General law and morals of copying films

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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JasonS
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General law and morals of copying films

Post by JasonS » Mon Feb 20, 2012 1:05 pm

Let me start by saying I really dislike the free copying of media and am firmly against doing it - I believe artist should be paid fairly for what they do and that if you enjoy media you should pay for it.

My question is about what this exactly means in different circumstances.

So, I have a media centre PC and I buy DVDs and rip them to the PC to watch - I consider this "fair use", although I know circumventing the CSS is breaking the law.

I also record a lot of films on my free-view recorder, and then transfer them to the PC to store and re-watch. In doing this I edit out the adverts.

I also record things like The Simpsons and transfer this over.

Where do I stand on copyright with these latter two?

If it is deemed to be ok to record broadcast media and keep it (thus saving the cost of buying the film on DVD), what constitues legal practice here: what is the difference between doing that, and downloading the film that someone else has recorded from the TV as long as I was in a position to have recorded it myself (but didn't)?

Example: I've been recording Spooks as it has aired on broadcast TV but missed the first series. I can download the first series from a BitTorrent, and I find it is a recording someone else made from the TV (i.e. not a DVD rip). Is that different from recording it myself, and if so, why?

Same with the Simpsons, over the years I may have recorded almost all of them from broadcasts but may be missing a few, if I download these from someone else who has recorded them, is that illegal?

I suppose there is a format issue - I can't, for example, rip a friend's DVD of Red Dwarf (notwithstanding the illegality of CSS cracking) to replace my version recorded on VHS ten years ago, because the DVD version is better quality, etc, and so it is not like-for-like; but does that extend to media which is broadcast and recorded digitally? In what way is this media different from the DVD which makes copying from DVD illegal?

I'd love a discussion on this, because I just don't know. Thanks.

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Mon Feb 20, 2012 5:40 pm

Hi Jason,
You raise some interesting issues. Many of the arguments about format shifting of both music and video for personal use (eg music on CD to MP3 or ipod) have been put forward as recommendations of the Hargreaves Review and have been accepted by the government, although quite when the change to the legislation will take place is not known.
So in time much of what you want to do will be legal as long as it is for your personal use. Indeed at present the record companies have stated that they will not seek to prosecute any one who wishes to use format shifting of music for personal use, before the law is changed. The movie industry haven't gone that far and, given their hardline approach to illegal file-sharers, it would be foolhardy to jump the gun on movie format shifting until the law has been changed.

The other issue you raise is the existing exemption for video-recording off-air. What the law says is:
70 Recording for purposes of time-shifting.
(1)] The making in domestic premises for private and domestic use of a recording of a broadcast solely for the purpose of enabling it to be viewed or listened to at a more convenient time does not infringe any copyright in the broadcast or in any work included in it.
(2) Where a copy which would otherwise be an infringing copy is made in accordance with this section but is subsequently dealt with—
(a) it shall be treated as an infringing copy for the purposes of that dealing; and
(b) if that dealing infringes copyright, it shall be treated as an infringing copy for all subsequent purposes.
(3) In subsection (2), “dealt with” means sold or let for hire, offered or exposed for sale or hire or communicated to the public.

As you can see there is no time limit set on how long such a recording may be kept, and 'lending' your copy to someone else is also not specifically prohibited, although if you operated a library service of such material that would constitute 'communicating to the public' so would be illegal, as would uploading your recording to BitTorrent for others to download.
Clearly when the law was written, the kind of recording envisaged was on cassette tapes or reel-to-reel for radio broadcasts, and VHS for televison broadcasts. Theoretically nothing has changed with digital recording and devices like the Sky plus, even though these technologies make format shifting (as well as time-shifting) much easier.
So until we see the exact wording of the proposed new legislation to allow format shifting there will continue to be anomalies like those you have highlighted, and the equally odd situation where it is permissable to make back-up copies of computer programs which come on CDs or DVDs, but not to make back-up copies of films or music which come on the same media, and which are arguably more likely to get damaged through repeated playing.
Last edited by AndyJ on Mon Mar 12, 2012 10:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

JasonS
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Post by JasonS » Mon Feb 20, 2012 6:44 pm

Thanks for your considered response, the time you spent is appreciated.

It does seem to me that copyright law and practice has, on the one hand, a fair degree of pragmatism and, on the other hand (the digital hand), anachronistic straitjackets. Presumably, in time, it will be revised and refreshed to make it more joined-up.

Do you know if the ban on circumventing CSS applies in the UK as it does in the 'states, creating an anomoly where format-shifting a DVD is fair use, but cracking the CSS is illegal?

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Post by AndyJ » Mon Feb 20, 2012 7:47 pm

Hi Jason,
Yes circumventing 'technical measures' designed to prevent copying is generally illiegal under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act. You can read the details here.
The particular anomaly you mention is covered in Section 296ZE (Remedy where effective technological measures prevent permitted acts), whereby if an act of permitted copying is prevented by some technical measure, a person affected by this can seek assistance from the Secretary Of State (ie the Business Secretary) who can order the technical measure to be removed. Hopefully a new law on format shifting will address this issue in a more practical way and either ban technical measures, or provide a sensible workaround to meet the situation.
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Post by JasonS » Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:22 am

Cool, have you got his number? I could do with some help copying Tron 8)

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Post by bwooten » Mon Mar 12, 2012 9:39 am

Well, when you read on the actual law that surrounds copying of materials, what you are doing is actually part of the piracy they call of.

And when you actually do that,then you are supporting piracy even though you claim to despise it.

And this could be considered as another case of being, to some degree, hypocrite about it. So if you really are against piracy, then this should be stopped as well.

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