Home » Copyright » Proposed UK legislation to legalise CD ripping (and other changes to copyright law)

Proposed UK legislation to legalise CD ripping (and other changes to copyright law)

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Image from Wikipedia. User: Hellisp

Rip. Mix. Burn. Microwave? *

Last week, the government published the “final Exceptions to Copyright” regulations for consideration by parliament. The draft regulations propose changes that modernise UK copyright law in light of recommendations in the Hargreaves Review completed in 2011 (the same review that formed the basis of the Intellectual Property Bill currently in ping pong).

The proposed legislation comes in the form of five draft Statutory Instruments that would amend the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA) and covers Personal Copies for Private UseQuotation and ParodyDisabilityPublic Administration and Research, Education, Libraries and Archives. The draft regulations will be debated in both Houses of Parliament and, if approved, they will come into force on 1 June 2014.

Personal Copies for Private Use

One of the most significant draft amendments to the CDPA would allow copies of purchased music, films and books to be made for personal use, such as backups and format conversion, without infringing copyright. This change comes over 13 years since iTunes 1.0 popularised CD ripping with its user-friendly interface. Currently, it is illegal to rip the songs from CDs for use on a portable media player or convert a purchased eBook into a different format.

However, it will still be copyright infringement to make copies for other people including family and friends, or to rip borrowed or rented CDs or DVDs. Accordingly, while you could back up music and films to your personal cloud storage, it will still be illegal to give other people access to your cloud storage. Under the proposed law, whilst you can copy a CD you own, if you sell the CD, you would have to delete any copies you had made to avoid infringing copyright.

Further amendments are proposed to provide a remedy for when restrictive measures such as Digital Rights Management (DRM) prevent or restrict personal copying. Similar provisions already exist in the CDPA providing a remedy for when technological measures prevent permitted acts – by issuing a notice of complaint to the Secretary of State.

Quotation and Parody

Fair use of copyright material is to be extended under the proposals, allowing anyone the same rights to quote copyright work as currently given for the purposes of criticism, review and news reporting.

Additionally, new provisions are to be introduced to enable use of copyright material in caricature, parody and pastiche.


Currently, copyright infringement exemptions exist that allow visually-impaired people, and organisations acting on their behalf, to make Braille versions of books. The proposals contain provisions that would make it easier for anyone who has an impairment that prevents them accessing materials that are protected by copyright to benefit from the same exceptions currently afforded to visually-impaired people.

Research, Education, Libraries and Archives

Libraries, museums and archives will be able to copy media including films, broadcasts, sound recordings, artistic works, photographs, literary, dramatic and musical works for the purposes of preservation and archiving under the proposed changes. The works being copied will have to be part of a permanent collection and can be copied as many times as necessary if it is not reasonably practicable to purchase a replacement.

The main proposed change for educational establishments is to remove the limitation in existing copyright exceptions that the work being copied must be literary, dramatic, musical or artistic. This means that the proposed exceptions will extend to all copyright works, including sound recordings, films and broadcasts.

Public Administration

Some material submitted to public bodies by businesses or members of the public must be open to public inspection (e.g. planning applications). However, current copyright law means that this material can only be issued to the  public in paper format or to be viewed on the premises of public bodies. The proposed update to the CDPA will enable public bodies to make relevant copyright material that they hold available to the public online.

Laurence Lai 31 March 2014

* Image from Wikipedia. User: Hellisp. IPcopy does not condone the microwaving of CDs!

Useful links:

Further information from the UK Intellectual Property Office is given here.

The explanatory memorandum for the five draft Statutory Instruments is here.


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