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PARIS — Britain plans to legalize something that many of its citizens have been doing already, perhaps unaware that they were breaking the law: copying music or movies from compact discs or DVDs onto other storage devices, like iPods.

The government said Wednesday that it planned to legalize so-called format-shifting as part of a broad overhaul of the country’s copyright laws aimed at bringing them up to speed with digital technology and the fight against piracy. Across much of the rest of Europe, format-shifting has long been permitted.

“We can’t carry on saying that businesses should embrace technology but then not allow consumers to use everyday technology to play works they’ve paid for,” said Vince Cable, the business secretary.

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