Format shifting may finally be legalised

Vince Cable to announce endorsement of the Hargreaves Review

Nicole Kobie
2 Aug 2011

The Government is set to announce plans to legalise format shifting and ditch web-blocking plans.

Business secretary Vince Cable is expected to announce the changes in a speech at the British Library in London tomorrow, as he endorses the Hargreaves Review on intellectual property laws, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Find out the latest news on the copyright law changes here

At the moment, ripping music or films from discs - to put on an MP3 player, for example - technically breaches copyright. While most record labels have long said they had no intention of taking action against format shifting, the Advertising Standards Authority recently reprimanded the makers of the Brennan JB7 device for failing to mention that CD ripping is illegal.

Private copying is carried out by millions of people and many are astonished that it is illegal in this country

"We are determined to explore how exceptions to copyright can benefit the UK economy and support growth," the paper quoted Cable as saying. "Private copying is carried out by millions of people and many are astonished that it is illegal in this country."

Cable is expected to back another change recommended by Professor Ian Hargreaves' report, and call for the website-blocking plans outlined in the Digital Economy Act to be dropped.

Under those plans, ISPs will be told to block specific websites that host content that infringes copyright. Such a move is already possible via court order - last week, BT was ordered to block access to the Newzbin website, but the exact method of how that will be done is yet to be decided.

However, plans currently being discussed by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, ISPs and copyright lobbyists would take the web blocking out of the courts, mimicking an existing system for taking down access to child pornography sites.

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