirely, you'd have to pay a fee each time you listen to it. That's where they'd like to go, and will keep pushing their tame legislators to get there.

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