Legalize It!! (Ripping CDs and DVDs… that is…)

NMA covered the release of a review of UK IP and Copyright law regarding copying music and films from CD or DVD to digital devices.

The report, “The Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth”, aims to push these industries to expedite solving problems like ownership protection, competing with free alternatives and monetising content.

Some of their recommendations include relaxing rules around digital archiving, doing more with data and analytics and the creation of a way to simplify the exchange of licensing, rights and content.

I haven’t read the report, but think this is a great idea. Having moved from California to London nearly 5 years ago and not able to bring my 500+ CDs and 1,000+ albums with me, I’ve found myself needing to re-create my collection digitally. I resent the music industry for the notion that I have to buy the .mp3 version when I’ve already paid full price for the CD back home. I find it ridiculous that I can “buy” a movie on Apple’s iTunes store and download it to my computer, but that I’m not allowed to burn it to a DVD to watch at a friend’s house.

Obviously doing this would make it more likely that I would burn a few copies and give them to my friends, and therefore this is why such intense effort is made to protect these rights… however at the moment the current stance causes more frustration than it does solve problems. And the fact that I paid £10 for Star Trek and then couldn’t burn a DVD to watch has made me decide to never buy another film from iTunes again. I have all the cables I need (at £20-£30 each) to hook my computer up to someone else’s TV but a) I don’t always want to bring my laptop with me just to watch a movie… b) I could be in a hotel or on holiday somewhere that doesn’t allow me to hook things up to the TV in the room… c) I could be at someone’s house with a TV so old that I can’t hook my laptop up to it…

If I’ve paid £10 for Star Trek, I should be able to watch it anywhere I want to. On any device that I want to.

The software industry have come up with some decent solutions to this. I bought a copy of a very cool software sampler by Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU) called MachFive. It requires an “iLok” device which stores my license on it. The programme won’t open without this iLok. Perhaps there could be a peripheral device, or even better an RFID chip in my wallet that would allow the computer, tablet, mobile phone or TV/DVD player to recognise that I hold a license for the song/movie in question and unlocks it based on that basis.

I could burn as many DVDs as I want to and give them to as many people as I want to, but without the chip in my USB stick, or my wallet (or my arm… it’s coming people), the DVD wouldn’t play.

Or just do what iTunes does and allow for X number of devices, (or X number of reproductions) that the file can be used on.

Of course, there will always be geeks and hackers that write code that breaks your system. But as iTunes has proved with music sales, there are better ways to protect yourself from the digital content revolution than to try to ignore it, or stop it from happening.

I applaud the UK government for exploring new options and look forward to reading this report in detail, or more importantly, being able to enjoy my copy of Star Trek on more than my laptop in the future.

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