February 14, 2005

Copyright, Music and Fair Use

Norwegian copyright law has up until now been very relaxed, relaxed to the extent that downloading of music and copying between friends has been legal. Well, that is not going to last long. A new law is in the pipeline, and the proposition (norwegian only) put forward to the Norwegian parliament has caused a heated debate.

The law effectively bans copying copyrighted material, including music and movies, making it illegal to up/download copyrighted music to/from the internet, something which has not been forbidden until now due to several loop holes in the current legislation. The general

Both the old and the new law allows you to take copies of purchased copyrighted material for private use. If you have bought an ordinary CD you are allowed to make a backup copy of it, or to stream it onto a magnetic tape for use in your old car stereo - or as it is most common to do these days; to rip the CD, convert the music into MP3 (or a similar format) and to save it onto a portable MP3 player. So far so good.

Only one small problem...

... the proposed new legislation has a newly introduced limitation. If the purchased material (e.g. CD) is protected by a 'technical protection mechanism' then you are not allowed to take any copies for private use, except if the the mechanism renders the media useless in a device in which it is reasonable to believe it should be compatible with. In other words; you are allowed to take a copy of a copy protected 'CD', turning it into a proper CD if it does not play in your car stereo/dvd-player or similar. MP3 players are not covered.

As a result, the CD I bought in October 2003 would now be illegal to rip into MP3 - but it would be legal to use Easy CD-DA Extractor to make a defect-free CD copy. Makes no sense at all if you ask me.

I am left with many questions. I buy a CD in the stores. I want to use it with my Zen Micro. I am not allowed to. (Well, maybe I am, probably depends on which country I am in when I do it.) I guess the music industry's great hope is that you will go onto Napster/iTunes and buy the CD there instead. But why would you do that? And what if the music is not sold online? Many great artists still refrain from selling their albums on the net. Would that ban their music ever to be heard on an iPod? And the great paradox; if you buy the album online you are generally allowed to make a CD out of it. So WMA/AAC to CD is legal, the other way around is not?! Wonderful. Only a lawyer could have invented this.

The result is naturally that an entire generation of Norwegians will turn into petty criminals in the weeks after the introduction of such a law. The sad part is that those who might have bought the 'CD' legally now might just say "why care? I can rip it and become a criminal, or I can download it and become a criminal" - talk about a catch 22.

At the end of the day this should've been an easy law to write. I think most people know what is fair use and what is not. According to my standard it is atleast. When you buy copyrighted material you buy the right to listen to it, and also to store it in any form desireable. You are not allowed to give it away. If you rent music then your right to listen to it ends when the subscription runs out.

The weeks ahead will be interesting. Will the law pass? Will someone remove the right out dumb legal protection of silly copy protection mechanisms? Will anyone dare to sell copy protected 'CD's? Or even more interesting; who will be the first one to dare to sue a teenager a.k.a customer that bought a 'CD' and then ripped it onto his iPod?

Posted by ludvig at February 14, 2005 12:11 AM | TrackBack

Nice post, guy... you wrote so much... so why don't you also send a letter to the Norwegian parliament, government or whatever and you explain/show how stupid and paradox law they are introducing?

I don't say to lose your time to collect signatures (if in Norway this is possible to do, as in Switzerland) and do a referendum against the upcoming law (well, if you do something like this you earn my respect, dude;) ), but just try to send a letter to someone who could understand it.

Did the Norwegian media already cover this story? It makes me laugh to see how many stupid laws are invented every day, thanks for publishing your post ;)

By the way: even if this law will become true, do you really think that policemen will stop you, search for your ipod, check every song title (and compare it with a database of forbidden music to be converted in mp3) and finally sue you because you have a couple of illegal albums or songs?

:D :D Common, we are all criminals, but just we can't be caught for these stupid things. We are not in the USA where parents of a kid downloading a Disney movie from edonkey2000 or kazaa had to pay a 10'000$ fine (because they were randomly caught). We are in Europe. And I really hope in Europe we won't become like the USA... scared to to do anything... (did you see Bowling for columbine?).

At least Switzerland is out of the European Union and we have a relaxing law for this sort of things. But of course this will change one day or another, just question of time. As I often think: enjoy your piracy till you can ;)

And never install Windows Longhorn with Media Center included when it'll. Else you create a prison for yourself (heard about palladium?) ;)

I hope that open source will never become illegal: no software patents: http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com !

W linux, freedom and open source ;)



Posted by: Pol at February 23, 2005 05:47 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?