UK Copyright Law Enters The Digital Age

Following a two-year legislative upheaval, as of the 1st June, UK residents will finally be able to legally rip CDs and DVDs for personal use, somethings that was previously illegal. The measures are part of a long-needed broader push of the UK government’s copyright laws into the digital age.

While for most consumers it is sensible and often necessary to make backups of the media they own, the practice was illegal in the UK prior to these new reforms. The government have now released a consumer guide to inform citizens of their new rights when it comes to copying media.

“Copyright law is being changed to allow you to make personal copies of media you have bought, for private purposes such as format shifting or backup,” the Intellectual Property Office writes. “You will be able to copy a book or film purchased for one device onto another without infringing copyright.”

In a statement, the IPO said that the changes have been made with a view to making copyright law more reasonable and “[removing] a range of unnecessary rules and regulations,” and expect “minimal impact on copyright owners.” However, the nation’s technology sector stands to benefit.

“This measure will benefit technology firms by removing barriers and costs and improving entry to technology markets which rely on consumers being able to make private copies,” lawmakers previously concluded (via TorrentFreak). The tech sector stands to see an extra £31m per year.

The reforms will also make it legal for citizens to store copies of their music and movies in an “online storage medium,” such as a private cloud, however the Government have stressed that offering access to these files to others, such as friends, will remain illegal and in breach of copyright law.

Fair use, recently championed by French outfit Phoenix, has also been addressed in the reforms, with UK residents no longer having to ask permission to quote from or parody the work of others, such as in a news report or a book, so long as use is “fair dealing” and the source is acknowledged.

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