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Beginners Guides: Legally Copying Software and Music

Beginners Guides: Legally Copying Software and Music - PCSTATS
Abstract: This article is a guideline on what you can and cannot do with your digital media under copyright. We wanted to dig a little deeper and clear up the somewhat grey area on backing up software and music.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCstats Oct 30 2003   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCstats

Music, MP3s, and Backing up your CDs

Unpaid sharing of MP3s, compressed versions of commercial musical tracks, long ago reached epidemic proportions due to broadband Internet and file sharing applications like Napster and Kazaa.

Unlike the software and film industries which have not offered much unified resistance to piracy, the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has hit back hard, using the DMCA as a tool. From closing down Napster and Audiogalaxy (two of the premiere music sharing applications that led the early wave of internet file swapping) to their recent controversial lawsuit crusade against individual music swapping offenders, the RIAA is taking no prisoners and is becoming massively unpopular in the bargain.

The main issue here of course is that compressed digital music can be easily transferred from person to person without cost, consumption of media, or loss of quality. This makes music swapping an attractive proposition since, as stated before, people love to share, especially when no personal cost is involved.The RIAA's crusade is intended to add that personal cost, and thus discourage generosity.

Commercial music is protected by federal copyright laws which generally prohibit its duplication, except for personal use. There is no law against converting your legitimately bought CDs, cassettes or LPs into MP3 files, however.

Since the introduction of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, some major music distributors have been adding various forms of copy protection to their audio CDs, often designed to make them unplayable in computer CD drives. Though these methods can generally be easily bypassed, doing so would of course be a violation of the DMCA, and thus of copyright. One notable circumvent has the user hold down the shift key while the Audio CD spins up.

'Fair use' of personally purchased music does not apply to making it available online for download. This is true in both the United States and Canada. The actual downloading of music is not technically a violation of copyright in Canada however.

Under the DMCA, copyright holders in the United States are considerably more able to target violators with civil lawsuits, which explains why all the current RIAA lawsuits and warnings are aimed south of the border. This is not to say that music sharing is legal in Canada, however. There is a false perception that it is, but sharing music files online is still a violation of Canadian copyright law.

Handling music on your computer legally

You may copy music you have purchased onto another medium for personal use, and this includes converting it into MP3 files for use on your computer or a portable player. Legally, you may not share these files privately or publicly over the Internet without violating copyright.

As with software, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the United States makes it illegal to circumvent copy protection on digital audio media, meaning that if you have purchased a copy protected audio CD, you may not legally defeat these measures in order to transfer the audio tracks to MP3s on your computer. Efforts to have this portion of the DMCA changed have been underway for some time now.

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Contents of Article: PCstats
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: Legally Copying Software and Music
 Pg 2.  The Digital Millennium Copyright Act
 Pg 3.  When can you backup legally?
 Pg 4.  — Music, MP3s, and Backing up your CDs
 Pg 5.  Movies and DVDs

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