In today’s digital world where millions of netizens regularly download (legally and otherwise) infinitely reproducible music files, swap them with friends, upload them to Google Music, burn them onto CD for listening to while driving etc., it seems almost bizarre how archaic and draconian many country’s copyright laws are when it comes to copying your own legally purchased music so you can listen to it wherever, and on whichever of your devices you like.
Despite taking a lot longer than it should have thanks to a great deal of opposition from rightsholders to who want users to purchase a new license for each copy of a track they have, the UK government in March announced that copying MP3s for personal use would be legalized (regardless of the fact that doing so is currently illegal would be news to a most Brits),
‘Copyright law is being changed to allow you to make personal copies of media you have bought, for private purposes such as format shifting or backup,’ says the Intellectual Property Office’s Guidance for consumers.
It was not until June, however, that the proposed changes received parliamentary approval, and are due to come into force in October. The move has broadly welcomed by digital rights campaigners such as John Higgins, director general of DigitalEurope, who said,
‘We congratulate the UK government on this exemplary legislation which sets the benchmark for Europe in the future. The private copying exception model introduced by the UK government is fully aligned with this objective, and Digitaleurope strongly hopes that it will become a role model for the broader EU-wide reforms of copyright law that are likely to begin in the coming months.’
The new law also covers books and films, but makes it very clear that copying is only allowed for personal use, and files cannot be given to or swapped with family members, friends etc. (as if anybody cares!)
Interestingly, not even major companies have paid attention to the law as it stands, and Google Music, which lets users upload up to 20,000 of their own songs to the cloud at no cost, has been operational in the UK since November 2012…