Private copying in the UK

In the UK it is illegal to copy music even for private use – e.g. from a CD to an mp3 player. However last year the UK music industry, as represented by Peter Jamieson of the BPI,  publically stated that it would not take action against a consumer for private copying:

“We believe that we now need to make a clear and public distinction between copying for your own use and copying for dissemination to third parties and make it unequivocally clear to the consumer that if they copy their CDs for their own private use in order to move the music from format to format we will not pursue them.”

 The Independent reports on how the Association of Independent Music is planning a complaint to the European Commission over UK goverment plans to legalise private copying. AIM originally voiced it’s objection to allowing private copying back in December 2006 when the recommendations of the Gowers Report were made public. They said:

“By tidying up a small part of the copyright law, we believe Gowers may well be opening the floodgates to uncontrolled and unstoppable private copying and sharing from person to person, as well as format to format.”

Whilst it is ridiculous, but not unknown, to have laws that are universally disobeyed, AIM’s contention is that the governments proposals apply to specific technologies at a specific point in time and with technology changing this proposed legislative change could be damaging to right holders in the future.

When you look at examples of how consumers can use technology to enjoy media in the home (e.g. see here at DLNA) it becomes clear that it may get harder and harder to draw a boundary round what is ‘private’ copying. Any legislative change will have ramifications far beyond circumstances envisaged by today’s politicians.

There will no doubt be more discussion when AIM publishes a forthcoming paper titled Copyright in the Digital Age.

Explore posts in the same categories: Legal and policy, UK

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