internet.com
You are in the: Small Business Computing Channelarrow View Sites +
Small Business Technology
» ECommerce-Guide | Small Business Computing | Webopedia | WinPlanet |  »Close
Webopedia.com
Enter a word for a definition... ...or choose a computer category.
 
 

menu
   Home
   Term of the Day
   New Terms
   Pronunciation
   New Links
   Quick Reference
   Did You Know?
   Categories
   Tech Support
   Webopedia Jobs
   About Us
   Link to Us
   Advertising
  

talk to us
   Submit a URL
   Suggest a Term
   Report an Error

internet.com
Developer
Downloads
International
Internet Lists
Internet News
Internet Resources
IT
Linux/Open Source
Personal Technology
Small Business
Windows Technology
xSP Resources
Search internet.com
Advertise
Corporate Info
Newsletters
Tech Jobs
E-mail Offers
commerce
  Be a Commerce Partner
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
When Is Downloading Music on the Internet Illegal?

So your daughter wants the new Britney Spears CD or perhaps you're looking to make a nice Christmas music compilation for playing over the holidays. For many people it is as simple as opening one of many peer-to-peer file share programs, selecting the tracks, downloading and burning to a CD-ROM. What isn't so simple about downloading music is the copyright protection laws that people break everyday by downloading some music tracks off the Internet. To make matters even more muddled, some music can be lawfully downloaded, and for those that aren't, laws regarding the sharing and downloading of music on the Internet vary from country to country.

In Canada, for example, downloading copyright music from peer-to-peer networks is legal, but uploading those files is not. Additionally Canada has imposed fees on recording mediums like blank CDs and similar items. These levies are used to fund musicians and songwriters for revenues lost  due to consumer copying. Canada has initially charged this tax on MP3 players, but a recent Supreme Court decision ruled that the law was written in such a way that these players were exempt from the tax.

The U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act  is much more strict and deems copying of copyrighted music (with the exception of making a copy for your own use) as illegal. The U.S. Code protects copyright owners from the unauthorized reproduction, adaptation or distribution of sound recordings, as well as certain digital performances to the public. In more general terms, it is considered legal for you to purchase a music CD and record (rip) it to MP3 files for your own use. Uploading these files via peer-to-peer networks would constitute a breach of the law.

One of the big issues concerning the music industry is, of course, the revenue loss. In theory, if a person is able to download his or her favorite music off the Internet, that person would not need to purchase the CD at a local music store. Every story you read will most likely produce a different set of numbers the music industry claims it has lost due to music downloading. The most common average of numbers seems to sit around a loss of 20 percent globally in sales since 1999.

Organizations that support music sharing and downloading however have thrown a wrench into the statistics released by the music industry as they suggest some of these losses are due to a bad economy and fewer "new releases" hitting the market in some of those years. It is obvious that the music industry has to be losing some money due to Internet music file sharing, but finding the exact amount lost due to music downloading isn't so simple. One thing that is for certain however is that the loss affects the industry, the musicians, and even sound technicians, recording studios, and music stores.

The music industry and even some musicians who feel they are taking a loss due to the sharing of their copy-protected works online have started fighting back, so to speak. In recent months there have been more cases of music piracy heading to the courts. From the creators of peer-to-peer and music sharing program authors, to individual users uploading and sharing copy-protected works online, more people are finding themselves in court trying to avoid paying monetary damages and trying to prove that what they are doing is in fact, fair use.

As mentioned on the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), the penalties for breaching the copyright act differ slightly depending upon whether the infringing is for commercial or private financial gain. If you think being caught infringing on these copyright laws will result in a small fine or "slap on the wrist", think again! In the U.S.,  the online infringement of copyrighted music can be punished by up to three years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Repeat offenders can be imprisoned up to six years. Individuals also may be held civilly liable, regardless of whether the activity is for profit, for actual damages or lost profits, or for statutory damages up to $150,000 per infringed copyright.

If there are so many lawful issues surrounding the downloading of music, you might wonder why we have such in influx of MP3 players, CD burners, and even software that allows users to easily rip music from a CD to their computer. The simple answer is that these devices do have a legitimate and legal fair use association. As mentioned earlier, you may choose to make your personal back-up copy to use in a MP3 player, or you may visit one of many Web sites, like iTunes, which offers music that you pay for as you download. While some may wonder why people are willing to pay for what can be had for 'free'. Those who do prefer to obey the copyright protection laws have sung in to the tune of purchasing over 150 million songs from the  iTunes site alone.


Vangie 'Aurora' Beal
Writer, www.Webopedia.com
Last updated: December 22, 2004


Related Links

RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America)
Excellent resource for those interested in the laws surrounding the copyright protection of music. The RIAA Web site also offers links to recent news, events, issues the music industry is facing, and more.

iTunes
Apple's very popular online music store. Offers purchase links to a plethora of digital songs, as well as iPod players and accessories.

United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act (PDF)
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was signed into law by 1 President Clinton on October 28, 1998. The legislation implements two 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties: the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. The DMCA also addresses a number of other significant copyright-related issues.

Canadian Copyright Act
Copyright Act ( R.S. 1985, c. C-42 ), provided by the Canadian department of Justice Web site.




Do you have an interesting piece of computer-related trivia that you would like us to explore?
Tell us about it.



JupiterWeb networks:

internet.comearthweb.comDevx.com graphics.com

Search JupiterWeb:

Jupitermedia Corporation has three divisions:
Jupiterimages, JupiterWeb and JupiterResearch


Legal Notices, Licensing, Reprints, & Permissions, Privacy Policy.

Jupitermedia Corporate Info | Newsletters | Tech Jobs | Shopping | E-mail Offers