We've all done it. In fact, once the cellophane wrapper is off, one of the first things most people do with a freshly purchased new CD is to zap it through their computer and rip the contents for use on an MP3 player.

But did you know that this seemingly harmless act is, in fact, in breach of UK copyright law and therefore a criminal act?
UK Government set to change the law?

That's the case at the moment, even though to our knowledge at least, nobody has ever been prosecuted for such a 'crime'. Things could be about to change though.

The UK Government's Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) has today launched a review to consider the future of copyright in the digital age. The man in charge, intellectual property minister Lord Triesman, has said that the law regarding copying for personal use may need to be changed to "keep up with the times".

The changes proposed would allow individuals to copy their CD purchases to other portable media, such as an MP3 player, for personal use. However, they wouldn't then be able to pass on their original copy of the CD for someone to do likewise, or sell it.

Adding MP3s of ripped music to P2P networks or for public download on the internet will also remain a criminal offence.

The proposals are presently at public consultation stage, which will last until 8 April, after which draft legislation will be drawn up. The BPI has welcomed the proposed clarification, but also says that the law must maintain a tough stance against copyright theft.