- SMB Spotlight
The UK has adopted legislation that provides the right to format shift, or rip hard-copy media such as music CDs, for private use.
The loosening of the rules, which was first discussed in 2006, has won the backing of organisations including the Open Rights Group and DigitalEurope. Both of which welcomed the support for the act from the House of Lords.
Dame Lucy Neville-Rolfe, a conservative member of the House of Lords, explained the update to her peers, and countered concerns over copyright. "I am aware that some parties remain concerned about the scope of the change proposed and its impact on creators' livelihoods," she said.
Neville-Rolfe said that while some countries add a levy charge to MP3 players, as a means of drawing back money, this may not work in the UK. "The government does not believe that British consumers would tolerate private copying levies. They are inefficient, bureaucratic and unfair, and disadvantage people who pay for content," she added.
"That is why the government's exception is narrow in scope. It will not allow you to give or sell copies to others, and therefore will not lead to lost sales to copyright owners, making the need for a levy unnecessary."
The relaxation of the law has been welcomed by digital campaigners. "We congratulate the UK government on this exemplary legislation which sets the benchmark for Europe in the future," said John Higgins, director general of DigitalEurope.
"The private copying exception model introduced by the UK government is fully aligned with this objective, and DigitalEurope strongly hopes that it will become a role model for the broader EU-wide reforms of copyright law that are likely to begin in the coming months."
The Open Rights Group, which has campaigned in favour of format shifting and the right to create parodies for some time, also welcomed the introduction.
"Most people aren't even aware that by copying their own legally purchased CDs to their iPod or making spoofs such as Downfall parodies, they have been breaking the law," said executive director Jim Killock.
"Thanks to these changes, the government has taken this significant step towards making copyright law reflect the way we actually use and share content in the digital age. Contrary to what copyright lobbyists claim, updating the law will actually benefit rights holders by ensuring we have a stronger, more legitimate copyright regime."