UK finally makes ripping your own DVDs and CDs legal

Aiming to make its copyright laws more responsive to the realities of the digital age, the UK Government on Wednesday began efforts to update its more than 300-year-old system to better reflect how its citizens are using copyrighted works.

The plans include changing the laws so the 'ripping' of CDs and DVDs owned by UK citizens would now be legal, something that up until now would have been considered against the law. Government officials also said they had scrapped earlier announced plans to block copyright-infringing sites.

UK regulator Ofcom called such blocking efforts "unworkable," suggesting that attempting to do so may be unfeasible and cumbersome. It did not back down from the idea altogether however, meaning other methods of website blocking may surface in the future.

Copyright experts have warned that even with the changes, the UK still faces issues with the advent of cloud-based music services under current laws. It is not clear if the increased freedoms in the use of owned content would extend to these services, so the country may again face questions on enforcement.

Regardless, the changes have been hailed as a much needed refresh of an aging law.

"This brings the law into line with, frankly, common sense," business secretary Vince Cable was reported to have said at a news conference by The Guardian. "A lot of this has to do with consumer freedom. We need to have a legal framework that supports consumer use rather than treat it as regrettable."

The UK Government still plans on forcing ISPs to help pay costs to send warning letters to suspected illegal file-sharers. Those regulations were part of the Digital Economy Act passed last year, and were criticized by the industry.

UK ISPs challenged the law in court, but failed to have the cost-sharing requirement overturned. They were successful however in forcing the UK Government to pay for the setup of such a system, something the Digital Economy Act had both sides footing the bill for.

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