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UK Legalizes CD Copying

CD-R, duplication, NewsNancy Woo30 December 2012

It’s a seemingly archaic law that prohibits consumers from burning or ripping music, movies or other digital content onto a personal computer, mp3 player, disc or the web. In an age driven by accelerating technology, online social networking and a prolific web presence, the concept of digital file sharing has become deeply ingrained in the habits of hip, savvy content consumers. Though punitive response is generally low for the crime of ripping content illegally, most countries recognize copyright laws that prohibit content burning.

Happily for content consumers in England, the UK government recently made it legal to burn content from CDs to a computer or mp3 device for personal use, though ripping to DVD is still considered an illegal activity. DVD’s Technical Protection Measures (TPM) still outlaws copying film on DVD to a personal device. It is also still illegal to transfer files from person to person.

Business secretary Vince Cable said the updated law was “not only common sense but good business sense.” He remarked that the law would increase respect for copyright laws by making them more realistic in the current marketplace, while still intending to protect content creators for their work. He said that this law strikes a good balance between allowing consumers to enjoy the music they have purchased, while not giving too much free reign to steal content from legitimate artists.

Some creative artists, or the rights holders to the music, asked Cable to introduce a new tax on blank CDs in order to compensate for sales lost online, but Cable responded that it would be such a minimal gain for artists that it wouldn’t make sense to press the pockets of already strapped consumers. The report in which the law was stated says that it would be “unlikely to result in a significant loss of licensing revenue.”

Copyright laws are meant to protect the creative works of artists, but in this day and age, it can only be a good idea to compromise between the realities of the digital landscape in order to protect more serious copyright issues. Is it really so terrible to copy the content from a CD you actually purchased onto your own computer or mp3? Finally, the UK doesn’t think so. Other digital sharing activities like uploading files online for download without permission are still illegal, and there are still much bigger fish to fry than an innocent bit of content duplication.

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