Legal Music Downloads

Check out Campus Downloading for a list of legal music downloading sites.


Frequently Asked Questions:music

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-R's and selling or giving them to others.)

Is it illegal to upload music onto the Internet even if I don't charge for it?

Yes, if the music is protected by copyright and you don't have the copyright holder's permission. U.S. copyright law prohibits the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted creative work whether or not you charge money for it.

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.

Am I breaking the law if I upload or download copyrighted music and leave it on my hard drive for less than 24 hours?

Reproducing or distributing copyrighted music without the permission of the copyright holder is against the law regardless of how long you hold on to the music.

Is it legal to post music that is no longer "in print"?

Copyrights don't last forever. Eventually all creative work becomes part of what is called the public domain-at which point anyone and everyone is free to copy and distribute it as they please. But just because a particular recording has gone out of print doesn't mean its copyright has lapsed. If it hasn't, then you need to get permission from the copyright holder before you post it.

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.

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.