updated 11:05 am EDT, Wed August 3, 2011
UK copyright law updated to reflect 'reality'
Vince Cable, the United Kingdom's Business secretary, has announced major changes to that country's copyright law concerning digital media. The government will legalize "format shifting," or allowing consumers to rip content from CDs and DVDs for personal use. The government will also reverse part of last year's Digital Enforcement Act, which would have blocked websites for hosting copyrighted material. Cable said the law needed to change to conform to reasonable expectations of consumers. "We've got to bring law in line with reality," he said.
Millions of UK consumers regularly convert music and movies into digital format, although most may not know it is technically illegal. Many other countries, including the US and most European countries, allow format shifting for private use.
It would still be illegal to make copies and share them online.
The changes are based on a review of UK copyright law's relevance for the digital age. Cable said the changes would allow consumers and businesses to operate more freely, protect genuinely creative artists, and penalize pirates.
Response to the changes has been mixed. ISPs had been concerned about the blocking provisions, which would have allowed copyright owners to force them to cut off some sites. UK Music, represents musicians and record labels in the UK, was critical of the decision. CEO Fergal Sharkey claimed the changes would force most music businesses and artists to spend "millions" on legal fees to protect their work. [via BBC News]