Besides the record companies, who does copying music actually hurt?
First and foremost, illegal copying hurts the songwriters and recording artists who make the music. These people depend on the royalties they get from the authorized sales of their recordings to make a living. Many recording artists receive most of their income from royalties. For many young artists, income from royalties means survival. In the end, illegal downloading guarantees that artists won’t be fully rewarded for their hard work and devotion to the craft.

How do I know if something is copyrighted?
When you buy music legally, there is usually a copyright mark somewhere on the product. Stolen music generally doesn’t bear a copyright mark or warning. Either way, the copyright law still applies. A copyrighted creative work does not have to be marked as such to be protected by law.

Does copyright law speak against “peer-to-peer” services?
Copyright law does not speak against P2P services. It speaks against people who steal and illegally distribute copyrighted music that doesn’t belong to them. The music industry has been a major beneficiary of new technology (from wax cylinders to vinyl to LPs to CDs) and the current technological developments are no exception. But let’s face it, even great technology can be abused. And that’s what the industry is confronting right now. We have to figure out how to take advantage of the great new delivery systems that the Internet offers, without being seriously damaged by uncontrolled piracy. P2P in particular can really be a fabulous technology - but right now it’s doing far more harm than good.

Doesn’t the First Amendment give me the right to download and upload anything I want, including copyrighted music?
The answer is, no, it does not. What copyright law prohibits is theft, not free expression.

Doesn’t the “Fair Use doctrine” give me the right to download and upload copies of music I’ve purchased?
No, it doesn’t. In certain instances, the use of a copyrighted work for purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research might not constitute infringement, depending on (1) the purpose and character of the use, (2) the nature of the copyrighted work, (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work has a whole, and (4) the effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. However, courts have rejected the notion that uploading and downloading copyrighted sound recordings without permission constitutes the “fair use.”

How do I know what’s legal and what’s not when it comes to copying music?
Here’s the bottom line: If you distribute copyrighted music without authorization from the copyright owner, you are breaking the law. (Distribution can mean anything from “sharing” music files on the Internet to burning multiple copies of copyrighted music onto blank CD-Rs.) For more information about what’s okay and what’s not, please go to: www.musicunited.org/2_thelaw.html#5.

Is downloading and uploading music really stealing?
If it’s done without the permission of the copyright holder, it’s legally no different than walking into a music store, stuffing a CD into your pocket, and walking out without paying for it.

What if I upload or download music to or from a server that is based outside of the U.S.?
If you are in the United States, U.S. law applies to you regardless of where the server may be located.

Can I use E-mail or instant messenger services to exchange songs with my friends?
The use of e-mail or instant messenger services to exchange songs is governed by the same copyright laws that apply to any other form of reproduction or distribution.

Can an author grant any of his/her copyright rights to others? If yes, then how?
Yes. A copyright holder can transfer or license his or her rights, and he/she often does. For example, artists may transfer or license their labels and/or publishers the copyrights to their recordings and/or songs so that the labels can produce CDs, make them available on the Internet, and promote and sell the CDs. Rights are assigned or licensed only with the express written consent from the copyright holder.

What will happen to me if I get caught illegally copying or distributing copyrighted music?
Under federal law, first-time offenders who commit copyright violations that involve digital recordings can face criminal penalties of as much as five years in prison and/or $250,000 in fines. You could also be sued by the copyright holder in civil court, which could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars more in damages and legal fees. For more information about legal penalties, please go to: www.musicunited.org/2_thelaw.html.

Are there any sites where it’s legal to download music?
There are plenty of Internet sites that offer music for legal downloading. Please go to: www.musicunited.org/6_legalsites.html.

For more information, contact us at info@cmta.com ; (615) 242-0303.
© Gospel Music Association / Christian Music Trade Association