Oct 31 2006

We’re all criminals

Published by at 10:05 am under Comms,Music,Tech

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Am I the only one today who’s wondering whether, perhaps, the IPPR doesn’t have enough to think about?

To be fair, I’ve not read their latest 104-page report, entitled Public Innovation: Intellectual Property in a Digital Age, in full. But a quick snapshot of the consequent media coverage has left me wondering what all the fuss is about.

Yes, today’s copyright statutes are a little outmoded. As is so often the case, legislation has failed (OK, admittedly by a couple of centuries) to keep pace with technology. But claiming we’re all criminals is going a bit far. Besides, the BPI reassured us back in June that sporting a pair of white headphones was unlikely to attract the attention of their legal team.

Before the , before mp3 and yes, even before the Compact Disc, I spent much of the 1980s making ‘mix’ tapes on my twin-deck ghetto blaster (with graphic equaliser and turbo-woofer, thankyou), for listening to in my cutting edge .

Sometimes I made copies of my own music, either because attempts at a vinyl-playing Walkman were guaranteed to fail, or because I knew my Mum’s car stereo had a habit of chewing tapes and I wanted to preserve the original.

Sometimes, shock horror, I copied my friends’ music. Sure, you got added hiss and crackle, but it was free. And when those new-fangled CD things came out, even the quality wasn’t too bad.

Fast-forward a couple of decades, and all that’s changed is the medium. People still copy their own music, to make it portable. And they still copy their friends’ music – it’s free, and only feels a little bit naughty. Home taping hasn’t killed music, any more than video killed the radio star.

Strictly speaking, then, the IPPR’s probably right. But aren’t there one or two more important bits of broke legislation that need fixing?

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