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Finnish gov will not criminalise MP3 players - officials

May ban copy-protection circumvention, though

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Fears that Finland's upcoming new copyright legislation would de facto render MP3 players illegal are unfounded, Ministry of Justice officials have claimed.

Like the US' Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and laws enacted by other European Union member states under the direction of the European Union Copyright Directive (EUCD), Finland's proposed new law would ban the circumvention of copy protection mechanisms. That said, the law does make it possible to copy music for personal use, which gives, say, CD owners the right to rip songs in order to transfer the songs to an iPod Nano.

Indeed, such a freedom is not granted to other European citizens. English law, for example, does not permit recording owners to make copies for personal usage beyond certain academic/study purposes, technically rendering the act of transferring a CD - even a CD you own - to an MP3 player illegal.

That doesn't render iPods illegal, incidentally, because they have substantial non-infringing uses, such as holding tracks for which the player owner holds the copyright, or for licensed copies like those downloaded from the iTunes Music Store.

In Finland, Jukka Liedes, an official with the Ministry of Justice, yesterday claimed bypassing copy protection for the purpose of make a copy for personal use only would not be criminalised under the new law, Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reported today.

The bill goes before the Grand Committee of Finland's Parliament today. The Committee has the right to amend the proposed law, and it appears likely a change removing the copy protection circumvention clause may be suggested.

Finnish Minister of Culture Tanja Karpela yesterday called on the Committee not to make such a change - or the new law may fail to meet the requirements of the EUCD. ®

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