Practical And Legal Aspects Of Free P2P Music Downloads

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Practical And Legal Aspects Of Free P2P Music Downloads
The legal aspects of free P2P
downloads is often either
ignored or misunderstood. The
law is not obscure with regard
to downloading music and movies
using file sharing services, and
nobody should be in doubt that
downloading copyright-protected
music or movies is illegal.
However, there is some confusion
over the term ‘copyright

As if copyright was not
confusing enough, there are now
worldwide, and in the USA even
inter-state, moves to increase
the copyright period.  That is,
how long after the death of the
originator should the copyright
of music or intellectual works
stand? Quite frankly, I am of
the view that it should be a
specific period of time after
the copyright was claimed. Not
only that, but copyright should
awarded in the same way as a
patent and that would resolve
all confusion.

By allowing a body, such as the
Patents Office, to award
copyright to an individual, that
individual could then release
their work to the population at
large or keep it to himself and
permit licenses for others to
publish or use the work. Free
P2P music
downloads would then
possibly be a thing of the past
– or the future if the artists
allowed that.

Copyright should lapse at a
certain time period after it has
been awarded – say 50 years. So
a piece of music copyrighted in
1960 could be anybody’s to use
in 2010. That does not seem
unreasonable – but it won’t
happen! Why?  Because of the
moguls – the music and movie
magnates that want it all for
themselves to the extent that
the Copyright Term Extension Act
of 1998 extended to copyright
period by 20 years!

To find out if a work is still
under copyright, you first have
to find out who composed or
wrote it, and then when they
died.  And then find out what
the current law says you have to
wait after that.  Confusing or
what? As for a movie – is it
when the producer dies, the
director, the writer – or the
whole bunch of them? Who knows!

In fact, copyright law is now in
a right old mess, and very few
who are not lawyers really
understand it. Little wonder
kids are illegally downloading
music without knowing what they
are doing! You can register with
a P2P file sharing service that
says it is a legal service. So
you register, and then find you
can download loads of music
tracks and movies, many of them
new, so do so believing it to be

The problem is that it is not
the P2P software that is illegal
but the free P2P music downloads
that are being made illegally.
Legal software can be used in a
perfectly legal way, but
downloading free P2P music
or bootleg movies is
not legal because they are
protected by the Copyright Act.
And if you had downloaded public
domain movies
or music that were
50 years older than the date of
death of the originator, these
are also now illegal due to the
1998 act making it 70 years

How confusing, and no wonder
people have stopped bothering
and now just download anything
that comes their way. However,
you shouldn’t do it. Still, the
temptation is high because you
can buy a lifetime registration
that enables you to download any
track that your friend has on
their CD. Isn’t that just the
same as taping or recording
music from the radio?  Why was
there never a big outcry about

I remember getting an old
fashioned (now) reel-to-reel
tape recorder for my 21st and
the first thing I did was fill
the 3 hour tape with chart hits
from the radio. There was no
outcry, no guys in suits
knocking on my door at midnight.
So what’s new with kids doing
the same online? What’s new is
people are selling it – mainly
from the Far East, and it’s no
longer allowable to target just
them. It’s politically incorrect
– at least that’s my view. To
chase the Chinese video
millionaires you must also chase
the kids of Zook High in Kansas.
Unbelievable or what!

You may laugh, but for you there
is a dilemma.  You have easily
acquired software that lets you
break the law.  How do you use
it? The answer is you don’t – at
least not illegally.  Use it to
download stuff that’s not
copyright protected.  How do you
know?  You don’t! If you
register with a file sharing
service that charges for a one
year or even lifetime license to
use it, it will likely tell you
if a music or movie file is
protected. You then get the
choice – leave it or take a
chance that you won’t get

The vast majority isn’t, and the
movie guys don’t even seem to
bother.  They don’t have the
intelligence to use the software
to their advantage, but at least
the music guys make an effort.
Some tracks cannot be
downloaded, so why isn’t the
same system used on them all?
Money likely!

One tip for you:  The sites that
offer free movie downloads
provide software to download the
movies that is the same as that
used for free P2P music
downloads. So you can join and
get movie and music downloads
free – except for the membership
charge that pays for the support
and the accelerated download
time that is 100% essential!

However:  do not use it to
download copyright material if
you can find what that is.  That
should be made easier, but the
rule seems to be that if you
have heard of the singer or the
movie actors then it’s
copyrighted! These guys should
get more with it and make it
easier instead of harder.

So the answer and the final
advice on free P2P music
downloads? Don’t do it, but if
you are tempted then find out
about the legal aspects of it


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