[AI] Is it legal?
ilovecold at gmail.com
Fri Sep 24 06:45:07 EDT 2010
As I found this article interesting, I am pasting here. I would like to know How Indian copyright laws deal with digital materials and technical complications mentioned in this article.
UK copyright law is a confusing mess where nobody's quite sure what they're
allowed to do. David Ludlow cuts through the legalease to find out what you can
and can't do with your computer
We all know that downloading movies and games over BitTorrent is illegal, but
what are our legal rights when it comes to handling content we've paid for? A
recent survey by Consumer Focus, a statutory organisation campaigning for a fair
deal for British consumers, found that 73 per cent of the 2,026 people asked
were "never quite sure what is legal and illegal under current copyright law".
The main confusion was around digital technologies and issues such as ripping a
CD for use on a computer or copying files to an MP3 player.
It's a damning statistic and shows just how complicated modern life has become
and how out of date our copyright laws are.
The biggest problem is the wash of misinformation out there. It's obvious that
it's illegal to download copyright-protected material from the internet, but
what about making copies of TV programmes or computer games that we've bought?
People often mention concepts such as 'fair use' and claim this gives them the
right to make a 'backup' copy. Unfortunately, many of these pieces of so-called
wisdom aren't true, and by using your computer in this way, you may well be
breaking the law. Fortunately, we're here to help with our guide to what you
can and can't do.
off The reCorD
The massive popularity of iTunes and the iPod, not to mention devices designed
for making backups of old records, would seem to imply that you're legally
allowed to transfer any music you've bought to your computer. Sadly, this isn't
the case and converting your CDs, vinyl collection or cassettes to MP3 is
actually illegal unless you own the copyright for the material.
The reason that copying your own music is illegal is that it's not really yours.
When you buy an album or single, you pay for the right to use that music in the
purchased format, and not to do with it as you see fit. Converting a disc to
MP3 format and listening to it on your computer or MP3 player is completely
There is a silver lining to this, which is reassuring but further complicates
the issue. The British Phonographic Institute (BPI), which represents the
established music industry in the UK, has stated that it won't prosecute anyone
who converts music they've bought into a digital format. In other words, while
copying music is illegal, doing so for your personal use won't get you into
trouble with the BPI, which is the only large organisation in the UK likely to
sue over music copyright violations.
The rules are different for music downloads, as the format requires you to make
a digital copy of a music track or album. This means that making copies is
acceptable within certain criteria. When music was first sold online, it used
Digital Rights Management (DRM) to restrict the number and types of devices on
which the tracks could be played. Today, no stores use DRM, which means the
tracks downloaded could technically be copied any number of times and played on
practically any device. What you're allowed to do with downloaded music depends
similar sets of conditions under which you can use the downloaded music. You're
usually granted the right to copy, burn and use tracks for your own personal
For example, the Amazon MP3 Music Service grants you a "non-exclusive,
non-transferable right to use the Digital Content for your personal,
non-commercial, entertainment use, subject to and in accordance with the Terms
of Use. You may copy, store, transfer and burn the Digital Content only for
your personal, non-commercial, entertainment use, subject to and in accordance
Of course, there are restrictions too. To paraphrase the following, you can do
what you like with the music, as long as you keep it to yourself. In Amazon's
case, you agree that "you will use the Service only for your personal,
non-commercial, entertainment use and not for any redistribution of the Digital
Content or other use restricted in this Section 2.2. You agree not to infringe
the rights of the Digital Content's copyright owners and to comply with all
applicable laws in your use of the Digital Content. except as set forth in
Section 2.1 above, you agree that you will not redistribute, transmit, assign,
sell, broadcast, rent, share, lend, modify, adapt, edit, license or otherwise
transfer or use the Digital Content. You are not granted any synchronisation,
public performance, promotional use, commercial sale, resale, reproduction or
distribution rights for the Digital Content. You acknowledge that the Digital
Content embodies the intellectual property of a third party and is protected by
While this might sound a little confusing, the upshot is that you can back up
any music file you've downloaded, transfer it to CD or a music player and use it
as you see fit. The key phrases are "only for your personal... use" and "you
will not redistribute". If your handling of the music files is for your own
use, without commercial interest, you're not breaking the law or the terms of
use set out by the music service.
