back to article Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix

Musicians and composers have launched a High Court legal challenge to a change the government has made to UK copyright law. British bureaucrats insisted on introducing a long-overdue private copying exception without compensation - the only European state to do so. The exception "legalises" the making of a copy of legitimately …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SOS, DD

    When all public officials agree to work for free and without lavish benefits then and only then should any politician expect or require artists to not be compensated for a copy of their art. In addition only one copy of that art shall exist per person. If more than one copy exist then we have a case of piracy, not a reasonable archival of purchased art.

    1. hapticz

      Re: SOS, DD, more phoney money baloney..

      any of these artist's is complicit in the 'copying industry' scam, as they profit from unperformed (no actual singing or playing) of their so called 'art'. the copying industry includes all manner of management, technical and manufacturing (all the way down to the floor of the pressing plant) and distribution matrix. these artists have become so lazy, they dont even perform real music, they lip-sync, use prerecorded background tracks, hire writers to script their lyrics, and pretend they have created music art. every audible/visual fleck of information that does not come straight from their pea brain, drug fueled, sex immersed mouths is a worthless fake. if these artists want money, they can perform 365 daya year on stage, doing their art, for real. like most of the fobs that do real work, and hand off TRILLIONS of dollars to the intermediary copying industry for non-performance fakes of their productions. we are all being had, by Sony, Samsung, Phillips, Intel, and any other corporate middle man or management that reaps BILLIONS in profits from some of the few (and i mean FEW) real artists out there. so phoooey on the lot of you!

      1. MartinB105

        Re: SOS, DD, more phoney money baloney..

        Arguing that artists should only get paid for performing is stupid. Some musical works are not designed or intended to be performed. For example, have you ever seen how many dozens of individual tracks a typical work of Shpongle is composed of!? There's no way Shpongle are going to be performing every single piece of that manually live on stage, especially since Shpongle is just two individuals. This is just one example; there are MANY more.

        Let's not be stupid about this, OK?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: SOS, DD, more phoney money baloney..

        Serious artists have already done enough by making an amazing record. They totally deserve compensation for that recording if it is giving pleasure - if it is being enjoyed.

        "if these artists want money, they can perform 365 daya year on stage, doing their art, for real."

        Yeah, and why not kick a cripple on the way out, will ya? They're not pulling their weight in society. That's your logic, anyway.

        I smell a bitter, envious loser.

  2. Aitor 1

    Makes sense

    Why should I pay money to an artist because I want to have his music (witch I DO pay for) in my cellphone as well ?

    They aren't offering any kind of service or good, they just want the money for nothing (and I'm not movind colour tvs..).

    We could have discussions about piracy and compensation, but that is different. Here we are talking about charging twice.

    I

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Makes sense

      "Here we are talking about charging twice."

      You might be - nobody else is.

      1. localzuk

        Re: Makes sense

        So, taxation on devices that have the potential to be used for copying is not charging twice? I've not ripped a CD in over 6 years. I have, however, burnt dozens of CDs of data, my own videos and photos etc... I've used mobile devices to play legally paid for music via Spotify, and to play for legally purchased downloaded music.

        How would my paying tax on those items *not* be my paying twice? That's the scheme other countries have used, and it amounts to an unfair tax in my mind.

        1. Chad H.

          Re: Makes sense

          >>>>So, taxation on devices that have the potential to be used for copying is not charging twice?

          Not only is it charging twice for stuff you bought, its charging the first time for stuff you didn't buy, and didn't want.

          If there was a levy on blank media to pay for piracy, then morally there can be no objection should I choose to fill that media with pirated stuff - I already paid the premium for that, and so there can be no loss on the other side.

          1. Tapeador
            FAIL

            Re: Makes sense

            "If there was a levy on blank media to pay for piracy, then morally there can be no objection should I choose to fill that media with pirated stuff - I already paid the premium for that, and so there can be no loss on the other side."

