UK ‘has the worst copyright laws’, says consumer watchdog

April 17th, 2009 - 5:00 pm ICT by ANI  

London, April 17 (ANI): A consumer watchdog has said that UK has the worst copyright laws, as they “needlessly criminalise” music fans and need to be updated.

According to a report by BBC News, the statement came after global umbrella group Consumers International put the UK in last place in a survey of 16 countries’ copyright laws.

Consumer Focus said that the UK had to catch up with the rest of the world.

“UK copyright law is the oldest, but also the most out of date,” said Ed Mayo, chief executive of Consumer Focus.

“The current system puts unrealistic limits on our listening and viewing habits and is rapidly losing credibility among consumers. A broad ‘fair use’ exception would bring us in line with consumer expectations, technology and the rest of the world,” he added.

The survey by Consumers International looked at intellectual property laws and enforcement practices in 16 countries - Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, the UK and the US.

It decided that UK law was least effective in balancing the interests of rights holders against those of consumers.

“It is currently a copyright violation (in the UK) to rip a CD that you own on to your PC or iPod,” said Consumer Focus, “even though over half (55 percent) of British consumers admit to doing it and three in five (59 percent) think this type of copying is perfectly legal,” it added.

UK laws that make it a copyright violation to copy a CD that you own onto a computer or iPod should be changed, according to Consumer Focus.

The watchdog’s call was backed by digital rights campaign body the Open Rights Group, which called for a “more flexible” approach to copyright.

According to Open Rights group executive director Jim Killock, “It is ridiculous to ban copying, sampling and parody without payment, yet that is how the law stands today.”

“The government is undermining copyright’s reputation by failing to give clear rights to users in a changed digital world, where we all rip, mix and burn. Copyright urgently needs reform, as this study shows,” he added. (ANI)

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