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iTunes ‘Illegal’ in Britain after Core Functionality Attacked by High Court

A core function of one of Apple’s leading products has been attacked by a ruling in the UK’s High Court, in what some reports suggest renders iTunes illegal in Britain.

Torrent Freak reports that copying CDs that you already own into MP3 format for storage on another device such as a laptop, iPod, iPhone, or even in the cloud is now illegal in the United Kingdom unless the copyright holder is first consulted.

Britain’s High Court has apparently overturned legislation introduced last year that confirmed the process as legal, and the UK Intellectual Property Office said at the time that the changes were “in the best interest” of consumers.

Torrent Freak reports:

However, the new regulation was short-lived. Fearing a loss of income several music groups objected at the High Court, which subsequently agreed that the new legislation is unlawful.

As a result the changes were overturned last month and the previous limitations were reinstated. To find out what the public can and can’t do under the law, TF reached out to the UK Intellectual Property Office, which provided some very clear answers.

“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.

Also, under the current law iTunes is actively facilitating copyright infringement by promoting their CD-ripping functionality. This means that the company could face significant claims for damages.

But the situation may not last, according to reports, with many already complaining that the change in law is archaic.

A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) spokesman told the Mail Online: “The Government is considering the implications of the court rulings and the available options.”

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