Digital licences are far less restrictive than those that cover a physical
product, but there's still an issue around what counts as personal use. In
effect, personal use allows you and members of your household to use the music
you've downloaded (or ripped from CD, if you choose to accept the BPI's
assurance). Provided the people you share your music with live at your home,
you should be fine. Some services don't specify limits on this, but others do.
For example, Apple imposes the following limit in its terms and conditions of
"You shall be authorised to use the Products on up to five devices (such as a
computer) with the iTunes application installed at any time, except in the case
of Film Rentals."
The general rule is that if you use and share your music fairly inside your
home, you won't get into any trouble. Start distributing files far and wide and
you'll run into problems.
AT The MoVIeS
Wouldn't it be great to have an entire movie collection on your hard disk so
that you could access any of your films at the touch of a button? Sadly, as the
law currently stands, this is very unlikely be a legal option. As with music,
the act of copying a DVD or Blu-ray disc is illegal. The group that protects
the copyright of films and TV programmes, the Federation Against Copyright Theft
(FACT), has never said that it won't prosecute people for copying discs they own
for their own personal use.
What's more, films almost always feature digital copy protection, which encrypts
the movie data and makes it harder to copy. The very presence of the encryption
adds further protection from another law called the Copyright and Related Rights
Regulations 2003. This makes a criminal offences of "manufacturing for sale or
hire, importation, advertising or marketing a service the purposes of which is
to enable or facilitate the circumvention of technical measures" and "providing,
promoting, advertising or marketing a service the purpose of which is to enable
or facilitate the circumvention of technical measures".
In other words, software that would let you copy a protected disc is illegal to
sell and perhaps even to buy in some circumstances. It's also illegal for
magazines such as Shopper to promote it. This is rather an odd law, as it
completely ignores how the software might be used. For example, such software
can be used to remove the copy protection part of a Blu-ray disc that stops it
playing on a digital display that lacks high Definition Content Protection
(hDCP) encryption. This kind of software can also allow a PC to play a disc
encoded to any region, which means UK consumers could play discs set for use in
the US. Using this kind of software is currently illegal even if you don't copy
the disc and, therefore, don't break conventional copyright laws.
Bizarrely, under current law it's not illegal to buy pirate DVDs - only to sell
them. This leads to the strange situation where doing something that takes
money away from the copyright holder is permitted, but using movies at your
convenience is breaking the law. Buying a pirate DVD and copying it remains
illegal because you'd be making a copy of content that's protected by law. This
is why downloading a film using BitTorrent is illegal, as you're making an
illegal copy of the film.
Film downloads from places such as the iTunes store have similar limitations to
music, but the important difference is that they're protected by DRM. This is
unlikely to change in the future. The limitations imposed by DRM differ from
service to service, but they're usually similar. Typically, you authorise a
computer to play a specific film, and you're usually allowed to transfer this to
a portable device. The DRM stops you transferring the film to a friend or
sharing it online.
It's also possible to rent movies and TV shows online. Again, DRM plays an
important part in dictating what you can and can't do. Typically, the system
lets you start watching it at any time during a 30-day period. however, as soon
as you click the play button, you have just 48-hours to complete your viewing.
The film or show can usually be viewed an unlimited number of times during this
The UK law was changed with the advent of video recorders to let people record
television programmes. however, the key phrasing of the law is that this is
allowed for "time shifting" only. In other words, you're allowed to record
anything on television to watch at a more convenient time but you're not allowed
to record programmes and keep them indefinitely. This law applies to all forms
of recording, whether you're using an old VCR, a hard disk recorder or a PC with
a TV tuner in it.
The popularity of catch-up services, such as the BBC's iPlayer, changes the
situation slightly. What you're allowed to do with the files you download
depends on the service you're using, so read the licence agreement carefully.
