UK copyright law should be changed to include a "private right to copy" that protects users of the iPod and other MP3 players, according to a new report published today by the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr).

According to the Institute, the UK’s current copyright laws mean that millions of Brits break the law each year when they copy their CDs onto their computers.

ippr says that the forthcoming review of Intellectual Property, set up by Chancellor Gordon Brown and chaired by Andrew Gowers, should update the 300-year-old copyright laws to take account of the changes in the way people want to listen to music, watch films and read books.

"British copyright law is out of date with consumer practices and technological progress. Giving people a legal ‘private right to copy’ would allow them to copy their own CDs and DVDs onto their home computers, laptops or phones without breaking the law", said the Institute's deputy director.

ippr recommends a legal "private right to copy" that would allow people to make copies of CDs, or DVDs for personal us. The report says a new right would legalise the actions of millions of Britons without any significant harm to the copyright holders.

The report, Public Innovation: Intellectual property in a digital age, also recommends among other things that the Government should reject calls from the UK music industry to extend copyright term for sound recordings beyond the current 50 years.

The Gowers Review of Intellectual Property was set up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as part of the Pre-Budget Report 2005 package. Headed by Andrew Gowers, it is examining the UK’s intellectual property framework and is to report ahead of the Pre-Budget Report in November.