News story

Consumers given more copyright freedom

People will be able to legally make digital copies of music, films and eBooks for personal use as goverment changes UK copyright law.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

cd on a laptop keyboard, back lit

It has previously been illegal in the UK to move copyrighted works from one device to another, such as from a CD to an MP3 player or an iPod.

The new measures announed by government are designed to create a modern, robust and flexible copyright framework, whilst also protect the interests of authors and right owners.

The changes could contribute at least £500m to the UK economy over 10 years, and perhaps much more from reduced costs, increased competition and by making copyright works more valuable.

It will also be easier to create parodies of copyrighted works and for the purposes of quotation. They will also bring up to date existing exceptions for education, research and the preservation of materials.

Business Secretary, Vince Cable said:

Making the intellectual property framework fit for the 21st century is not only common sense but good business sense.

Bringing the law into line with ordinary people’s reasonable expectations will boost respect for copyright, on which our creative industries rely.

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.

In his review of intellectual property and growth, Professor Hargreaves made the case for the UK making greater use of these exceptions, which are allowed under EU law.

In response to a consultation earlier this year, the Government will make changes to:

  • private copying - to 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
  • education - to simplify copyright licensing for the education sector and make it easier for teachers to use copyright materials on interactive whiteboards and similar technology in classrooms and provide access to copyright works over secure networks to support the growing demand for distance learning handouts for students
  • quotation and news reporting - to create a more general permission for quotation of copyright works for any purpose, as long as the use of a particular quotation is “fair dealing” and its source is acknowledged
  • parody, caricature and pastiche - to allow limited copying on a fair dealing basis which would allow genuine parody, but prohibit copying disguised as parody
  • research and private study - to allow sound recordings, films and broadcasts to be copied for non-commercial research and private study purposes without permission from the copyright holder. This includes both user copying and library copying
  • data analytics for non-commercial research - to allow non-commercial researchers to use computers to study published research results and other data without copyright law interfering
  • access for people with disabilities - to allow people with disabilities the right to obtain copyright works in accessible formats where a suitable one is not already on the market
  • archiving and preservation - to allow museums, galleries, libraries and archives to preserve any type of copyright work that is in their permanent collection which cannot readily be replaced
  • public administration - to widen existing exceptions to enable more public bodies to share proactively third party information online, which would reflect the existing position in relation to the use of paper copies

Further information

Published 20 December 2012