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How Does Music Copyright Infringement Affect Me?

Music copyright infringement happens all around us every day, by people downloading music from their favorite social networking site to the guy who’s reselling MP3s. Most people who commit music copyright infringement don’t realize that it’s illegal and they can be prosecuted in the United States.

Copyright infringement, as defined by Wikipedia.org states: “Copyright infringement (or copyright violation) is the unauthorized use of material that is protected by intellectual property rights law particularly the copyright in a manner that violates one of the original copyright owner's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works that build upon it. The slang term bootleg (derived from the use of the shank of a boot for the purposes of smuggling) is often used to describe illicitly copied material.”

We’ve all heard of “bootleg” recordings -- usually audio recordings taken from concerts and sold on home made cassettes or CDs and distributed (sometimes out of the trunk of a car) to anyone who will buy. Bootleg recordings have changed, as music copyright infringement has branched into video recordings. Music copyright infringement has exploded with the advent of the Internet, and now people from all over the world are sharing every type of imaginable file -- from eBooks to audio to music. Small label artists began feeling the pinch years ago.

Many new and older artists are beginning to see the beauty of the Internet, and are offering their music for sale track-by-track on iTunes and other MP3 sales websites, as well as through their own band websites and MySpace pages. The Internet has helped up-and-coming musicians become visible, while at the same time, drastically increasing the number of music copyright infringement cases.

Music copyright infringement cases have helped to create organizations which protect the Fair Use of an item, such as a song. Organizations such as CreativeCommons.com and the Electronic Frontier Foundation help individuals know their rights under copyright laws.

While there are organizations that help you understand your rights as a purchaser of copyright use, there are organizations that want to limit the ways in which you use the products you buy. It is rumored, for example, that record distribution and production companies want to limit the ways in which you use the music you buy -- they don’t want you to put it on your computer or make a Mix Tape or CD from it -- for fear of “sharing.”

When music publishers and distribution companies limit uses like this, they’re creating a tidal wave of music copyright infringement cases. By limiting the use of purchased material, the companies are alienating their client base and pushing all their sales away from physical products and toward electronic ones -- which are much harder to control.

A way these companies tried to limit the use was by creating a DRM program, which severely limited where a CD could be played (on one computer, for instance). And, in one drastic measure, Sony placed a DRM program on all their CDs a few years ago, and severely crippled several networks when their “program” was actually malware that seriously crippled network security.

As you can see, music copyright infringement is something that is currently being fought between end users and music production and distribution companies. In this new century, we must find a way to retain copyright, and allow the customers to use the products they buy in a meaningful way, or otherwise the market will shift and the industry as we know it will be abandoned.

Submitted by:

Brian Scott

Brian Scott is a freelance journalist who covers copyright law for www.ResearchCopyright.com. Download his free e-book, "Copyright Basics" at ResearchCopyright.com.




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