The UK’s High Court has turned all of its computer users into outlaws overnight, in a new ruling that makes it unlawful to create a copy of copyrighted content, without the direct permission of the copyright holder.
The new law means UK citizens can no longer create backups of their computer (because pretty much every PC has copyrighted content). You’re also not allowed to rip your CDs into iTunes or convert media files into another format, which means Apple’s software services like Time Machine and iTunes are now considered illegal.
To find out exactly what citizens are and are not allowed to do, TorrentFreak got in touch with the UK Intellectual Property Office and got some pretty clear cut answers.
“It is now unlawful to make private copies of copyright works you own, without permission from the copyright holder – this includes format shifting from one medium to another,” a the spokesperson told TF. “It includes creating back-ups without permission from the copyright holder as this necessarily involves an act of copying.”
Because Apple promotes iTune’s ripping feature during installation, the company is actively facilitating copyright infringement and makes the company vulnerable to facing a huge claim for damages from the music industry. Why would the music industry possibly take advantage of the situation and sue Apple? Music groups objected to the High Court last year when the UK government legalized copying for private use, claiming they’d lose income.
Copyright holders previously suggested taxing blank CDs and hard drives in exchange of implementing a private-use exemption. Despite the strict new laws, UK citizens probably shouldn’t worry about getting thrown in the slammer for running Time Machine or ripping your CDs.
“The Government is not aware of any cases of copyright holders having prosecuted individuals for format shifting music solely for their own personal use,” the IPO spokesperson says.