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Government set to reform ‘ripping’ law

Consumers can ‘format shift’ with impunity

Vince Cable

We need to bring copyright into line with people’s expectations and update it for the modern digital world.

Vince Cable,
Secretary of State for Business

The government is planning to reform existing copyright law, making it legal for consumers to ‘rip’ or make digital copies of their CDs and DVDs, as long as it is for their own and immediate family’s personal use.

It is also planning to make it legal to transfer the digital content from their CDs or DVDs and shift it into another format so that it can be used on other devices, such as their iPods.

The reforms to existing UK intellectual property (IP) law were announced by business secretary Vince Cable in a speech at the British Library today, where he set out the Government’s response to a report by Professor Ian Hargreaves looking into how intellectual property law could be reformed to encourage growth in creative industries.

Take a look at our guide to what files you can legally share with others for easy to follow advice.

Copyright for the ‘modern digital world’

Announcing the planned reforms, Vince Cable said: ‘We need to bring copyright into line with people’s expectations and update it for the modern digital world.’

A government statement added: ‘Thousands of people copy legitimately purchased content, such as a CD to a computer or portable device such as an iPod, assuming it is legal. This move will bring copyright law into line with the real world, and with the consumers’ reasonable expectations.’

No UK consumer has ever been prosecuted for copying their CDs or DVDs or shifting that digital content into another format. In fact, a Business, Innovation and Skills spokesperson said the prosecutors would not bring a case of format shifting to court.

He explained the reform to the law was aimed more at businesses, as the current regime was hindering innovation in the area.

Business opportunities

The BIS believes modernising the law would allow small businesses greater opportunities. 

‘There are some businesses that are being hampered by the way the existing law works at the moment,’ the BIS spokesperson said. 

‘With these changes, the government is thinking of ways of creating the right conditions to encourage innovation and growth.’

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