Digital player maker ‘incited consumers to break the law’, says ASA

May 2011


The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have ruled that technology firm 3GA Limited must change the way it advertises its digital music player because the adverts encourage members of the public people to copy music and infringe copyright law. The ASA has told 3GA Ltd to find a new way to advertise the Brennan JB7 machine, which is a CD player with a hard disk. The machine records CDs, tapes cassettes or vinyl records on to its hard disk, which the company claims can hold up to 5,000 albums.

The ASA found that 3GA’s adverts misleadingly implied that it was acceptable to copy music from discs and tapes on to the machine. In particular the copy said “It [the JB7] saves space and clutter and delivers near immediate access to an entire music collection” and “JB7 owners rediscover then fall in love with their music again simply because the Brennan makes it so accessible. The Brennan also records from vinyl and cassette so you can enjoy your entire music collection but keep it out of the way in another room or retire it to the attic.”

In its defence 3GA had argued that “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,” arguing that use of the JB7 was specifically allowed by legislation under fair dealing provisions because the economic impact on the copyright owner was not significant.”

However the ASA said that the adverts had the potential to mislead consumers with regard to copyright law ruling that “[The advert] repeatedly made reference to the benefits of the product being able to copy music but did not make clear that it was illegal to do so without the permission of the copyright owner,” said the ASA ruling. “We considered the overall impression of the ad was such that it encouraged consumers and businesses to copy CDs, vinyl and cassettes” and “In the absence of prominent explanation, we concluded that the ad misleadingly implied it was acceptable to copy CDs, vinyl and cassettes without the permission of the copyright owner,” it said. “We also considered that the ad encouraged people to use the advertised product in this way and that, therefore, it incited consumers to break the law.”

And see more recent comment on ‘Crazy’ copyright laws in Britain in the Telegraph

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