Consumers confused by copyright law

Three out of four Brits have no idea what digital media they are allowed to copy or record, according to research from Consumer Focus. The outfit is calling on the UK Government to reform the UK’s outdated copyright law before the laws lose all credibility.

Most copyright law was written at a time when digital technologies did not exist, the outfit said, but the pervasiveness of these new technologies means that these laws now affect millions of UK consumers.

Eight out of ten (80%) consumers thought that copyright law should be updated now that we have digital technologies, with slightly more (82%) keen to see reforms striking a fair balance between the interests of consumers and artists.

Jill Johnstone, International Director, Consumer Focus said: ‘The credibility of UK copyright law has fallen through the floor.

Millions of consumers are regularly copying CDs or DVDs and are unaware they are breaching copyright law.

‘The world has moved on and reform of copyright law is inevitable, but it’s not going to update itself. If the Government wants consumers to respect copyright law they have to stop sitting on their hands and bring the law in line with the real world.’

Consumer Focus wants to see ‘fair use right’ exceptions introduced that would allow consumers to make copies of copyrighted work they have purchased provided they are for ‘non-commercial use’ - such as copying CDs or DVDs to play on a different device (format shifting). ‘Fair use rights’ would protect copyright holders’ exclusive rights, while providing exceptions to copying activities that cause no, or minimal, economic harm to the rights holders.

Trouble is there's on concensus on what ‘non-commercial use’ is.