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RIANZ says it's okay to break copyright law 9 July 2004 Edition
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Regular readers will know that I have little time for Michael Gladding (he also has little time for me after this interview) and the attitudes of RIANZ when it comes to the "fair use" of music recordings that customers have paid good money for.

After listening to him stalking on National Radio yesterday morning I have to say that my opinion of the man and the organisation he heads has sunk even further.

If you didn't hear the interview then zip over to the Xtra website (try this direct link to the streaming media file or this webpage) and look through the Radio NZ audio archives for the week. It's in part 2 of the 9 to noon programme from Thursday July 8th just after a song by the Momas and Papas -- about four and a half minutes from the start.

The focus of the interview (which included Judith Tizard MP) was the proposed change to copyright law that will allow the legitimate purchasers of copyrighted recordings to perform format shifting -- ie: copy their CDs onto their computer, MP3 player or whatever.

True to form, Gladding was absolute opposed to the suggestion that format shifting be made legal, even though he admitted that it was widespread and that something that he had done himself.

He then explained that the industry had never prosecuted anyone for format-shifting and it was unlikely they ever would. To emphasize this he trotted out the cheesy motto "We'll tolerate the exception if you'll tolerate the rule".

"We're not against copying" he said, "we've never had an issue with people shifting their music say to their IPOD or even to their car."

He added however, that "if this law change is made it threatens our [the NZ recording industry's] whole existence".

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At one point Linda Clark asked "How do you use a CD burner legally?"

To which Gladding replied "We do realise that this is a technical breach of the law."

Clark also asserted "So you sell a gadget when you know the only way people can use that gadget is to break the law"

To which Gladding replied: "yes"

So there you have it folks -- Michael Gladding, representing the RIANZ, is promoting law breaking by his customers in order that they can use his (as head of Sony NZ) mini-Disc players, CD burners, etc.

This must surely leave any thinking person wondering whether Gladding is a fit and proper person to be the head of either organisation. Personally, I find it difficult to give any credibility to someone who openly and publicly not only admits repeatedly breaking the law, but also encourages others to do the same.

And if, as we're told by Gladding, it's okay to ignore this part of the copyright Act, why on earth should we bother observing any other part of it?

Surely, if Mr Gladding and the RIANZ believe that it's okay to format shift then they must also support changing the law so that such actions are no longer illegal -- but they don't support such changes and predict all manner of horrible repercussions.

Gladding claims that "if that happens in New Zealand, the multinational record companies will flee this country" -- and we're supposed to believe him.

During the course of the interview, Gladding let another little gem of information out when he said "EMI are about to introduce disks that, whereby when you put it the computer to make your copy, it comes up with a licensing agreement on the screen."

It looks as if the recording industry is going to try and introduce the electronic equivalent of a click-through End-user-licensing agreement, such as that found on most software packages.

Unfortunately for Mr Gladding, a growing number of computer users are either no longer using MS Windows or have twigged to the fact that holding down the shift key while inserting a CD will completely bypass such a crude attempt to limit their freedoms and compromise their rights.

And, if you think the government is on top of this problem in addressing the issue of format shifting, be aware that the proposed changes still won't give you the right to backup your legally purchased music CD or make a copy for use in the car stereo (where the copy-protected original probably doesn't play anyway).

Indeed, Tizard hinted that there may be a clause that expressly forbids CD to CD copying because -- it's not format shifting.

On numerous occasions during the interview, Gladding rudely talked over the top of the other two parties in a manner that did his case no good at all.

At the end of it, I came away thinking -- the RIANZ still doesn't have a clue in respect to dealing with changing technology or treating their customers like valuable assets rather than criminals.

Go listen to the interview and share your thoughts in the forums.

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