Another rant from Stu, this time about recent legislation in the UK regarding making back ups. “So what, given this new ruling am I supposed to do if and when my hard-drive goes belly up and refuses to let me at my precious music files?” 

It’s not often I get all serious and what not but this really did outrage me…In October of last year in the UK, the Copyright and Performances Regulations Act made it legal to rip and make back-ups of your music files (sensible), but it appears that this decision has been very recently overturned by High Court Judge Mr Justice Green, who said that the Act was unlawful because musicians were not being compensated for their work.
Basically what this overturning means, as I see it, is that if you want to copy a file you have legally downloaded, or want to rip a CD you have bought, you are in effect breaking the law…no, you are actually breaking the law!JUDGEBW

Having Their Cake And Eating It

Now I’ve been in bands and for many years made my living in various sectors of the music industry and I of course believe vehemently that musicians should be paid fairly for their work, but with regards to BASCA (who are the musicians’ union) and UK Music (who represent the industry), both of whom challenged last year’s ruling allowing ripping and backing up, this smacks of the music industry wanting to have their cake and eat it too…it reeks of wanting to squeeze the music consumer for every last drop they can and this does not a healthy customer relationship make.
Let’s face it, the music industry dropped the ball in the advent of MP3s and the subsequent downloading and file-sharing of music that went on, by not reacting fast enough and wanting to push the same formats, so they could cream as much dollar as they could from music lovers… and now they are gasping at the teat.
The long and short of this is that if I have bought a CD, record, or a download I should be free to make copies of this for my own personal use, be that in my home, on my portable music player, or for use in the car. To say otherwise is utterly preposterous, not to say wholly unworkable! When anyone bought vinyl records in the past, of course they would make tape copies of their favourites so they could play it in the car or on their Walkman…yes, by the letter of the law illegal, but by its very nature engaging the music fan more with music than they otherwise would have been and surely this is a good thing.

Back Ups Are Essential

We live in a world of computers, hard-drives, NAS-drives, and who knows what other drives and these, as I found out to my utter dismay this week, have a nasty habit of crashing and losing/corrupting data that you have stored on them. So what, given this new ruling am I supposed to do if and when my hard-drive goes belly up and refuses to let me at my precious music files? The way I see it is I must now go out and buy the same files I have downloaded again, which is utterly stupid logic in my opinion.

I can see the (false) logic from a business perspective; in the past vinyl, tapes and CDs in effect had a finite life span …unless you were very careful and kept them pristine …and you would of course have to go out and buy a new copy eventually, or accept you could no longer listen to a particular piece of music, but how
many people would do this in reality?

Die Hard

Now downloads and rips mean that your music can indeed last you a lifetime. Perhaps what they want is to make music a throwaway commodity, but I believe music is more important than that! I remember a few years ago an A List Hollywood celebrity (Bruce Willis no less) apparently starting a battle with Apple which would have allowed him to leave his legitimate digital download music collection to his offspring when he died – this suggests that we are no longer buying music but renting it …and I don’t like that!!!I don’t rent a car, I don’t rent a house so why should I be forced to effectively rent my music collection.

The potential market for buying music is growing massively and the way we can access music is changing. Would the musicians and their representatives not be better served in encouraging the purchase of affordable music that people then own, rather than musicians being paid a relative pittance and people accessing their music through streaming sites where they essentially rent the music? Again this just does not make sense to me!

Let’s not forget that music companies are invariably charging the same, or in some cases more for file downloads than they are for physical media …what’s all that about then?

Yes, THAT Is Naughty

Yes it is wrong to share your music files on the internet, or allow others to make copies of your CDs or vinyl records and I’m sure the vast majority of readers will agree with this, but this is not what we are talking about here and all the music industry seems to be doing with this silly overturning of a sensible law is alienating its customers.

The music buying public are not squeaky clean here either it must be said and there are cases of consumers taking the proverbial here too. I’m referring here to people selling off their CD collections as they had ripped them, backed them up and saw a fast buck …of course any sane person can see that this is wrong, both in the legal and the moral sense of things.
Engage Your Consumers

So is this new ruling practical in any way given that most of us have access to a computer that can rip CDs, not to mention plethora of specialist machines dedicated to ripping and storing your music? I don’t think it is in any way, shape or form workable in the everyday world and I think that the people representing musicians and the music industry would be better spending their time in engaging with music lovers, particularly the younger generation, who in the main see music as a free commodity, to encourage them into buying their music rather than stealing it from the internet.

Ripped Off

What I’m proposing here is that if music companies charged less for their music downloads, had them in higher quality and with the right to back up that copy, then more people would be prepared to recognise that the music industry is not trying to milk them dry and in return may well engage with the industry more. As it is the vast majority, and I’m talking Joe Public here rather than the folk who are likely reading Hifi Pig, will continue to feel ripped off and used by the industry and will disengage from it, resorting to nefarious means to get hold of their music …and down this road no one wins; the industry loses out because everyone steals their music and the industry shrinks because they don’t have money to invest in new talent, meaning there is less musical variety for the consumer …does anyone else see a n inevitable vicious circle forming here, or is it just me?.

Stuart Smith

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