Most have similar restrictions to iPlayer, so by using the service you agree
"not to attempt to, or assist any other person to, copy, reproduce, lend, hire,
broadcast, distribute or transmit in any other way the BBC Content in whole or
in part other than by using the 'link to this Feature' or as permitted in these
Terms or to circumvent or remove the digital rights security measures embedded
in the BBC Content."
As with other forms of DRM, bypassing the BBC's DRM is illegal. Paid-for rental
programmes, such as those from iTunes and BT Vision, have more severe
restrictions, and the DRM usually forces you to watch the rental during a set
period. See the Movies section (above) for details.
BooKS AND MAGAZINeS
Books and magazines are protected by copyright, so you're not allowed to make
copies of them except for personal research purposes (see the 'Fair dealing in
UK law' box on page 117), subject to certain terms and conditions. This means
that scanning a book and storing it on your computer is illegal. however, there
are exceptions to this rule. If a title is out of copyright (see the box above
for more information) you can make a copy of it legally.
For example, you could scan it into your computer. Google has done this with
its Books service ( http://books.google.com).
You need to be careful, though. When a book or magazine is out of copyright,
its words enter the public domain, but the pictures or artwork inside are not
necessarily also free to copy. In fact, publishers often commission new artwork
for different printings of a title, and these have separate copyright to the
now that eBook readers are becoming more popular, a growing number of titles are
available in digital formats. The rules governing what you can do with these
vary depending on the type of eBook you have. First, there are books that you
can download for free from sites such as Project Gutenberg ( www.gutenberg.org).
These books are scanned from titles that are out of copyright and converted to a
range of formats for eBook readers and PCs. The important thing about these
books is that they're out of copyright in the US, but not necessarily across the
rest of the world. Before you download a title, check that there isn't still a
UK copyright on the work. Provided the author has been dead for 70 years or
longer, you'll be able to get the title for free.
The second type of digital books are those that you download from bookstores
such as CoolerBooks ( www.coolerbooks.com). These are protected by DRM and must
be copied to an eBook reader using Adobe's Digital editions application.
Depending on how you set up your software, the books you download are either
restricted for use on a single computer or can be copied on up to five devices,
which you authorise against your Digital editions account. Trying to remove the
DRM is against the law.
Any software you buy is governed by a licence that states what you can and can't
do with it. Typically, you're allowed to make a single backup of the
installation media, but you should read the licence agreement to check what
you're allowed to do in each case.
For example, Microsoft lets you back up your Windows 7 installation disc. As
set out in the end User license Agreement (eUlA): "If you acquired the software
on a disc or other media, you may make one backup copy of the media.
You may use it only to reinstall the software on the licensed computer."
If you download your software, similar rules exist and you're usually allowed to
make a single backup of the installation file. Microsoft has this to say about
downloaded versions of Windows 7: "If you purchased and downloaded the software
online, you may make one copy of the software on a disc or other media in order
to install the software on a computer. You may also use it to reinstall the
software on the licensed computer."
At this point, you may be wondering what happens if you make a full backup of
your PC using the built-in imaging software in Windows 7. Technically speaking,
if you make multiple images of your PC, you're also making multiple backups of
your software, so you could be in breach of some software licences. That said,
you're unlikely to run into any problems using this method, as these backups are
stored in files that can't be accessed without the backup software and can't be
used to install software from scratch. What's more, Microsoft provides its own
image-based backup software with Windows 7, which you can configure to run on a
schedule, creating multiple backups.
Technically speaking, computer games should fall into the same category as
software, allowing you to make a backup of the installation media. however,
this isn't necessarily the case. A big problem is that games developers often
use copy protection to prevent their titles being copied and redistributed.
Breaking the copy protection to make a backup violates the Copyright and Related
Rights Regulations 2003 laws, in the same way that copying a DVD does. This is
despite what you might read to the contrary on websites that specialise in
providing tools to copy games.
Downloaded games are subjected to a similar licence agreement as downloaded
software. Read this licence before you make any copies to make sure you're not
breaking the law.