            I think the analogy is more with the Motor Insurer Bureau's fund for harm caused by uninsured drivers, which pays out a small fraction of the cost of an accident, in a limited number of cases - and it's paid for by all motorists. You pay a) because the key market players have decided your altruistically part-compensating victims for others' harmful acts is the correct course; and b) perhaps because because the medium (driving a car) as a whole carries with it a risk of unlawful and uncompensated harm - or some similar argument about drivers paying for (a fraction of) the harm of unlawful driving whosoever causes it, just as with tapers paying for (a fraction of) the harm of unlawful taping, whosoever causes it, and not just abandoning the victims wholly to their own resources. It doesn't compensate for the whole harm, no way.

            Your claim seems to be that paying such a premium once, gives you moral permission to steal a car, drive it around uninsured, and crash it into people/things. How that is morally justified, and indeed how it follows that there is "no loss" as you say, when you do so, baffles me utterly.

      2. Fluffy Bunny
        Flame

        Re: Makes sense

        "You might be - nobody else is."

        Actually, we are. I will often buy a CD, then rip it to a USB to play in my car because I don't want to leave the real CD in my car - it attracts rocks through the windows, which are expensive to fix.

        Because there is only one person listening to the music, I should only have to pay once. I am simply doing a format change, not giving it to anyone else. But big music hires shills to sell our ignorant MPs on the benefits of forcing me to pay for a 2nd copy.

        1. Red Bren
          Pirate

          Re: Makes sense

          "Because there is only one person listening to the music, I should only have to pay once."

          I played a CD in the car while my family were travelling with me. Where do I send the money I owe?

        2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re: Makes sense

          @FluffyBunny Something like UV, where you pay once for lifetime access to a movie? What a good idea.

          You're arguing for better licenses.

          1. PassiveSmoking

            Re: Makes sense

            Have you actually ever tried to use UV? It's such a ridiculous system that I gave up on it very quickly. Given the choice between a UV disc and a "triple play" disc (which includes the blu-ray, a DVD and usually an iTunes download of the same content) I'll take the triple-play version every time. UV seems to have been either deliberately designed to discourage you from using it, or simply designed by people who didn't realise people might want to use it.

        3. dan1980

          Re: Makes sense

          When you buy something like a CD or DVD, you are buying a license to use the content.

          The dire warnings make this clear.

          This licensing is a reasonable situation - after all it is not the case that, having bought a CD, you could then use the music as the soundtrack to a movie. Nor could you remix the songs and release them.

          So far so good.

          The problem comes when these licenses are used to restrict your consumption of that content beyond what is logically consistent with the 'you purchase a license to listen to a song' model. Preventing people making copies of a CD for personal use is just not justifiable under this structure.

          Why would you? They have purchased a license to listen to a song - what possible reason can there be to prevent someone listening to that song on an MP3 player?

          If I listen to an album twice at home on my stereo, how is that in any way different from listening to it once at home and then again on my MP3 player when I go for a walk? I have listened to an album twice - why should anyone get a single cent more for the second scenario than the first?

      3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      4. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Makes sense

        "Here we are talking about charging twice."

        You might be - nobody else is.

        I've bought "Bat outta hell" by Meatloaf on vinyl, cassette and CD. How many more formats is it reasonable for Mr Loaf to expect me to buy before we both just accept that I've paid him enough for the music?

        I should be allowed to create backup copies and change formats as best fits my needs. Piracy means the aritst doesn't get paid, but backups and format changes mean they do get paid, but only once - which in a neat little bout of cosmic justice, is how many times they put the work into producing it.

    2. Uffish

      Re: Makes sense

      So can I video the film next time I go to the cinema? You have to buy a ticket to see the film so I will have paid for my share of the performance and by your argument I should be allowed to make a copy for my smartphone.

      Just because no-one can realistically stop the home copying of CDs and DVDs doesn't, by itself, make it legal.

      1. localzuk

        Re: Makes sense

        @Uffish - no. When you go to the cinema, you are paying to watch a single showing of a film. You aren't buying a copy of the movie.

