and for the record, here's the information you wanted:
Q. In the UK is it legal to copy a CD into MP3 for personal use in the home?
A. Technically, no. Any copying of a CD is technically an infringement of the copyright. Having said that, you are unlikely to end up in Belmarsh prison if you make a copy for your own use. The fact that your copy is in a different format is neither here nor there - it's the act of copying that's illegal.
Q. If this is not legal then how come these software providers provide such a blatant service for no other use?
A. It isn't illegal to provide the means of copying - it's the copying itself. It's illegal to poison someone, but perfectly legal to manufacture poisonous substances.
Q. ....are our laws here in the UK different to the US where I believe it is legal to create a private back-up of your music from CD (for instance, into MP3)?
A. You're referring to what is called "fair use" but you'rfe wrong in your belief that it's legal to make a backup copy in America. The American courts have long recognised that it may be perfectly legal to copy part (or all) of a copyrighted work under certain conditions. This has become known as 'fair use' and it's not a right enshrined in law - it's a defence in the event of a prosecution. For the defense of fair use to succeed it has long been generally accepted that you must demonstrate that your copy was for one of the following purposes: criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, research and parodies.
These definitions were further expanded by a Supreme court ruling (in 1984) that taping a TV programme so you could view it later was a 'fair use'.
Many American lawyers hold the view that ripping a CD into MP3 files (changing the format) and burning a copy of a CD so you can have a spare for your own use are both examples of 'fair use'. I should stress that this does not have the force of law, and each case is decided on its merits. In the UK we do not have the concept of fair use, and our copyright law was further strengthened by the Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003. The position with regard to UK copyright is clear - you (as a private individual) may not legally make a copy of a copyrighted music CD for any purpose, or in any format.