Canadians can legally download peer-to-peer (P2P) music files although uploading them is still illegal, the Canadian Copyright Board ruled on Friday.
As long as music is being recorded purely for personal use and not being sold, rented or otherwise disseminated to other people its use is legal, the board said.
It does not matter whether the source of the recording is a pre-owned track, a borrowed CD or a track downloaded from the internet the ruling continued. The combination of the latter two points means that recording a CD for a friend is illegal, but handing the CD to the same friend and letting them make a copy for their own use is legal.
The board also imposed a levy on manufacturers and importers of MP3 music players with non-removable memory, depending on their storage capacity. Players with memory capacity of less than 1GB will be subject to a levy of $2 (about £1), those with between 1GB and 10GB will be levied $10 (about £6), and any players with more than 10GB will face a levy of $25 (£15).
The levies are paid to the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC), which distributes the money to authors, performers and producers of music in Canada.
This softly softly approach is in stark contrast to that taken by America, where the Riaa (Recording Industry Association of America), which represents music labels and publishing houses, is currently in legal battles with ISPs to release the names of all customers who use P2P websites. It has sued almost 500 P2P users thus far. It is not yet clear which stance the UK will follow.