All is not jolly in ol’ England– the high courts just reversed a decision that had allowed UK citizens the right to rip media (songs and movies) to their computers for personal use, something we take for granted here in the United States. While this rule is practically unenforceable on a consumer level (and nobody has been persecuted for ripping music yet though copyright holders certainly have the right to sue anyone they deem in violation), it has sweeping repercussions for Apple whose software like iTunes, Apple Music and iCloud will now be banned under UK law.
Apple isn’t the only one who suffers, the UK has essentially outlawed copying in any form. Want to xerox a page out of a textbook? Illegal. Want to make a backup of your computer hard drive? Illegal. Want to convert a PDF to an image file? Illegal. The UK has decided that consumers can’t own content– only the medium on which the content is contained. So when you buy the new Compton CD you’re buying just that… a CD that happens to have the album on it. You own the CD and not the album. Weird right?
As ridiculous as it sounds when applied to a practical, physical situation that everyone can relate to, this is exactly how music streaming works. Let me explain:
When you pay Spotify or Pandora or Apple Music or even Netflix, you aren’t paying for content. Sure, you think you’re paying for content but less than half (much less) of that cash goes to content creators… most of it goes to the PLATFORM CREATORS. You’re paying for the platform, the medium on which you enjoy the content! It is similarly illegal in the US to rip media from a digital stream using a computer (see the Audio Home Recording Act and DMCA). The UK high courts just took what the industry is doing with streaming and applied it to all forms of media which makes some sense since a majority of content is digital anyway.
I’d love to stick an Uncle Sam meme right here about how ‘merica is the best and how we totally won the Revolutionary War so the government couldn’t egregiously rule over the minute details of its citizens’ lives but I mean shit, we practically invented this whole streaming-freemium-subscription nightmare. This is capitalism at its finest: turn goods into services and then charge a subscription. You know what you don’t hear the industry fat cats complaining about anymore? Downloading Music. Ever wonder why? We’ll let you put 2+2 together…
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