An influential report claims that UK copyright law should be changed to guarantee a private right to copy, to protect iPod users who rip their vinyl or CD collections.
The report - from the Institute for Public Policy Research - says the forthcoming review of Intellectual Property, set up by Chancellor Gordon Brown and chaired by Andrew Gowers, should update the copyright laws to take account of the changes in the way people want to listen to music, watch films and read books.
The think tank recommends a legal ‘private right to copy’ that would allow people to make copies of CDs or DVDs for personal use.
Dr Ian Kearns, IPPR deputy director, said: "Millions of Britons copy CDs onto their home computers, breaking copyright laws everyday. British copyright law is out of date with consumer practices and technological progress. Giving people a legal ‘private right to copy’ would allow them to copy their own CDs and DVDs onto their home computers, laptops or phones without breaking the law.
"When it comes to protecting the interests of copyright holders, the emphasis the music industry has put on tackling illegal distribution and not prosecuting for personal copying, is right. But it is not the music industry’s job to decide what rights consumers have. That is the job of Government."
A National Consumer Council survey recently found that three-fifths of adults believe it to be perfectly legal to rip CDs to computers, and music industry group the BPI has also stressed it sees no reason to pursue consumers engaged in the activity.
The report, 'Public Innovation: Intellectual property in a digital age', also recommends that: Government should reject calls from the UK music industry to extend copyright term for sound recordings beyond the current 50 years.
It also wants Government intervention to ensure that Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology does not affect the preservation of electronic content by libraries. The British Library should be given a DRM-free copy of any new digital work and libraries should be able to take more than one copy of digital work, it says.