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U.K. Relaxes Copyright Laws

22 Dec, 2012 By: Chris Tribbey


United Kingdom residents can now legally make copies of their DVDs, CDs and other copyrighted works for personal use, thanks to a government ruling. The decision brings British law more in line with the rights Americans have enjoyed for decades under the “fair use” doctrine.

Before the Dec. 20 announcement by the United Kingdom’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, it was technically illegal for disc owners to make digital copies of content they own for personal use. The new provisions also update copyright exemptions for education and research purposes.

“Making the intellectual property framework fit for the 21st century is not only common sense but good business sense,” said U.K. business secretary Vince Cable. “We feel we have struck the right balance between improving the way consumers benefit from copyright works they have legitimately paid for, boosting business opportunities and protecting the rights of creators.”

The exemptions — which are already allowed under European Union law — cover personal space-shifting use (or moving content from one device to another) for games, photos, films, books and music.

The updated copyright law permits “people to copy digital content they have bought onto any medium or device that they own, but strictly for their own personal use.” Teachers and news reporters also have more freedom to use copyrighted works, and the law now allows for limited copying of copyrighted works for parodies and caricatures.

Both the U.K.’s Musicians’ Union and the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) expressed disappointment with the decision, arguing that British artists deserve compensation for content that would otherwise be downloaded digitally.

“An exception to copyright, without compensation, for us, is employment without payment,” said BASCA chair Sarah Rodgers. “This decision makes songwriters and composers vulnerable to erosion of the value of our creative works and what we are able to earn from their use. It is wrong from both a commercial and a moral standpoint.”

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