The law can certainly be confusing when it comes to copyright and computers, and
what you're allowed to do is often dictated by the industry group responsible
for the content. The BPI says it won't try to sue you for copying your music
CDs, while the film industry body FACT claims that it will prosecute if you copy
Further complications are added by our odd copyright laws, which make software
and tools that can break copy protection or DRM illegal. This further limits
what we can do with digital files. It's clear that the law needs to change, as
we're moving into a world where we expect to be able to view our media where we
want, when we want. We shouldn't be restricted by outdated concepts designed
for music, films and software that are packaged on a single medium.
In the meantime, you need to make sure you stay on the right side of the law.
Read the terms and conditions of the online stores from which you buy digital
media, and check the licence agreement for any software you own to make sure you
don't fall foul of the law. Don't download any software that tries to break DRM
or copy-protection, as you'll be breaking the law.
For legal grey areas, such as copying CDs to your computer, the rule is to be
careful. As long as you're only doing it for your own use and that of others in
your household, you're unlikely to run into any trouble with the law.
Unfortunately, that's as unambiguous as it gets.
Fair Dealing in UK laW
The UK has a specific section of its copyright laws that deals with exceptions.
These Fair Dealing exceptions outline the situations where copyright law doesn't
apply. The following examples are permitted, as long as they're limited to a
certain degree and don't infringe the work of the copyright holder. If you're
in any doubt as to whether or not what you want to do falls under Fair Dealing,
you should contact the copyright holder and ask for permission to use the work,
or contact a lawyer who specialises in copyright law.
research For non-commercial anD privaTe sTUDy
This allows you to make photocopies of a small number of pages from a book,
provided that your research has no commercial application.
criTicism, revieW or reporTing cUrrenT evenTs
This allows journalists to quote from a source for the above purposes. There
are limits, and you shouldn't use more of the source than is required for the
purpose of criticism and review. You should quote the original source.
This deals with accidentally capturing a copyrighted work, such as in the
background of a home video.
British libraries have a special privilege that allows them to lend copyrighted
works, although there are still a number of restrictions.
This exception was introduced in 1988 as a result of the growing popularity of
video recorders, and extends to any modern recording device, such as the Sky+
box and other hard disk recorders. The limitation of the exception is that you
may only record things with the specific intent of watching them at a more
convenient time, not keeping them indefinitely.
creaTing a bacKUp oF a compUTer program For personal Use
Software, both on disc and downloaded, can be backed up, although the
restrictions in place depend on the accompanying licence.
When Does copyrighT expire?
copyright exists for a limited period, after which a work is in the public
domain and can be copied freely. This is why you can download free electronic
books from www.gutenberg.org.
Copyright differs depending on the work, the identified authors and the country
of origin. The length also differs between countries, so a work may be in
copyright in one country and in the public domain in another. In the UK,
copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years and applies to all
literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. If a work has more than one
author, it expires 70 years after the death of the last survivor.
A publisher's copyright is separate, and lasts 25 years from the end of the year
in which it first published the work. This applies to all printed works
including books, magazines and newspapers.
For films, copyright is determined by the life of the principal director,
screenwriter, author of the dialogue and composer of any original music. If
none of these people is listed, copyright lasts for 50 years.
Computer-generated works also have a copyright of 50 years from the creation of
the work. TV and radio broadcasts made before 1956 have no copyright; those
made after are copyright for 50 years.
Copyright lengths can change over time. In the US the Sonny Bono Act, as it was
known, extended copyright, although the extension depended on when the work was
created. The act was also known as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act, as it
stopped Walt Disney's early Mickey Mouse cartoons entering the public domain.
UK copyright law was also extended in 1995 from the author's life plus 50 years
to the author's life plus 70 years. It was applied retrospectively to all
works, which was good news for Great Ormond Street Hospital, as it extended its
copyright of Peter Pan until 31st December 2007. The hospital also gained a
perpetual extension to some of the work's rights, entitling it to royalties for
any performance, publication or adaptation of the play.
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