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IPO: It will remain illegal to rip your CDs

Posted by Sam Frances on Thursday, December 17th, 2015 at 8:32

The UK Intellectual Property Office has announced that it will abandon any attempt to reinstate the UK’s private copying exception, which was struck down by the High Court earlier this year.

The IPO told law firm Pinsent Masons that:

The government is currently focussing its resources on the upcoming European copyright reforms, and does not intend to take further action on private copying at this time.

The private copying exception was introduced in October 2014, legalising the ubiquitous practice of individuals making digital copies of their own CDs, DVDs etc. for private use. However, the High Court struck down the exception after music industry representatives brought a judicial review against the government’s decision. The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, the Musicians Union, and UK Music argued that under EU law the government could not introduce the exception without compensating rightsholders via a levy on blank media or similar mechanism.

However, while the High Court ruled against the private copying exception, the judgement did leave scope for reintroducing the exception without compensating copyright holders.

The Judgment, handed down on 19th June, concludes that while the Government correctly interpreted the law in this area, the evidence relied upon to justify the conclusion that the exception caused minimal harm was inadequate, and the decision to introduce the exception was therefore unlawful.
— Quashing of private copying exception – Gov.UK

Therefore, in theory if the government had conducted more robust research to show that the exception would cause minimal harm to copyright holders, it might have been possible to reintroduce the exception.

In any case, if the recorded music industry hoped that the judicial review would result in a copyright levy, they will be disappointed for time being. The majority of the public, who were unaware of both the private copying exception and the ruling against it, will continue to rip their CDs and DVDs for private use, and copyright holders will receive no more compensation than before.

Those users who are aware of the changes face a difficult decision: whether to make copies for personal use in contravention of the law in the reasonably sure knowledge that they won’t get caught, or abide by the law and deny themselves a degree of sensible flexibility in their viewing and listening choices. One thing they will not do is go out and buy a digital replacement such as a download, for a CD or DVD they already own. — The 1709 Blog

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