The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has issued a consultation paper which includes a proposal to allow "format shifting". The key features of the proposal are:

  • Scope – currently the preferred option is to apply the exemption to only film and sound recordings.
  • Permitted acts – the limited exemption will only allow consumers to make a copy of a work they legally own (e.g. a music CD) to enable it to be used on a device owned by the consumer (e.g. converting the music on the CD to MP3 format for use on the consumer's MP3 player). The exemption will not allow copying for family and friends or internet file sharing.
  • Compensation – to compensate copyright owners for any loss of revenue some EU countries impose a levy on recording media (e.g. computer hard drives, blank CDs and blank DVDs) as a trade-off for allowing a broad exemption for format shifting. The UKIPO has instead proposed a much narrower exemption and will leave it to copyright owners to decide if they want to increase the sale price of the original recording to take into account the new exemption.
  • Timing – the preferred option is to allow format shifting of both old and new works regardless of the date of purchase provided the format shifting occurs after the new exemption is introduced.

The consultation also proposes to extend the existing copyright exemptions that apply to education, research, private study and library archives and also introduce a new exemption for parody. For further details of those proposals please refer to the Herbert Smith Newsflash. Consultation submissions must be made by 8 April.