UK copyright laws “needlessly criminalise” music fans and need to be updated and Consumer Focus say that UK laws that make it a copyright violation to copy a CD that you own onto a computer or iPod should be changed. The call came after global umbrella group Consumers International put the UK in last place in a survey of 16 countries’ copyright laws. Consumer Focus said the UK had to catch up with the rest of the world. “UK copyright law is the oldest, but also the most out of date,” said Ed Mayo, chief executive of Consumer Focus. “The current system puts unrealistic limits on our listening and viewing habits and is rapidly losing credibility among consumers. A broad ‘fair use’ exception would bring us in line with consumer expectations, technology and the rest of the world”. Consumer Focus point out that whilst it is currently a copyright violation in the UK to rip a CD that you own on to your PC or iPod, over half (55%) of British consumers admit to doing it and three in five (59%) think this type of copying is perfectly legal. The watchdog’s call was backed by digital rights campaign body the Open Rights Group, which called for a “more flexible” approach to copyright. The report provoked some quick responses with Feargal Sharkey telling Music Week “claims that Chinese and Indian consumers have greater freedoms to access copyrighted works than UK citizens are as ludicrous as they are offensive. I would [definitely] query why a British public body – and member of Consumer International – would support this survey and feel it appropriate to use public funding to attack British industry in such an unsubstantiated and damaging manner”. The head of the UK’s Intellectual Property Office, Ian Fletcher, said “We reject the misleading accusations made in this report, and believe that the UK’s copyright system does a good job of balancing the interests of rights holders and users. A strong and effective copyright system is in the interests of both rights holders and users. Our UK system, ranked highly in a recent independent 2008 survey by IP law firm Taylor Wessing, has enabled our world class creative industries to flourish and, indeed, they contribute over 8% to the GDP. Each and every one of us benefits from this rich content environment”.
See also the ARTICLE by Richard Wary in the Observer, 26th April 2009 looking at the UK’s Minister for In Intellectual Property David Lammy: Internet pirates beware: this man is out to stop you can be found at