UK Legalizes CD Ripping and Cloud Backups Today

Starting today UK citizens are free to copy MP3s, CDs and DVDs for personal use. After an unexpected delay, UK copyright law was amended to legalize this common form of copying. In addition, the changes also broaden other forms of fair use, including parody and quotation rights.

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Earlier this year the UK Intellectual Property Office announced that the changes would go into effect in June. However, when June came around the most crucial changes were still pending Parliamentary approval.

These final issues were resolved this summer and after a brief delay private copying is now legal.

This means that people are now free to make copies of DVDs, CDs and other types of media, as long as they’re for personal use and without copyright protection. In addition, it’s no longer copyright-infringing to store copies of legally purchased media to the cloud.

“These changes are going to bring our IP laws into the 21st century,” IP Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe says commenting on the changes. “They will mean that the UK IP regime will now be responsive to the modern business environment and more flexible for consumers.”

The changes aim to fix the mismatch between the law and public opinion. A Government-commissioned survey previously found that 85% of consumers believed that DVD and CD ripping was legal already, while more than one-third of all consumers admitted that they’d made copies of media they purchased.

Besides the 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.

For the public the amendments are certainly a welcome change from the more restrictive copyright laws that were previously in place. For those who are interested, a full overview of the upcoming changes is available here.

Update: The time-shifting reference was removed from this article, as that was already allowed under a previous amendment. Apologies for the confusion.

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