Page last updated at 23:33 GMT, Wednesday, 15 April 2009 00:33 UK

UK 'has the worst copyright laws'

iPod (BBC)
Many people do not know that copying music to an iPod violates copyright

UK copyright laws "needlessly criminalise" music fans and need to be updated, a consumer watchdog says.

UK laws that make it a copyright violation to copy a CD that you own onto a computer or iPod should be changed, says Consumer Focus.

The call came after global umbrella group Consumers International put the UK in last place in a survey of 16 countries' copyright laws.

Consumer Focus said the UK had to catch up with the rest of the world.

"UK copyright law is the oldest, but also the most out of date," said Ed Mayo, chief executive of Consumer Focus.

"The current system puts unrealistic limits on our listening and viewing habits and is rapidly losing credibility among consumers. A broad 'fair use' exception would bring us in line with consumer expectations, technology and the rest of the world."


The survey by Consumers International looked at intellectual property laws and enforcement practices in 16 countries - Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, the UK and the US.

It decided that UK law was least effective in balancing the interests of rights holders against those of consumers.

"It is currently a copyright violation [in the UK] to rip a CD that you own on to your PC or iPod," said Consumer Focus, "even though over half (55%) of British consumers admit to doing it and three in five (59%) think this type of copying is perfectly legal."

The watchdog's call was backed by digital rights campaign body the Open Rights Group, which called for a "more flexible" approach to copyright.

Open Rights group executive director Jim Killock said: "It is ridiculous to ban copying, sampling and parody without payment, yet that is how the law stands today.

"The government is undermining copyright's reputation by failing to give clear rights to users in a changed digital world, where we all rip, mix and burn. Copyright urgently needs reform, as this study shows."

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