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A victory for the masses?

August 4, 2011

(Picture creds to tapedeck.org)

I’ve been interested recently by the developments in copyright law that are being debated at the moment – specifically the focus on how people are legally entitled to use music that they have bought.

Not least because of these quotes:

“This brings the law into line with, frankly, common sense” (Vince Cable)

“In today’s world, this doesn’t reflect consumer behaviour. The new regulations will allow more flexibility for consumers to enjoy content they have paid for in the way they want to” (Susan Hall, media specialist at law firm Cobbetts LLP)

“The review pointed out that if you have a situation where 90% of your population is doing something, then it’s not really a very good law,” (Simon Levine, head of the intellectual property and technology group at DLA Piper)

This is supposedly all about making the law fit for purpose in a digital age. 

Surely this isn’t a new problem though? Back in the good old days when you moved stuff from CDs onto tapes so you could play it in the car. And even before that too.

Companies continue to make products that encourage this behaviour – even when they have to legally inform people that by using the product they are technically breaking the law.

At the end of the day they are making products that suit what their customers want.  It has come to a head because the digital age has resulted in a raft of products which are designed to rely on people to break the law.

Mr Cable might say that:

“A lot of this has to do with consumer freedom. We need to have a legal framework that supports consumer use rather than treat it as regrettable.”

I’m not sure that the motives are as pure as that.  I can’t see the government legalising drugs just because lots of people use them.  It’s more to do with wanting to stimulate invention within the British economy – since Google said that these laws would have prevented them from starting up in theUK.

It’s interesting that they phrase it as a victory for the consumer. Because it blatantly isn’t going to change a single thing about how people use media.

What will be more interesting is how this affects companies – and if there are new innovations that can be made in the field (not that breaking the law was holding them back).  

It should make it easier for Martin Brennan to get his ad published though…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 5, 2011 12:26 pm

    It used to be illegal to record a tv show onto video, but that was the whole point of the machine in the first place!

    • August 9, 2011 10:07 am

      So really not a new problem then! The law has never reflected consumer behaviour. Then again, the fact that consumer behaviour has the power to get people to change laws could be a little worrying…

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