  3. Anonymous Blowhard

    People won't know who to hate in this one...

    You have a choice of:

    Musicians

    Record Companies

    UK Government

    The European Union

    1. Someone Else Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Re: People won't know who to hate in this one...

      That could be an inclusive OR...

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: People won't know who to hate in this one...

        I don't have anything against real musicians (not the mass-manufactured clones from x-factor etc). Not at all.

        All the music I have in my collection has been paid for, often more than once (remasters, reremasters, special editions, what have you). I go to concerts when I can (dragging my family with me more often than not) and I even bought band-branded beer a few times (BBT)...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never quite understood the whinging from the music industry, you'd think music had been wiped out or something?

    http://news.jazzjournalists.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/chart-of-the-day-music-industry-1973-2009-feb-2011.jpg

    At the moment we're back down to 1989 levels. Which considering there's now games consoles and computers with their £40 a go games is pretty good going. There's only a finite amount of money to spend.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So...

    ...the blank media levy rears it's ugly head again.

    Still kids, remember, home taping is killing music!

    1. Chad H.

      Re: So...

      Everyone knows that the music industy died with the event of Music Radio, because, as the music industry informed us at the time, nobody would pay for music when they can stay home and listen to it for free.

      Anyone who thus claims to be a professional musician or represent some "music industry" therefore must by definition be a fraudster as no such industry can logically still be in existience.

  6. SuperTim

    Compensation?

    For what exactly? I bought the CD, I am copying it for my own use, so still a single licencee involved. The fact it is now in two physical locations is not relevant. I bought the right to listen to it (or at least, that's how it should work).

    This won't solve the issue for piracy, as that would still be illegal if I chose to make my "copy" available to others.

    Also, doesn't blank media have a so-called subsidy for the assumed copying that goes on? It used to if I recall.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Compensation?

      "The fact it is now in two physical locations is not relevant. I bought the right to listen to it (or at least, that's how it should work)."

      It's relevant in so far as you are not actually allowed to make a copy of something without a license to do so. The EU's 2001 directive sets out exceptions where this might be permitted. Personal use (of lawfully acquired etc etc) is one of themonly permitted where compensation is also introduced. It doesn't say what this compensation should be.

      Would it make more sense to offer a "license to hear it anywhere" or even a "lifetime license"? Undoubtedly yes, and we're moving towards that.

      "This won't solve the issue for piracy, as that would still be illegal if I chose to make my "copy" available to others."

      Yes, spot on.

      "Also, doesn't blank media have a so-called subsidy for the assumed copying that goes on? It used to if I recall."

      Not in the UK. It's not a levy-friendly country which is why nobody is calling for one. The Copyright Minister:

      "The Government do not believe that British consumers would tolerate private copying levies. They are inefficient, bureaucratic and unfair, and disadvantage people who pay for content."

      http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldhansrd/text/140729-0001.htm#14072947000224

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: Compensation?

        "It's relevant in so far as you are not actually allowed to make a copy of something without a license to do so."

        But that's purely an artificial construct and a tautology if used in an argument - "it's not allowed because it is not allowed".

        Let's suppose I "lobbied" by council to let me draw a line across the street where I live and toll everyone who steps over it. That will be licensed and legal but the essence of it will still be a good old racket as I'd provide no value in exchange for the money I'd collect. Same thing is with the copyright if it is applied in the way the rights holders always want.

        1. SDoradus

          Re: Compensation?

          The courts would disagree with you. The value you gained was the permission to listen.

          More generally, copyright takes many forms and you must have 'artificial constructs' or legal terms of art merely to discuss it.

          For example, copyright subsists not just in the medium but in a performance. For decade upon decade, since radios began blaring popular music in the early years of last century, workers like garage mechanics had the radio going in their workplace. This meant the public could also listen to the radio broadcast. At least from 1988 (and arguably earlier) this changed, and a number of small businesses - a garage mechanic was the first - were put out of business by the legal costs associated with allowing the public to hear the radio blaring in the back of the workshop.

