In an astonishingly forward thinking policy, the government has vowed to decriminalise the copying of CDs into digital formats.
Some 13 years after Napster popularised the use of digital music, turning much of the population into hardened criminals, the UK government has decreed that those transferring music between different devices will no longer be pilloried. Presumably taping some of the top 40 off the radio will be given the all-clear too.
In a review of intellectual property policy, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills has decided that it will drag its outdated legislation into the 21st century.
A statement read that the government would “permit people to copy digital content they have bought onto any medium or device that they own, but strictly for their own personal use such as transferring their music collection or eBooks to their tablet, phone or to a private cloud”.
This means that sharing content from one device to another will no longer be a criminal act, following a consultation with industry representatives as part of the government’s Hargreaves Review.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said that the “common sense” approach would also be good for businesses.
“Making the intellectual property framework fit for the 21st century is not only common sense but good business sense,” Cable said. “Bringing the law into line with ordinary people’s reasonable expectations will boost respect for copyright, on which our creative industries rely.”
He added: “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.”
However, the move has angered the Musician’s Union, with General Secretary John Smith commenting that more should be done to compensate artists.
“While we understand the need for this exception to bring the law into line with consumer behaviour, we feel strongly that the lack of fair compensation will significantly disadvantage creators and performers in relation to the vast majority of their EU counterparts,” Smith said.