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Copyright laws need serious overhaul to protect honest consumers in digital age, says think tank

Wednesday, November 01, 2006 by: Jerome Douglas
Tags: copyright law, intellectual property, health news

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(NewsTarget) When you copy CDs and DVDs that you purchased to your own portable electronic device, you are breaking the law if you are a British citizen. The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) is calling for a "private right to copy" of owned pieces of music in digital format, in an attempt to decriminalize the copying of CDs onto digital music players.

IPPR deputy director Dr. Ian Kearns recently stated that "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."

According to research from the National Consumer Council, more than 50 percent of British consumers are breaking copyright laws by copying CDs onto their computers, iPods or other MP3 players. The IPPR is hoping to influence new intellectual property laws, making it legal to transfer music from one source to another for personal use.

In a new intellectual property report, author Kay Withers said "The idea of all-rights reserved doesn't make sense for the digital era and it doesn't make sense to have a law that everyone breaks. To give the IP regime legitimacy it must command public respect." In the UK, intellectual property laws are currently being reviewed by the government.

The new IP report also states that "The internet offers unprecedented opportunities to share ideas and content knowledge must, therefore, perform the roles of both commodity and social glue, both private property and public domain." The report also looks at how Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies -- which restrict the sharing of music or other intellectual property -- are affecting attempts to preserve electronic content.

There are also arguments that the British Library should be given a DRM-free copy of any new digital work, and that libraries should be able to take more than one copy of digital work.

"We charge the British Library as being the collective memory of the nation and increasingly it has to archive digital content more and more academic journals are delivered digitally, but copyright laws aren't designed to deal with digital content." Withers added that there was often a conflict between DRM and accessibility technologies, which needs to be addressed as well.


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