Consumer group calls for private copying to be recognised

April 2010

All areas

Consumer rights group Consumer Focus have again called on the UK government to legislate to allow a clear right of private copying rights under British copyright law. At the moment it is illegal to make personal back up copies of CDs even when legitimately purchased and indeed it is illegal to ‘format shift’ tracks from a CD onto a PC or MP3 player. According to Consumer Focus research, over 80% of people are unaware of the fact that they are breaking the law and a survey of 2000 adults just 17% realised that making back up CDs was not technically allowed, while only 15% knew that CD tracks shouldn’t really be copied over to an iPod or similar. The 2006 Gowers Report recommended that the government “introduce a limited private copying exception by 2008 for format shifting for works published after the date that the law comes into effect”. According to the Intellectual Property Office’s website, consultation on that recommendation is expected to be launched in “late 2009”. Consumer Focus’ Jill Johnstone said “The credibility of UK copyright law has fallen through the floor. Millions of consumers are regularly copying CDs or DVDs and are unaware they are breaching copyright law. The world has moved on and reform of copyright law is inevitable, but it’s not going to update itself. If the government wants consumers to respect copyright law they have to stop sitting on their hands and bring the law in line with the real world”.

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