          So remember: a "licence to hear a track anywhere" doesn't mean you won't be done for copyright infringement if the public can hear it too.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Compensation?

        Being forbidden to make a copy means that once I paid for the right to listen to their music on a given medium they will replace such a medium if it is damaged or lost? Or that I can send back my old CD and obtain it in a new format?

        The music industry is hiding behind a finger. It hoped new media would have allowed to sell the *same* contents to the *same* people over and over as long media evolved. A 'perfect' plan to make lots of money with minimal efforts. Just repackage old stuff in a new format, and sell it again.

        Just to find the new media allowed to move contents to newer technology easily, without any need to repurchase. Just like you get your own old photos and movies digitalized.

        When the plan to extract as much money as they could from the same contents failed, a 'compensation' was sought. Of course, the perfect target are the end users, regardless of what they do or don't. Just to make some overly rich 'artists' even richer, and those gathering compensation money as well.

        Frankly, as a software developer, it's like if I asked to repurchase my software every time you switch to a new OS, while asking you to read the software from the original media each time, and forbidding you to make any copy, even on the hard disk - and we get no compensation....

      3. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Re: Compensation?

        What is this license shit? You are just making stuff up. I bought a CD, I didn't negotiate a license, or even see one. There is copyright law.

        So where is this so called license? Who wrote it? When did it come into force?

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

          1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

            Re: Compensation?

            Just a tip - if you're ever in front of the beak, don't expect them to agree with you ;)

            Whether you like it or not, Parliament passes laws which they _can_ punish breaches of (so long as a sufficiently large proportion of the population abides by them - they can't punish us all). Copyright is just one of those laws.

            What the muso's are asking for is farkin ridiculous (for reasons plenty of others have stated), but you've just made them look a comparatively normal IYDMMS

            1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

              Re: Compensation?

              @SDoradus & Ben Tasker

              Please note that I am not arguing whether something is legal or not in this particular case. My concern is whether this should or shouldn't be so.

              My argument is that format shifting for personal use should be legal and there is no case for the original artist getting any compensation for it alone.

              SDoradus, you say the value I get is a permission to listen.

              Yes, OK, when I buy a CD - I get a dataset of x samples of sound in digital form and a permission to convert them into acoustic waves whenever I feel like. When I rip that CD to MP3 - no new samples are being acquired and the end results, when I listen to that MP3, are the acoustic waves of equal or lower fidelity than before. The path from samples to sound is irrelevant. I get no additional value from the artist.

              So far I have not heard any rational counterargument to that except "oh, it's prohibited by law". Anything can be prohibited by law if you have enough money and influence to get it through the system. It doesn't count.

              1. strum Silver badge

                Re: Compensation?

                >So far I have not heard any rational counterargument to that

                Try this: when the artist signed on the dotted line, he did so on the terms of the contract in question, and within the legal provisions of the time. This latter included the promise that he would be paid every time someone made a copy.

                The EU have chosen (probably correctly) to alter that context, so that a central pillar of his contract is diminished. In recognition of this fact, the EU simultaneously recommended 'comprensation' for that loss.

                See - it's not that difficult after all, is it?

                1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

                  Re: Compensation?

                  No, you are missing the same point in the same way.

                  Copyright does not guarantee you get paid for every copy. It only prohibits others from making copies without your consent. It is presumed that you will not give your consent if you don't think you are suitably compensated, but you might.

                  When taken literally, that means one cannot format-shift without the rights holder's approval and the rights holders can demand payment in exchange for letting someone do that.

                  I am not saying it isn't the case. What I'm saying is that it is unfair and abusive when applied to the reality of the modern technology and so must be changed (as is happening now) and the changes should not include the right for the copyright holder to demand compensation for format-shifting (as is seemingly happening as well).

                  Also, I disagree with your idea that the artists are somehow incurring a loss because of this change.

