CD ripping to be permitted following UK copyright reform

CD ripping to be permitted following UK copyright reform

Summary: The UK government has announced changes to how it will enforce copyright that will allow individuals to reproduce copyrighted material for personal use.


Copying music, film and other digital media for personal use is to be made legal under changes to how the UK government enforces copyright.

The changes will be introduced in 2013 and will enable third parties to reproduce copyrighted work without permission from rights holders when copying works for individual use, parody or quotation. They will allow people to legally rip MP3s from their CDs and copy digital versions of films they own, a practice that is currently illegal, although no one is prosecuted for it.

"Making the intellectual property framework fit for the 21st century is not only common sense but good business sense. Bringing the law into line with ordinary people's reasonable expectations will boost respect for copyright, on which our creative industries rely," said business secretary Vince Cable in a statement on Thursday. 

"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."

Cable announced the changes in response to the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth (PDF), which was commissioned by David Cameron and published in May 2011. Professor Ian Hargreaves concluded that "the UK's current system is falling behind what is needed, especially in the area of copyright" and recommended that the UK adopt "an approach to exceptions to copyright which encourages successful new digital technology businesses both within and beyond the creative industries".

In August 2011, the government said it broadly accepted every one of the report's recommendations.

What do the changes mean for you?

The changes mean it will also be possible for non-commercial researchers focusing on areas such as big data to use computers to study published research results and other data without breaching copyright laws. 

Teachers will be able to reproduce copyrighted materials on interactive whiteboards and via digital handouts over "secure" connections, without fear of breaching UK copyright.

Teachers will be able to reproduce copyrighted materials on interactive whiteboards and via digital handouts without fear of breaching UK copyright

In addition, it will be possible for individuals to copy sound recordings, films and broadcasts for private study and non-commercial research. 

Several of the new changes are only applicable providing the copying is done on what the government refers to as a "fair dealing" basis, which is similar to the "fair use" system in the US but not as permissive. 

It will also be possible to quote copyrighted works for any purpose as long as the source is acknowledged.

The government is estimating that the changes will encourage innovation and boost the UK economy by more than £500m over the next 10 years.

The news follows changes to the patent application system earlier this week, which enable individuals and organisations to pay a fee in order to obtain a decision on their patent application within 90 days.

Topics: Piracy, Government UK, Legal, United Kingdom

Sam Shead

About Sam Shead

Sam is generally at his happiest with a new piece of technology in his hands or nailing down an exclusive story. In the past he's written for The Engineer and the Daily Mail. These days, Sam is particularly interested in emerging technology, datacentres, cloud, storage and web start-ups.

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  • Just as well, really.

    Oherwise they'd probably need to arrest the entire population of the UK :-).
    • This is great news

      I can come out of hiding for ripping those two Spice Girl singles onto cassettes.
      Little Old Man
      • But ripping "Cliff Richard" songs will still be a stoning offence!

        On matters of "Good Taste" alone, never mind his campaigning for extending copyright law...
        • Yes that is shocking

          On both counts, the worst being the increase from 50 to 75 years.
          Alan Smithie
      • Careful...

        ...the law hasn't come into effect yet.
  • Wait for the bill before celebrating

    Her Majesty's Government could slip all sorts of interesting things in the actual proposal, but tentatively, it looks like good news.
    John L. Ries
    • Perhaps its just to help themselves your data legally.

      You are aware that every byte of data that flows out of your router is to be eavesdropped by GCHQ?

      Well that means some government clerk will be listening to your record collection in the Cloud while surfing your documents, twitter and facebook for terrorist activity - and they wouldnt want him to be doing that illegally now, would they?

    • John .. to be sure

      If, it is in the truest spirit of rationality, than it does (at least on the balance of evidence) a common sense move by the British Govt.

      This sanity prevailing over the insane is way out of place in these times ... i rank it in the "Man bites dog" category. ;)
  • In reality it's still illegal to copy most DVDs/Blu-rays

    It's still illegal to circumvent copy protection. The law just legitimises what people have been doing for over a decade, ever heard of anyone arrested for ripping a CD?
    • So stop ripping write-protected CDs

      Even ones with lame mechanisms like those put out by Sony.
      John L. Ries
  • big step forward for education!

    as well as being common sense law for private individuals it is going to relieve a lot of pressure in education where at the moment lecturers can copy materials on paper but risk breaching copyright by putting them inside a secure virtual learning environment. At the moment they have to fill in paper forms every year for every article they want to reproduce - this change will save a lot of time and unnecessary paper chasing in Universities and colleges.

    I just hope the substance of the change will be as straightforward as it seems here - I worry that powerful media lobbyists will try to complicate it with lots of "buts" The government should stand firm on this and say "we will tackle real piracy but in return media owners must play fair with people who buy their products" and not try to force them to buy multiple copies of the same material for different devices or when the flimsy discs get scratched beyond use.
    • flimsy disks

      but when the disks ARE scratched beyond use, are you then allowed to obtain a digital copy to make a new disk from say a torrent?

      Hope so :-)