A ruling by the High Court of the United Kingdom has effectively rendered iTunes and similar software illegal, as copyright legislation now bans the transfer of copyrighted works from one medium to another.
The law–apparently unknown to most people in the UK–is actually an overturning of a recent change in legislation. Such copying had technically been illegal for decades, and it was only in 2014 that exemptions for the private copying of material were originally introduced in order to bring copyright law more in line with modern technology. However, the change was quickly disputed by groups including the Musicians Union and the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, and their campaign has now seen the legislation overturned.
In a statement made to the copyright news website TorrentFreak, the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) said that “It is now unlawful to make private copies of copyright works you own, without permission from the copyright holder” noting that this also includes the copying of legally purchased material to an MP3 player or CD–a key feature of Apple’s iTunes software and one that is actively promoted by the company’s advertising–meaning they are also breaking the law because they are “actively facilitating copyright infringement.”
People of the UK needn’t be worried though, as such laws are rarely enforced, a fact that will be apparent to anyone who carried out the technically illegal practice of taping songs off the radio in the ’80s or ’90s. The British Government is also unsupportive of what they describe as a “complex area of law,” noting that it is up to copyright holders themselves to make a case for copyright infringement, something which would prove practically impossible in everyday use. So there’s no need to worry about SWAT teams descending from your ceiling if you’re copying a few tracks to your iPhone.