                  They have never been paid for the format-shifting before, when it was happening illegitimately, so, if they won't get paid now it is only maintaining the status quo.

        2. SDoradus

          Re: Compensation?

          I bet the jewel case insert had a copyright indication on it somewhere. That, legally speaking put you on notice that terms and conditions of a licence existed. It's your responsibility to find out what those are.

          Of course, people in general don't bother - just like they don't go into the stationmaster's office and look at the terms and conditions of carriage every time they go by train. Doesn't make the fine print non-existent.

      4. JP19

        Re: Compensation?

        "only permitted where compensation is also introduced. It doesn't say what this compensation should be"

        On behalf of all the people in the world to all rights holders I say "Thanks". Compensation at an appropriate level has been introduced and delivered. Job done, move along.

      5. SDoradus

        Re: Compensation?

        Not sure why Mr Orlowski's comments above were so heavily downvoted.

        One might not like that "you are not actually allowed to make a copy of something without a license to do so", but it's trite law for copyrightable items. That a copy "would still be illegal if I chose to make my "copy" available to others", likewise. And that there is no blank media subsidy in the UK is simply a fact.

        I'd observe that it does make sense to offer a "license to hear [a track] anywhere" or even a "lifetime license", and I'm fascinated that the UK "may be moving to that"; but if we take that literally the implications are wider than one might think.

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re: Compensation?

          "Not sure why Mr Orlowski's comments above were so heavily downvoted"

          It's expected - people confuse the law with a license. The law merely sets the boundaries for trade, but it's the licensing permits what people can do with the stuff in the real world.

          Pretty much everything is permissable with a license and two willing parties. The GPL wouldn't exist without very strong copyright law setting the boundaries.

          Entitlement culture and Big Tech propaganda have done their job. And I'm still waiting for my "legal p2p file sharing".

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      IIRC: The UK does not have a blank media levy

      Several other countries do have a blank media levy, along with arguments about who gets paid, how the money is distributed, and what to do about people creating their own content to store on their devices. The arguments are a big waste of time as the real beneficiaries are usually the people who administer the fund.

  7. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Strange argument

    I never understood the logic behind the argument that musicians should be entitled to any "compensation" if someone rips a legitimately purchased CD to MP3 for their own personal use.

    It just doesn't stack up - no new data has been acquired, there is no improvement of quality, any improvement in convenience is solely due to the technology involved (and paid for) and no reasonable person can expect somebody to be able to listen simultaneously to both the CD and the MP3 - so only one copy is in use at any given time.

    Where is the value added by the musician during the ripping process for which they must be compensated?

    Meanwhile, if every media item were to be taxed to pay to the poor artists why should I pay them anything if all I burn on my DVDs is my family home videos?

    I'm with the UK on this, not with the continent.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Stop being reasonable - this has nothing to do with reason

      I could by a DVD, or I could pay 'extra' (currently often £0) for a DVD with Ultraviolet. If I can legally rip my DVD's to my local NAS for free, there is no reason for paying extra for Ultraviolet, and a company whose service I will never want will disappear.

      I am avoiding Ultraviolet because every view is a download that will quickly surpass my ISP's limits and will almost certainly get bumpy when other people are watching Ultraviolet. With no recurring income, Ultraviolet's servers will die from lack of budget, and I will get the choice of pay per view, or my investment in Ultraviolet evaporating.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Stop being reasonable - this has nothing to do with reason

        "I could by a DVD, or I could pay 'extra' (currently often £0) for a DVD with Ultraviolet. If I can legally rip my DVD's to my local NAS for free, there is no reason for paying extra for Ultraviolet, and a company whose service I will never want will disappear.

        I am avoiding Ultraviolet because every view is a download that will quickly surpass my ISP's limits and will almost certainly get bumpy when other people are watching Ultraviolet. With no recurring income, Ultraviolet's servers will die from lack of budget, and I will get the choice of pay per view, or my investment in Ultraviolet evaporating."

