Time for another ripping yarn from CNET UK -- and today the ripping in question is the copying of CDs and DVDs to your computer, which believe it or not is actually illegal. It's a triumph for common sense as government takes on board a number of suggestions for reforming copyright and intellectual property law.
Her Majesty's Government today gave a resounding thumbs-up to the Hargreaves Report on intellectal property, broadly accepting every single recommendation in a response signed by business secretary Vince Cable, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt and chancellor George Osborne.
The report addresses the laughably outdated law that frowns on copying legally bought CDs and DVDs to your computer. Not only will ripping music and movies be made entirely legal, but the government says it will block attempts to limit your ability to do so, such as companies charging extra for devices that can be used to copy things.
CD ripping is the most obvious triumph of common sense, and the thing that will affect most average punters. But there are a number of other measures included in the report that could add between £5bn and £8bn to the UK economy by 2020, while cutting costs by more than £750m.
The government agrees with Hargreaves that software patents shouldn't be introduced without further investigation into whether they would help or hinder innovation and growth. That should avoid so-called 'patent thickets', entangled patents that can lead to such legal shenanigans as the current hair-pulling match between Apple and HTC over phone patents.
Copyright restrictions on academic research and parodies will also be relaxed. A Digital Copyright Exchange will also be set up, as a kind of marketplace for copyright. A publicly accessible register of copyrighted works will be held by the new body, so there'll be no excuse for anyone to nick copyright works and claim they didn't know who the copyright holder is, such as a photograph taken from the Internet without the photographer's permission.
Some of the recommended measures will be carried out as soon as this year, with a white paper next spring getting the ball rolling on enacting before the next election.
Cable also announced that the government is dropping plans to block websites that host copyright-infringing materials. Forcing Internet service providers to block such sites is one of the most controversial aspects of the half-baked Digital Economy Act, and the gubmint has decided to drop such measures from the legislation on the recommendation of Ofcom.
But before we get too excited, it appears the government is abandoning blockades from new legislation because existing laws may be able to do the job just as well -- as evidenced by a recent test case in which a judge ordered BT to block Newzbin.