Free Personal Copies

Personal stereo users should be allowed to copy music for private use without breaking the law, an influential think tank has told the U.K. government.

The Institute For Public Policy Research (IPPR), an influential think tank, says 300-year-old copyright legislation needs to be rewritten to allow millions of people to legally copy their own CDs to iPods and other MP3 players.

The October 27th report says the upcoming review of intellectual property, which was set up by chancellor Gordon Brown and chaired by Andrew Gowers, should look at overhauling the copyright regulations to catch up with “the reality of people’s lives.”

Technically, it’s illegal for people to transfer their CDs and DVDs onto their computers, although a conviction would only likely result in a small fine, and the music industry has sensibly concentrated on getting convictions against serial copiers who sell product.

IPPR deputy director Ian Kearns said his organization applauds the fact the industry has concentrated on tackling illegal distribution instead of prosecuting for personal copying, although he also pointed out, “It’s not the music industry’s job to decide what rights consumers have. That is the job of government.”

The IPPR is suggesting that the U.K. copyright regime should be changed so a “private right to copy” is introduced, which would allow individuals to make copies of CDs or DVDs for personal use.

It reached its conclusions after a survey of more than 2,000 adults showed that 55 percent had copied CDs and 59 percent believed it was legal to do so.

– John Gammon