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Has the UK entered digital prohibition?

12 Aug 2015

The UK government’s sometimes bizarre battle against copyright infringement has taken another strange turn.

Having blocked online access to piracy sites, a huge number of brits adopted counter measures, rendering the digital blockade useless. Now Torrent Freak report that the UK High Court has overturned private copyright exceptions in a move that could see millions of ordinary people breaking the law. 

Want to use iTunes to rip a CD into your music library? That’s now illegal. Need to back up your PC? Even if it’s got copyrighted content purchased from one of the many legal online media services, you’re breaking the law.

This craziness happened after the UK's intellectual property office recommended copyright exceptions that took modern digital media usage into account.

Groups representing the music industry objected and the UK's High Court made the exceptions illegal.

While the music industry may make a few extra bucks, the UK’s legal system could be swamped as millions of Brits unwittingly break the law by merely transferring music to media players, ripping CDs and backing up copyrighted content. The cost of enforcing this for UK taxpayers could be be huge.

Philosopher George Santayana coined the phrase “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. 

I wonder if these high court judges should have listened to George and perhaps taken a close look at the failed prohibition experiment of the 1920’s. 

In the US, Booze was outlawed. Even so most people kept drinking. Worse still, prohibition led to the growth of organised crime as gangsters like Al Capone sold hooch by the ton.

Many Similarities also apply here. Just because something has been made illegal, doesn’t mean it’ll lead to any practical and measurable outcomes. 

Over the last decade, people have become habituated into using digital media in very specific ways. Making them into potential criminals isn't likely to see this change any time soon.

What's clearly needed is technology refresher courses for these Luddite high court judges so they can better understand the full implications of their ill informed rulings. They obviously don't have a clue.

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