        Ultraviolet is a solution to a problem that consumers can already solve themselves, albeit unlawfully. Ultraviolet is clunky and expensive (in terms of bandwidth), only available when you have a good Internet connection, and doesn't work with all your media. Strangely enough, people go with the unlawful way that's much easier and better. I can either rip DVDs onto an external hard drive that I can take with me, or I can submit my personal data to those fluffy media companies to mine, and in the end have a system that doesn't work properly. Hmm.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Strange argument

      "I'm with the UK on this, not with the continent."

      We'll have you voting for Nigel soon.

  8. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Please explain ...

    Plan A: I buy a CD, illegally rip it to my mp3 player and listen to it through headphones. The RIAA could sue me to bankruptcy and pay the musicians only the royalty on the CD (minus expenses) because the contract does not include revenue from fines (which would be completely eaten by legal fees anyway). Instead, the RIAA don't sue me because of the public outrage it would cause.

    Plan B: I buy a CD, legally rip it to my mp3 player and listen to it through headphones. The RIAA do not sue me because I have not broken UK law, even though UK law is not consistent with EU law.

    Plan C: I buy a CD, legally rip it to my mp3 player and listen to it through headphones. The government gives a contribution to some revenue distribution company as required by EU law. The distribution company sits on the money until they have spent it all on administration.

    How have musicians lost out because I ripped my CD to an mp3 player, listened to it on headphones and the govenment did not pay the compensation required by EU law?

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Please explain ...

      Because you didn't buy two copies.

      (And don't blame me, or the musicians or the composers- that's the law).

      Funds/levies compensate a fraction of the value of two copies, because not everybody likes something enough to buy two.

      1. Radbruch1929

        Re: Please explain ...

        > Because you didn't buy two copies.

        > (And don't blame me, or the musicians or the composers- that's the law).

        I politely disagree: the law is that you are not allowed to make copies of a work at all without permission. This permission is tailored in the way the licensor sees fit. The right to private copies is a consumer right to limit what would be seen as abusive "contract practices" (yes, I know, it is not really a contract). Imagine a software license that prohibits you from making backups.

        The directive's idea behind the requirement for compensation derives from the expectation that the work would see more use than usually expected at the time of the license if it is legitimately copied. With regard to software, IMHO the "additional use" from the backups is priced in. I doubt many people consciously buy software that is forbidden to be backed up.

        With regard to music etc., uk.gov might also be able to show that indeed the expected additional use is already part of the compensation paid to the licensor. Than "none" would be the required compensation.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Please explain ...

          I also politely disagree: UK case law predates the EU directive by several decades. As soon as compact tape and video tape arrived on the market along with consumer recording and playback equipment the industry was faced with the challenge of copying for personal use and basically lost the case.

          Furthermore, they have to justify the position they have taken over several years now with respect to devices such as those openly sold by Brennan, a UK company who do not pay a levy to the music industry for their devices and so totally relevant to the UK legal situation.

          So all the UK government are doing is bringing the law into line with normal consumer practice that has operated for over 30 years.

          It would not surprise me if this high court action is actually the first step of trying to take a case to the EU court, where the music industry holds out hope that it will ultimately find favour and overturn both UK law and precedence.

          1. strum Silver badge

            Re: Please explain ...

            >basically lost the case.

            Lost what case? As far as I am aware, there has never been any case law on this matter in this country (largely because the the record cos feared that they might lose).

            It remains a fact that, until this recent change, it was illegal to copy music - on to a cassette, CD, USB or anywhere. It's called 'copyright' for a reason. It may be bollocks, but it's the law.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: Please explain ... @strum

              >Lost what case?

              The written law may say one thing, but established and unchallenged practise (ie. something that has been openly done without legal challenge for at least ten years) can over ride...

              Hence because the industry decided back in the 70's and 80's not to challenge things and effectively gave a nod to personal copying, they have largely lost the protection of the law. To stand a chance of being successful the music industry will have to explain why the action they are taking to day is somehow different to what has gone before and hence attempt to override a well established precedence.

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