Infringement of Music Copyright – Copyright Lawyers Continue to Struggle in Protecting Music Online

Copyright lawyers have any number of challenges in the online world of the World Wide Web. The ability to copy and distribute digital media, including text, music and images, all of which may be copyright protected, allows for infringement to occur at a seemingly unstoppable rate. As is noted by so many commentators, however, copyright holders get the benefit of having their works seen in ways and in numbers that were simply not possible before the Internet.

Music has provided some interesting lessons. Some musicians and the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) have aggressively pursued end-users who download copyright protected music in ways few anticipated. It used to be believed that it was simply impossible to try and stem the tide of illegal music downloads. Why try? But some in the music industry took up the challenge and devoted tremendous financial resources to pursue music copyright infringers.

Others in the music industry saw the Internet as an opportunity. They encouraged the free downloading and sharing of their songs, essentially providing a limited (not for resale) license to virtually anyone that wanted to download their MP3 onto their iPod, cell phone or computer. As a result, they were able to achieve distribution levels that took them from obscurity to relative fame. These music copyright holders often saw their CD sales skyrocket to unprecedented levels. Moreover, many made multiples of what they would have otherwise made at lucrative concerts which brought attendance levels that could never have been achieved without encouraging viral MP3 downloads.

As a copyright lawyer watching the market from within and representing musicians at both ends of the spectrum, I would make these observations. Every musician needs to decide for themselves which approach works best for them, but they should do so based on information. Too often, music copyright issues are addressed without properly analyzing the opportunity. Money and resources are devoted to pursuing protection against just about everyone, without considering all the options.

The real scofflaws for many musicians will be those who are trying to profit off of their works on the Internet, not those fans who are downloading for free. By drafting their copyright notice in a way which precludes monetization of the copyrighted works, they are put in a position where they can go after those who are illegally profiting from their copyrighted works from their copyrighted music, while leaving their fans free to download, share and promote their music as part of the social networking phenomena on the web.

Thinking Of Downloading Music Illegally On The Internet?

You may not be able to distinguish the difference between illegal and legal music downloading. Illegal downloading occurs when you use peer-to-peer (P2P) services such as the old Napster (the new one is a 100% legal, paying service). As long as you download (transfer onto your computer) or upload (transfer onto the internet from your PC) any copyrighted material for free, then you may very well be committing a felony. Don’t worry, you most probably won’t end up in state prison. You will most likely get sued by the RIAA.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) can very easily track you and issue you a nasty letter in the form of a lawsuit. How do they find you ? Here’s how it happens. At the request of the RIAA, your ISP (internet service provider) turns over your name under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. They then connect with your P2P client and determine your IP (internet protocol) address. (Every computer that is connected to the internet has a unique IP address. To find out what yours is please visit: Using these particulars, and the time you were connected online, your ISP can then obtain your name. By this stage the RIAA can sue you.

How much will you get sued ? $150,000 for each song which has a copyright ! For example, if you downloaded (or uploaded) one of Madonna’s songs, you can expect to pay $150,000 for it. In case you downloaded her whole album then you are definitely looking at over a million dollars ! Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t have $150,000, let alone $50,000. In the likely event of you losing your case against the RIAA, you may be forced to declare bankruptcy. If you are below 18 (as are the majority of file-sharers) your parents will have to do it. They may have to give up their house !

So what is the best course of action to avoid these lawsuits ? Legal music downloads. Not only are you depriving the artists of their royalties by using peer-to-peer software (and committing an automatic felony), but you are also damaging your PC with viruses. These hide themselves with the music that you download.

Legal music downloading services are plentiful on the internet. Expect to pay around $10 a month for the service, and between 79¢ and 99¢ per download. I would rather pay $10 than $150,000 or more ! What do you prefer ?

How to Control the Music Download Madness

After following the trend of users coming on to the internet to download movies, many resources started to come out offering you the latests downloads. At the very beginning this was great for most users.

After a while, people started to take advantage of this. They started adding pop ups, illegal spy software, among many other things to their sites. You downloaded an mp3 file and you got the file, but with it you had a shiny new browser window that told you to buy viagra every time you surfed the web.

Fortunately, other resources came out. Legal Resources. Places were you can come inside and download music in a safe way, in a way you can trust.

These are cost effective, and if you compare it to the damage that could be caused by downloading the files from an illegal source, then the legal sources will outweight their value by tenfold.

When you’re downloading for and Mp3 music file online, there are a few things you will want to look for:

1) The quality of the Mp3. File quality can range anywhere from 20 kbps which is blurry quality to 320 kbps which is basically CD quality. You should aim for downloading music files that are above 128 kbps. Anything below that will have a trashy background that will not sound great when you burn it onto a CD.

2) You internet speed must be in a good shape. Sometimes it’s necessary to restart your computer to get it back to optimum speed before attempting to download any mp3 file. You’ll want anything over 3 kb/s to get the song in under 10 minutes.

3) Check you computer to make sure you have enough space on the drive you’re downloading your file. There’s nothing more annoying than getting to 75 percent of the download only to find out that you didn’t have enough room in your C: Drive. Nowadays with our hard drive’s spaces growing this is more unsual but it’s best to make sure before you start.

4) Make sure you don’t make illegal copies of the music you’re downloading. The best way to download music is to use them as samples for a music album. You download a music file, see if you like it, and if you do, you go ahead and buy the record. If you don’t then sample on to the next band. This way we keep the music industry going and it’s an all round win win situation.

All and all, downloading music is a great experience and you can even learn about new bands that you’ll want to go to the concert or buy the album later. Just make sure you do it from a legal source and keep your copies to yourself.