The National Consumer Council has backed up its submission to the Government that the UK’s copyright laws are unfair to consumers and unrealistic, by referring to the results of a recent YouGov poll .
The unofficial consumer watchdog said the YouGov poll illustrates the points it raised to the Gowers review looking at intellectual property law. The poll indicated that over half of the British consumers surveyed are infringing copyright law.
Actions such as copying CDs onto various music players are technicially illegal, but the practice is common across all ages and social classes in Britain today.
Three in five (59 per cent) of those surveyed thought copying was perfectly legal, despite the fact that current UK law does not provide a right to reproduce copyrighted material for private use - including CDs, DVDs and downloads.
This, claimed the NCC, highlights the absurdity of current copyright law.
The findings add ammunition to the NCCâ€™s recent submission to the Governmentâ€™s Gowers review that the law is out of step with modern life and discriminates unfairly against consumers by placing unrealistic limitations on their private listening and viewing habits.
Jill Johnstone, author of NCCâ€™s submission, said: “We need to shake up the copyright law to incorporate consumersâ€™ â€˜fair useâ€™ rights - including the right to copy for private use.”
The organisation is also supporting Beuc, the European consumers’ organisation which is coordinating the Declaration of Consumersâ€™ Digital Rights campaign, challenging European copyright legislation.
Beuc, the Brussels-based federation of 40 independent national consumer organisations from the EU, including the NCC, wants consumers to have basic legal rights which are enforceable. It is also calling for clear guidelines on what consumers can legally do with digital content and hardware.
This, it said, would allow consumers to benefit from technological innovations without abusive restrictions, and ensure the right to the interoperability of content and devices.
The NCCâ€™s submission to the Gower review also challenges the long periods of copyright protection, which currently stand at 50 years for sound recordings. The music industry wants UK laws extended in line with US copyright law which is far longer.
Johnstone said: "Whether for films, literary or musical works, sound recordings or broadcasts, the length of all copyright terms should be reduced to fit more closely the time period over which most financial returns are normally made.
"The current campaign by the music industry to extend copyright terms for sound recordings beyond 50 years has no justification. Evidence shows that music companies generally make returns on material in a matter of years not decades.
“Current terms already provide excessive protection of intellectual property rights at a cost to consumers.”
There is a petition on the Consumer Digital Rights website for us poor Brits: http://www.consumersdigitalrights.org/cms/index_en.php
Beuc website: http://www.beuc.org/Content/Default.asp?PageID=149
We have great consumer protection against being mis-sold stuff but no rights to protect what we buy by making back ups. We need a better balance.
Now here’s a kicker. If we don’t have the actual right to legal put music we have bought in CD onto an MP3 player, if anyone got sued would they be able to name companies that make them like Apple as their co-defendants as their adverts do encourage such activities. I would love to see that case