UK Copyright Law to Allow Personal Copies of Media

The UK government has announced several changes to UK copyright law that will, in certain circumstances, allow consumers to make copies of a copyright work without first seeking permission from the copyright owner.

According to a new set of consumer guidelines on copyright law, consumers will be allowed to make personal copies of media (CDs, ebooks, films) for private purposes, like format shifting or backup. This means you’ll be allowed to rip music from a purchased CD to your MP3 player (for personal use) without breaking the law. You can also copy purchased books or films to other devices or back up to the cloud without breaking copyright law.

What you can’t do is make copies for your friends or give your friends access to cloud-stored copies (by sharing with their account or allowing them to use your account). You also can’t copy computer programs or books, music, or video that you’ve borrowed, rented, streamed, or viewed via broadcast. It’s also important to note that if you sell media (like CDs), you're required by law to delete any personal copies you made before you sell it. 

Given how we consume and store media has changed dramatically over the last 10-15 years, this is a huge step in the right direction that will hopefully make copyright law more compatible with the digital age. Still, good luck trying to get people to delete music before they sell the physical copies, though. The changes above (along with others, which can be found here) will come into force June 2014.

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