Did you know it’s against the law to copy a CD you’ve bought onto your MP3 player? It’s even illegal to transfer your vinyl record collection into digital files on your PC. Is it time to bring the law into the 21st Century?
Ripping music from your CD onto your iPod is called ‘format shifting’, and it breaks UK copyright law. It’s a law that many think is past its sell-by date, as we do at Which?.
As long ago as 2006, the BPI, which represents the music industry, said it wanted to make it ‘unequivocally clear to the consumer that, if they copy their CDs for their private use in order to move music from format to format, we will not pursue them’.
Updating copyright law
If you did know about this particular law and you abide by it, you’re in the minority. In our survey of 2,106 UK consumers, just over half said they fall foul of this law and a similar proportion had no idea that format shifting was even against the law.
Perhaps more importantly, when told it was against the law, 63% thought they should be able to make a copy of something they legitimately bought so that they can listen to it or watch it in a different format. Four in 10 people also assume that the price paid for copyrighted material includes ‘permission’ to make private copies to another format.
Making format shifting legal
But good news is on the horizon – this unsatisfactory state of affairs is set to change. In 2012, the Government agreed with the recommendation of the Hargreaves Review that making a copy of copyrighted material in a different format should be legal if it’s for private use. The necessary legislation has been drafted and will be presented to Parliament soon, with a view to it becoming law in April 2014.
We’re due to meet the Government to talk about this soon, so we’d like to hear from you. Do you agree that format shifting for private use should be legal?