Copying music, film and other digital media for personal use is to be made legal under changes to how the UK government enforces copyright.
The changes will be introduced in 2013 and will enable third parties to reproduce copyrighted work without permission from rights holders when copying works for individual use, parody or quotation. They will allow people to legally rip MP3s from their CDs and copy digital versions of films they own, a practice that is currently illegal, although no one is prosecuted for it.
"Making the intellectual property framework fit for the 21st century is not only common sense but good business sense. Bringing the law into line with ordinary people's reasonable expectations will boost respect for copyright, on which our creative industries rely," said business secretary Vince Cable in a statement on Thursday.
"We feel we have struck the right balance between improving the way consumers benefit from copyright works they have legitimately paid for, boosting business opportunities and protecting the rights of creators."
Cable announced the changes in response to the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth (PDF), which was commissioned by David Cameron and published in May 2011. Professor Ian Hargreaves concluded that "the UK's current system is falling behind what is needed, especially in the area of copyright" and recommended that the UK adopt "an approach to exceptions to copyright which encourages successful new digital technology businesses both within and beyond the creative industries".
In August 2011, the government said it broadly accepted every one of the report's recommendations.
What do the changes mean for you?
The changes mean it will also be possible for non-commercial researchers focusing on areas such as big data to use computers to study published research results and other data without breaching copyright laws.
Teachers will be able to reproduce copyrighted materials on interactive whiteboards and via digital handouts over "secure" connections, without fear of breaching UK copyright.
Teachers will be able to reproduce copyrighted materials on interactive whiteboards and via digital handouts without fear of breaching UK copyright
In addition, it will be possible for individuals to copy sound recordings, films and broadcasts for private study and non-commercial research.
Several of the new changes are only applicable providing the copying is done on what the government refers to as a "fair dealing" basis, which is similar to the "fair use" system in the US but not as permissive.
It will also be possible to quote copyrighted works for any purpose as long as the source is acknowledged.
The government is estimating that the changes will encourage innovation and boost the UK economy by more than £500m over the next 10 years.
The news follows changes to the patent application system earlier this week, which enable individuals and organisations to pay a fee in order to obtain a decision on their patent application within 90 days.