MP3, DVD and CD Copying is Now Legal in The UK (For Some)

Soon, UK citizens are free to copy MP3s, CDs and DVDs for personal use. The UK copyright law revisions, some of which went into effect this month, will legalize this common form of copying. Major changes already went into effect for disabled people, who can now copy and publish copyrighted works if there's no commercial alternative.

uk-flagMost people in the UK may not have realized it, but every time they backed up an MP3 or made a copy of a CD or DVD for personal use, they were breaking the law.

Starting today this is no longer the case for disabled people, thanks to a revision of copyright law that just went into effect. Disabled citizens can now copy and publish copyrighted material if there’s no commercial alternative available.

“Disabled people and disability groups can now make accessible copies of copyright material (eg music, film, books) when no commercial alternative exists,” the Government announced today.

Previously the Government also said that all private copying for personal use would be legal starting in June, but this has apparently been delayed pending Parliament approval.

However, following a thorough inspection of local copyright legislation the UK Government has already committed to change current laws in favor of consumers.

“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 UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) previously announced.

“The changes will mean that you will be able to copy a book or film you have purchased for one device onto another without infringing copyright.”

In other words, people will be free to rip CDs and DVDs or backup their MP3s to an online storage provider, without risking legal trouble. The Government emphasizes, however, that it is still not allowed to share these personal copies with the rest of the world.

“You will be permitted to make personal copies to any device that you own, or a personal online storage medium, such as a private cloud. However, it will be illegal to give other people access to the copies you have made,” the IPO explains.

It is no secret that several entertainment industry groups are wary of the new copying regulation. However, before implementing the changes the Government carefully researched the economic impact for copyright holders, concluding it to be minimal.

On the other end of the spectrum, it’s expected that the technology sector will greatly benefit from the newly gained freedom. The revised copying rules are expected to generate an additional £31 million in revenue per year. This money will come from consumers who use services and products to assist their copying needs.

“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,” the IPO predicts.

Besides new private copying rights, the upcoming amendments will also broaden people’s fair use rights. For example, people no longer have to ask permission to quote from or parody the work of others, such as a news report or a book, as long as it’s “fair dealing” and the source is recognized.

A complete overview of the changes, and how they apply to the public, are summarized in a handy guide published by the UK Intellectual Property Office.

Update: This article initially stated that the general private copying restrictions were also lifted, as announced previously and still listed in the consumer guide. However, these still have to be approved by Parliament. The article has been updated accordingly.

TorrentFreak asked IPO to clarify the confusion and we will post the response here when it comes in.

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