'Government should legalise private CD copying' - report

30 Oct 2006

Think tank urges Britons should be allowed to copy music for personal use

A think tank has asked the UK government to change a 300-year-old law that would allow private copying of music and films for personal use. The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) says that such a move would shield those who transfer their CDs onto their iPods and other MP3 players from prosecution.

In its report, Public Innovation: Intellectual property in a digital age the IPPR urges the Government to create a legal 'private right to copy' that would allow people to make copies of CDs, or DVDs for their own use. The report argues that such a change would recognise the shift in the way people want to buy and use music and other copyright material.

'Millions of Britons copy CDs onto their home computers breaking copyright laws everyday,' said Dr Ian Kearns, IPPR's Deputy Director. 'British copyright law is out of date with consumer practices and technological progress. Giving people a legal 'private right to copy' would allow them to copy their own CDs and DVDs onto their home computers, laptops or phones without breaking the law'

Such a change in the law would also decriminalise the millions of British citizens who copy CDs and DVDs they already own onto iPods and other MP3 and MP4 players. Many of these people will be unaware that they are breaking the law.

The report also recommends that the Government should reject calls from the British music industry to extend copyright terms for sound recordings beyond the current 50 years. The report argues that there is no evidence to suggest that current protections provided in law are insufficient.

Any change in the law is likely to be resisted by the music industry which will argue that by allowing the creation of some 'personal use' copying of copyright material, it would legitimise the use of copying as a whole and open the floodgates to a new wave of piracy. However, the report points out that 'it is not the music industry's job to decide what rights consumers have. That is the job of Government'.

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