Internet Licensing Laws – UK

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The problem with many of our laws relating to licensing and copyrights, is that most of them were developed long before the introduction of the internet. Take for example the laws that govern the requirements of TV licences in the UK.    At the moment you can actually watch the lots of UK TV channels online without needing a TV license.  Now a few years ago that would have been unlikely to tempt many people from abandoning their TVs to computers.  But nowadays the line between TVs and computers is very blurred – we have internet enabled TV sets, super fast broadband and a myriad of devices able to store TV channels.

Suddenly the requirement of an expensive  TV license doesn’t seem so necessary.  Clearly there is confusion in the market and the BBC Trust is mooting changes to clarify the situation (and obviously force more to buy a license).   A BBC spokesman said –

Legislative change is likely to be required in order to reflect technology changes in the licence fee regulations,”

One of the biggest loopholes is the fact that if you don’t watch the shows live then you don’t need the license.  So presumably you could set your TV or media device to download or store the show and watch a few minutes later.  The license costs about £142 or about $250 so it’s a significant expense that can be avoided each year.

There are other confusions experienced across the planet.  Most media channels block access to their content outside their countries borders.  Hulu is only available in the US, M6 Replay only in France and the BBC technically in the United Kingdom.  Of course these restrictions are frequently bypassed online – there are loads of internet sites explaining how you can watch anything online.  This one for instance shows how to watch BBC Iplayer – http://www.proxyusa.com/bbciplayerabroad2012.   Are these methods illegal – well probably not with current legislation but of course there are lots of legislation pending in the US and across the world that might change this situation.

IN other countries the legislation is different of course, which is the huge problem for people attempting to regulate the internet.  Whether you need to access BBC Iplayer in the UK or ABC Iview, the problem is still the same – your IP address, wherever you are defines what you see.

There’s one thing for sure if you want to specialize in a fast developing and probably controversial area of law – the media might very well be for you.

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