Space Shifting

What Does Space Shifting Mean?

Space shifting is digital media conversion from one format to another. It involves moving a digital asset from one platform to another by copying a protected digital work and then transferring it to another electronic device, allowing it to execute on a new device, usually a portable one. Some people argue that space shifting can be used to infringe copyright.


Techopedia Explains Space Shifting

Many people consider space shifting to be ethical and argue that it falls under the "fair use" doctrine. However, others do not see it that way, particularly copyright owners. Moving an MP3 song from a PC to a portable player is an example of space shifting. Although this is done innocently enough, many people do not think about the legal ramifications of distributing unauthorized copies of copyrighted works. Because it is very difficult to market and manufacture MP3 songs and prohibit copying from one platform to another, the digital copying security gap may never be closed.

When a consumer copies an original work, a brand new original is technically produced, but it is not usable until it is moved to the new platform. This is described as check in/check out. The act of copying a work from the original system is known as checking out, whereas the act of downloading it to the new system is called checking in.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.