It appears it’s not just governments who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near technology – it’s also courts. The UK’s High Court recently overturned legislation permitting citizens to duplicate copyrighted material for their own private use, and TorrentFreak confirmed with the UK Intellectual Property Office that the ruling really is as dumb as it sounds.

“It is now unlawful to make private copies of copyright works you own, without permission from the copyright holder – this includes format shifting from one medium to another,” a spokesperson informed us.

The IPO specifically notes that copying a CD to an MP3 player is not permitted. This means that iTunes’ popular ripping feature, which Apple actively promotes during the software’s installation, is illegal.

The ruling would also effectively outlaw Time Machine (as it copies music files), and the current behaviour of both iTunes Match and Apple Music, each of which copies music to a cloud server. And it’s not just citizens who fall foul of this law – Apple does too … 

By actively promoting the ripping of CDs, as well as encouraging uploads of your own music through iTunes Match and Apple Music, the company would be “actively facilitating copyright infringement,” which would make Apple a law-breaker too. That opens the door for copyright owners to hit Apple with hefty damages claims.

There is some small glimmer of sanity amidst the madness: the IPO says that it is unaware of any cases where individuals have faced legal proceedings for copying their own music for personal use. Just the same, it’s a pretty crazy situation where a court ruling turns a sizeable proportion of a country’s population into criminals, merely assuring them that they are unlikely to be prosecuted.

And with Apple having a keen interest in selling iTunes downloads and Apple Music subscriptions, there is even a possibility the company may decide to limit its exposure by removing the CD ripping functionality from a future version of iTunes.

Image: Artur K

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About the Author

Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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