Proposed changes to copyright laws will allow owners to move their music legally from CDs to MP3 players.
They would also let owners copy music from a PC to a portable player or to CDs.
The proposals, released on Tuesday, amend the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 which technically makes it illegal for people to shift their music and films from one format to another.
The changes would apply only to content copied for the owner's private use.
Multiple copying and file sharing on the internet would still be banned.
Owners would not be allowed to sell or give away their copies.
"To allow consumers to copy works and then pass on the original could result in a loss of sales for right holders," the proposals warn.
The consultation on proposed changes to UK copyright exceptions were launched on Tuesday by Intellectual Property Minister Lord Triesman.
It follows the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property, which recommended that certain aspects of the system should be reformed.
The proposals are designed to provide clarity about copyright issues in light of changing technologies.