The music industry has claimed proposals to change New Zealand's copyright laws would destroy its business by "opening the floodgates" to piracy.
So said Sony Music's New Zealand chief, Michael Glading, in a Dominion Post story today.
"At the end of the day, you're sending a message that it's okay to copy, and that is going to kill our business," he said.
What Glading calls a "horrendous" proposal is a modification to New Zealand's copyright laws that would essentially permit one of 'fair use' rights US consumers already enjoy.
Like New Zealanders, UK consumers have no right to duplicate the contents of a CD they've legally purchased onto, say, a cassette to allow the album to be listened to in the car. Similarly, it is illegal in the UK and New Zealand to rip that CD to MP3 and transfer the files to an iPod.
US law, by contrast, makes provision for copying songs this way.
New Zealand's Economic Development Ministry has suggested a review of the country's Copyright Act that would allow a CD buyer to make a single copy for their own personal use. Essentially, the change would bring the law into alignment with something many music buyers are doing in any case.
It does the music industry no harm whatsoever since almost no one is going to buy two CDs, one for home and the other for the car, and perhaps a third version, by digital download, to store on an iPod. What harms the music business is the mass availability of downloadable tracks, and offering said remains illegal, even in the US (though using P2P software per se is not, of course).
According to the Post, the New Zealand government has agreed to make the change. The Act could be amended as early as the middle of the year. It would still make duplicating a CD for a third party, or copying a disc you don't own an illegal act.
Of course, there's no arguing with the music business that this change makes no difference to them. The industry, in the form of New Zealand's Recording Industry Ass., is spinning the change as a music pirates' charter. It argues that the change will enable companies to offer music copying booths to enable individuals to copy CDs.
But "copycat kiosks" issue can be fixed simply by wording the change to permit personal copies on the CD owners own equipment. ®