Top think-tank calls for copyright reform

Org says users of MP3 players are breaking the law

LONDON — The battle to have Britain’s 300-year-old copyright laws updated has found a powerful ally in the shape of the Institute for Public Policy Research, an influential think-tank with close links with the U.K. government.

In a report published Oct. 29, the org claims that millions of U.K. citizens are breaking the law each year by copying CDs onto their computers. The report, “Public Innovation: Intellectual Property in a Digital Age,” says that U.K. copyright law should be changed to include a private right to copy that protects users of iPods and other MP3 players.

The IPPR wants the forthcoming review of intellectual property, set up by Chancellor Gordon Brown and chaired by Andrew Gowers, to update the U.K.’s copyright laws to take account of the changes in the way people want to listen to music, watch films and read books.

IPPR deputy director Ian Kearns said: “Millions of Britons copy CDs onto their home computers breaking copyright laws every day. British copyright law is out of date with consumer practices and technological progress.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.”

He added: “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.”

However, the report also recommends that: Government rejects calls from the U.K. music industry to extend copyright term for sound recordings beyond the current 50 years. IPPR argues there is no evidence to suggest that current protections provided in law are insufficient.

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