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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 June 2006, 17:01 GMT 18:01 UK
UK music fans can copy own tracks
Headphones and part of an MP3 player
The BPI's chairman wants iTunes to work with non-Apple MP3 players
UK music fans no longer face the threat of prosecution for copying their own CDs on to PCs or MP3 players, as long as the songs are only for personal use.

Peter Jamieson, chairman of the British Phonographic Industry, said consumers would only be penalised if they made duplicates of songs for other people.

Currently anyone transferring music to portable devices breaks copyright laws.

The music industry has traditionally turned a blind eye, however, in favour of targeting "professional" pirates.

"We believe that we now need to make a clear and public distinction between copying for your own use and copying for dissemination to third parties," said Mr Jamieson, whose organisation represents the UK's record labels.

He told the Commons select committee for culture, media and sport that he wanted to "make it unequivocally clear to the consumer that if they copy their CDs for their own private use in order to move the music from format to format, we will not pursue them".

Domination 'not healthy'

Mr Jamieson also called for Apple - which makes the popular iPod portable music player - to open up its iTunes software so it is compatible with the technology of other manufacturers.

Apple applies a digital protection system to its downloads, which means they are not usually compatible with other companies' devices.

He said iTunes' dominant market share in downloads was "not particularly healthy" and said he "would advocate that Apple opts for interoperability".

Consumers in the UK pay 79p per track on iTunes and - generally - 7.90 for a full album, although this can vary according to the number of songs and the status of the artiste in question.

In February, music industry investigators claimed someone in almost every street in every town in the UK was illegally copying music and film.

The Federation Against Copyright Theft and British Phonographic Industry said home counterfeiters now accounted for the majority of their investigations.

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