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IPPR Urges Changes To UK Copyright Laws

by Robin Pilgrim, LawAndTax-News.com, London

31 October 2006


A report published on Sunday by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has suggested that UK copyright law should be changed to include a ‘private right to copy’ that protects users of ipod and other MP3 players.

The UK’s current copyright laws mean that millions of UK citizens break the law each year when they copy their CDs onto their computers, leading IPPR to suggest that the forthcoming review of Intellectual Property, set up by Chancellor Gordon Brown and chaired by Andrew Gowers, should update the 300-year-old copyright laws to take account of the changes in the way people want to listen to music, watch films and read books.

The Institute stated that:

"IPPR recommends a legal ‘private right to copy’ that would allow people to make copies of CDs, or DVDs for personal use. The report says a new right would legalise the actions of millions of Britons without any significant harm to the copyright holders."

Dr Ian Kearns, IPPR Deputy Director, explained:

"Millions of Britons copy CDs onto their home computers breaking copyright laws everyday. British copyright law is out of date with consumer practices and technological progress. Giving people a legal ‘private right to copy’ would allow them to copy their own CDs and DVDs onto their home computers, laptops or phones without breaking the law."

"When it comes to protecting the interests of copyright holders, the emphasis the music industry has put on tackling illegal distribution and not prosecuting for personal copying, is right. But it is not the music industry’s job to decide what rights consumers have. That is the job of Government."

The report, entitled 'Public Innovation: Intellectual property in a digital age', additionally recommends that:

  • The Government should reject calls from the UK music industry to extend copyright term for sound recordings beyond the current 50 years. The report argues that there is no evidence to suggest that current protections provided in law are insufficient; and
  • The Government should act to ensure that Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology does not continue to affect the preservation of electronic content by libraries. The British Library should be given a DRM-free copy of any new digital work and libraries should be able to take more than one copy of digital work. It also recommends that circumvention of DRM technology should stop being illegal once copyright has expired.


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