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High Court quashes private copying exception

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MontyPythonIn October 2014, new legislation came into effect that legalised format shifting (e.g. CD-ripping or e-book conversion etc.) for private non-commercial use. However, a High Court judgement before Mr Justice Green issued last week quashed the Statutory Instrument used to bring in the legislation. This means that ripping music and films you own is illegal, again.

The judicial review was brought by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA), the Musicians’ Union and UK Music in November 2014, shortly after the law came into force.

In it, Mr Justice Green considered that the Government’s approach during the consultation process for the changes was unlawful as it did not introduce a compensation scheme for copyright holders to account for any revenue lost to legalising private copying. This is despite the four-month delay in introducing the private copying exception, originally slated to come into force in June 2014 in parallel with other exceptions to copyright infringement.

It remains to be seen whether the Government will attempt to reintroduce private copying exceptions with amendments in light of the decision.

The exceptions to copyright infringement introduced alongside Personal Copies for Private Use (namely those for Quotation and Parody, Disability, Public Administration and Research, Education, Libraries and Archives) are unaffected by this judgement.

Laurence Lai  21 July 2015

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