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Sunday, 13 April 2008

Format shifting: the MBG responds

Last week, the IPKat belatedly notes, the Music Business Group unveiled its collective submission to the UKIPO on private copying and format shifting, in response to the proposed changes to copyright exceptions as recommended by the Gowers Review -- the most contentious of which is the proposal to implement an exception for format shifting without compensation. The MBG is an informal cross industry body comprising the BPI, AIM, BACS, BMR, MPA, MCPS-PRS, MMF, MPG, MU and PPL. According to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) press release

"We acknowledge that consumers clearly want to format shift and also place enormous value on the transferability of music. Music fans clearly deserve legal clarity in this area as well as the freedom to enjoy any music they have legitimately obtained.

But it is not only music lovers who benefit here. Enormous value is derived by those technology companies and manufacturers who enable consumers to copy. UK creators and rights owners are legally entitled to share in this value – as they hold the exclusive right to reproduce their music – but are currently excluded from the value chain.

The UK IPO’s current recommendation also leaves the UK at odds with the rest of Europe. In every other major European territory, an exception for private copying is counterbalanced by mechanisms that compensate creators and rights holders.

...

To restore a balance of copyright – one that allows consumers to enjoy their music, that drives technological innovation, and reinstates music creators’ and rights owners’ place in the value chain – the MBG is proposing to UK IPO an easily-implemented, flexible, future-proofed and transparent solution: an exception subject to licence.

The purpose of this proposal would not be to legitimise the wholesale copying and sharing of music, but to allow consumers to transfer music they have purchased onto their portable devices, while ensuring that a fraction of the value is enjoyed by those who create music and invest in its creation. The licensing scheme would be restricted to copying in the offline world".
The IPKat notes the reasoned and measured tones of this response, which compare favourably with some of the more apocalyptic "end of the world" utterances that could be heard at an earlier stage of the debate. Merpel adds: it's certainly tidy-minded to go for a solution that is not out of step with the rest of Europe, but would the failure to achieve a pan-European solution create the sort of economic imbalances that the European Commission so fears, rather than mere injustices with which it feels it can cope?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is taking us back to the 60s when every record sleeve had a notice inviting consumers to apply for a licence before shifting the format to tape.

The only person who ever applied for such a licence was Bernard Levin, who wrote an article complaining when they cancelled the scheme.

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