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UK wants to make CD rips legal.


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lesles avatar
Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 22:04
Author:
One unique feature of UK copyright law is that ripping songs from a CD isn't allowed. Despite the fact that everyone does it in order to move music to their iPods or computers, the majesty of the law frowns upon the practice (and you don't want the majesty of the law frowning at you from beneath that creepy wig). That could change soon as Lord Triesman, Minister for Intellectual Property, today announced a consultation on IP reform that could make format shifting a legal right.

Triesman's proposal (PDF) follows the recommendations of the Gowers Review of intellectual property laws in the UK that was completed in December 2006. Part of that report recommended giving consumers several important new rights, including a right to parody and format-shift copyrighted material.

Triesman now seeks comments from the public and from corporate stakeholders on the ideas, which include an explicit format-shifting exception to copyright law. The exception would cover only "personal or private use," would not apply to multiple copies, and would not apply if the owner then gives away or sells the copies.

Letting consumers rip their own albums for playback on personal devices might seem like a simple policy to implement, but the consultation raises a number of questions:

* What is meant by personal and private use?
* How many format shifts should be allowed?
* Would the exception apply to works created or purchased after the exception was introduced or would it be acceptable to format-shift back catalogs?

Lord Triesman also proposes additional exceptions for education (allowing distance learning students the same access to copyrighted materials that students in traditional classrooms have) and a new parody exemption (parody of copyrighted material is not necessarily allowed in the UK). Given the many solid recommendations made by the Gowers Report, it's heartening to see that the government is serious about implementing them... even if it is moving slowly.

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