U.K. Government to Legalize Copying Media (for Personal Use)

Starting June 1, the U.K. government will legalize burning CDs, DVDs, video games, and ebooks "for private purposes such as format shifting or backup." It will remain illegal to distribute these copies. 

Under the new rules -- which the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) implemented after a governmental survey found that the vast majority of the public thought copying such materials was already legal -- consumers are allowed to make duplicates for personal usage only, such as uploading data to an "online storage medium" like Dropbox or burning a CD to play in the car. The new laws also cover YouTube video parodies, an activity for the most part protected under the United States' "fair use" doctrine.

"The government is making a series of small but important changes to copyright law to make it better suited for the digital age," the IPO explains. "They will also introduce greater freedoms in copyright law to allow third parties to use copyright works for a variety of economically and/or socially valuable purposes without the need to seek permission from copyright owners . . . The government is committed to achieving strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is shared across the country and between industries."

With these laws the U.K. catches up with the U.S., which forbids burning CDs, DVDs, and the other materials for distribution purposes but allows them for personal usage. In 2009, iTunes dropped the DRM-- digital rights management, or controlling access to copyrighted materials by keeping tracks "read only," for example -- from songs in its music library.