LAST EDITED ON 08-06-02 AT 12:35 PM (GMT)
In an effort to clear up the perenniel question of whether or not it is 'legal' to video and swap programmes from TV, I have done some research this week.
Though I spoke to the DTI (Dep. Of Trade & Industry), the government office responsible for UK copyright matters, and to their patent attorneys, R G C Jenkins & Co, I am not very much the wiser; neither of these two parties would - or perhaps could - give me a definite answer one way or the other, despite both being as helpful as possible.
The Copyright, Design & Patents Act 1988 dictates the law on all UK copyright matters. As I have not had time to go through the whole of this lengthy Act, I am am assuming that following reference -singled out for me by both the DTI and the attorneys - applies only to material which is not commercially available, which is worth bearing in min when you consider that most of the current cultural output of the cable and satellite channels IS commercially available.
'Recording for purposes of time-shifting.
70. The making for private and domestic use of a recording of a broadcast or cable programme solely for the purpose of enabling it to be viewed or listened to at a more convenient time does not infringe any copyright in the broadcast or cable programme or in any work included in it'
This would seem to indicate that it is permissable to record only for the purposes of watching at a later, more convenient time, but read the following significant extract from a commentary on the Act in the standard textbook Copinger and Skone-James on Copyright:
' (The Act) makes provision to enable broadcasts or cable programmes to be recorded, for example by means of a tape-recorder or video-cassette recorder, to enable them to be heard or seen at a later date. Thus the Act provides that it is not an infringement of the copyright in a broadcast or cable programme or any work included in it to make a recording for private or domestic use if it is solely for the purpose of enabling it to be viewed or listened to at a more convenient time. Or, apparently, a more convenient place: Hansard, H.L. Vol. 501, col. 267. It appears that when recorded in this way the copy is not an infringing copy for any purpose. example, the type of provision contained in s.68(4) of the Act.] Thus, for example, films which are broadcast may be copied for this purpose and then kept and viewed in private for an unlimited period. There is therefore nothing to stop private individuals building their own "film library" of such films, or even selling such original copies, provided they were not made for this purpose and provided also that copies of the films are not thereby issued to the public. '
Make of that what you will. I would say the words 'Or, apparently, a more convenient place' may be the most significant part of this extract, but I couldn't find the related Hansard reference on the internet.
Here's a link to the relevant section of the Copyright Act: