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
How do I know if something is
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
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:
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
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
What will happen to me if I get caught
illegally copying or distributing
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:
Are there any sites where it’s legal to
There are plenty of Internet sites that offer music for
legal downloading. Please go to:
For more information, contact us at
; (615) 242-0303.
© Gospel Music Association /
Christian Music Trade Association