The Advertising Standards Authority has banned advertising for a CD jukebox because it promotes piracy.
The ASA, which is a self regulatory organisation with no powers to interpret or enforce legislation, has used a nonsensical UK copyright law which has been dropped by just about every forward thinking nation on earth in order to ban an utterly innocuous advert for the Brennan JB7 hard-drive-toting CD player.
The device rips audio CDs into an MP3 format and stores them on an internal HD, effectively turning the device into a home jukebox.
A single complaint from an unnamed individual resulted in adjudication which was published late last week and, quite frankly, beggars belief in the 21st century.
The ASA ruled that national press adverts for the device, which promises to "save space and clutter and deliver near immediate access to an entire music collection," was encouraging piracy because it didn't point out that format shifting - the process of turning one media format into another - is still illegal in the UK without seeking permission from the copyright holder.
3GA Ltd, the company which sells the Brennan players in the UK, maintained that, as was not aware of any owners of the product "being charged for, or convicted of infringing copyright." there was no evidence that the ad incited consumers to break the law.
3GA also said that it believed two elements of copyright legislation could be interpreted as being applicable to consumers who enjoyed their music using such devices, because they were essentially music players and, provided the user was playing music they were legally entitled to listen to, the fact there was an electronic copy was incidental and had 'no independent economic significance'.
The ASA noted that the product's advertising repeatedly made reference to the benefits of being able to copy music without making it clear that to do so was illegal without the permission of the copyright holder and banned the ads in their current form on the grounds that they were illegal and misleading.
"We told 3GA to ensure future ads for such products prominently stated that it was unlawful to copy material without the permission of the copyright owner," said an ASA statement.
We've contacted David Brennan, the device's inventor and CEO of the Cambridge-based electronics outfit, and offered him a chance to respond to this unfathomable ruling.
In the meantime, anyone who has ever ripped a music CD to MP3 using iTunes or Windows Media Player, or duplicated a CD to play in the car, had better watch out for the knock on the door from the copyright cops.
Bunch of criminals, every one of you.
The UK Government is currently awaiting the results of the Hargreaves Review which will almost certainly bring the UK's copyright laws, particularity on 'fair use' and format shifting, into line with the rest of the world which doesn't pander to the music industry's every whim.
The BPI has called for levy on hardware to claw back the 'losses' allegedly caused by rampant piracy according to its own made-up numbers.