UK copyright law change will let you rip CDs starting June 1

It might be years too late, but at least those who own media will soon be able to copy it onto their computers legally.

Ed Rhee/CNET

Remember the good old days of ripping CDs? Well, the UK will soon allow its citizens to do just that without any fear of reprisal.

Starting June 1, UK consumers will be allowed to make personal copies of media they own, the country's Intellectual Property Office announced recently. The discs should be used for "private purposes such as format shifting or backup," the copyright-watchdog says.

"It is not currently legal to copy content that you have bought on a CD onto your MP3 player," the IPO writes. "The changes will update copyright law to make this legal, as long as you own what you are copying, e.g. a music album, and the copy you make is for your own private use."

That the UK has finally come around on allowing citizens to rip CDs has been a long time coming. Word that the UK would allow consumers to legally copy CDs or DVDs came down in 2011. That was promptly followed, however, by a protracted legislative dispute initiated by copyright holders concerned that it would result in piracy.

The refrain from copyright holders is one we've been hearing for years: if consumers can copy CDs, DVDs, or e-books (which are also included in this change), they'll share that content with friends and harm copyright holders. After nearly three years, the UK finally decided that the argument couldn't quite hold up, but in a notice to consumers, the government made clear that sharing copyrighted materials with others is still illegal.

Once June 1 rolls around, the UK will join most of Europe, as well as the US and Canada, in allowing consumers to rip CDs and DVDs.

But as with anything else with copyright holders, there are still some caveats. As the IPO notes, nothing is stopping copyright holders from banning copying.

"You should note that media, such as DVDs, can still be protected by technology which physically prevents copying," the IPO wrote to consumers.

CNET has contacted the IPO for comment on the change. We will update this story when we have more information.

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