Table of Contents

Case Studies
Required Readings
Discussion Questions
Special Event
Additional Resources

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Last updated:  February 20, 2000


The relative ease of transmitting music files over the Internet has generated an intense debate concerning the proper role and scope of copyright in a digital environment.  By far the most popular method of digital distribution, the MP3 file format has already become the subject of several federal copyright suits and has spurred millions of dollars of investment in online music ventures.  Yet, the digitization of music is nothing new.  Compact discs have been around for years, long before this most recent of revolutions began.  What is it about MP3 that has so transformed the face of online music?

MP3 is simply a file format or, more specifically, an audio compression file format.  The format employs an algorithm that compresses the music file, achieving significant data reduction while retaining "near" CD-quality sound.  A three-minute song that would require about 32 megabytes of disk space in its original form can be compressed utilizing MP3 technology into a file of about 3 megs without a significant reduction in sound quality.  Using a 56k modem, the song can then be transmitted over the Internet in a few minutes, rather than the two hours that would be required had the file not first been compressed.

Compression formats are used in many contexts on the web and not just to compress digital music.  GIF files and JPEG files apply compression algorithms to digital images.  ZIP files are used to compress text.  MP3 is not even the only compression format available for online music distribution. RealAudio, for example, came along well before MP3 did.  MP3 has, however, become the de facto standard for digital distribution.  Several explanations for this phenomenon have been suggested.  One suggestion is that MP3's popularity is due to the fact that its format is open source and non proprietary.  Other observers believe that the algorithm employed by MP3 makes it the best format currently available.

MP3 technology enables users to download, upload and store much more music than before.  It is now possible for individuals to create virtual libraries of all of their favorite tunes simply by downloading them from the Internet.  They can "rip" MP3 files from their own CDs using inexpensive or, in some cases, free software designed exclusively for that purpose.  Users can then enjoy these files in a variety of ways.  They can listen to them on portable MP3 players or directly from their hard drives, they can send their files via email to other music fans, or they can upload their files to the Internet for anyone to enjoy.  And because the music is in digital form, each successive copy made of the sound file is of the same quality as its predecessor.  Such duplication is called serial copying.

It is because of these advances that some music industry leaders have grown wary of the new technology.  The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for example, has already brought suit against three companies that provide MP3  related products and services, alleging liability either for their own or for their customers' copyright infringement.  Consumers, on the other hand, have received MP3 with much enthusiasm, and thousands of independent bands, seeking fame and fortune, have booted up for the opportunity to distribute their music online.  The RIAA alleges that, as a result of MP3, copyright holders have lost millions of dollars of revenue through music piracy, while others maintain that these claims of injury are entirely speculative.

To make sense of this phenomenon, it is important that you understand the nature of digital music and the MP3 compression format in particular.  If you feel that you need more background in these areas in order to complete this week's module, feel free to read this primer or to do some research on your own.  Likewise, because this module assumes that you have some background knowledge of copyright law, you may consider reviewing some copyright basics.  This week's case studies will focus on two of the many ongoing legal battles involving online music; this week's assignment will then ask you to speculate on the outcome of one of those cases.  Also, be sure to check out the RealVideo archives of  Signal or Noise?, a conference co-sponsored by the Berkman Center and the Electronic Frontier Foundation that explored the legal and social implications of online music distribution.  The conference was held on February 25, 2000.  For more information on the legal and social implications MP3 technology, read the briefing book prepared in connection with the conference.

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Case Study 1:  RIAA Sues Napster

The RIAA has filed suit against Napster, Inc., operators of the website, accusing Napster of violating federal and state laws through "contributory and vicarious copyright infringement."   The RIAA's complaint describes the case as follows:

Napster is similar to a giant online pirate bazaar: users log onto Napster servers and make their previously personal MP3 collections available for download by other Napster users who are logged on at the same time.  Napster provides its users with all the facilities and means to engage in massive copyright infringement. For example, Napster provides users with a hub of central computer servers to which they connect; a continuously updated database of "links" to millions of pirated recordings; software that allows fast, efficient identification, copying and distribution of the pirated recordings; and a host of other services -- all of which enable and encourage Napster users to download millions of pirated songs as well as make available their own music library for others to copy. Because Napster creates its links from the personal MP3 collections of Napster users, without Napster, these infringements would not be taking place at all.
At this point, it is unclear whether the RIAA claims are sustainable.  According to one intellectual property attorney, "[i]f all they [Napster] did was make a list of MP3 files that exist, it would be hard to make a claim of copyright infringement. . . .[t]he question becomes how close they come to allowing other parties to copy files that are copyrighted."   Napster, which is still in Beta testing, doesn't "know why they are picking on us."

Some people in the music industry, on the other hand, say that they can see why quite clearly.  According to Ron Stone of Gold Mountain Management, which represents such artists as Bonnie Raitt and Tracy Chapman, "[i]t is the single most insidious website I've ever seen… its like a burglar’s tool."   Some artists are speaking out as well.  According to Scott Stapp, lead singer and lyricist for Creed, recording artists are hesitant to say anything about technologies like MP3, because they do not want to be perceived as being greedy.  He says:

When my music is given away, as taboo as it is for me to say, it is stealing.  I need not defend my motives for making music, but the distribution of my music has made me business conscious.  I have decided to sell my music to anyone who wants it, that is how I feed my family, just like a doctor, lawyer, judge, or teacher.  Not to insult anyone's intelligence, but my music is like my home. Napster is sneaking in the back door and robbing me blind.
Likewise, Sean "Puffy" Combs, CEO of Bad Boy Entertainment, Inc. was horrified at the infringement activities he alleges to have discovered transpiring over the Napster site:
I couldn't believe it when I found out that this Napster was linking thousands of people to the new Notorious BIG album "Born Again," a week before it even hit the streets.  This album is a labor of love from Notorious BIG's friends to the man, his kids, the rest of his family and everyone else whose lives will never be the same since BIG passed.  BIG and every other artist Napster abuses deserve respect for what they give us.
While this RIAA suit may be generating some support from the music community on the level of principle, it remains to be seen whether the RIAA claims will prevail as a matter of law.  For more information on the RIAA v. Napster suit, see the additional resources section.

Case Study 2:  RIAA Sues

In January, 2000, the RIAA brought suit against, alleging that two services, newly introduced by the company in connection with its personalization service, infringed on the copyrights of many RIAA members.  The two services allow customers to accumulate personal databases of music from their favorite artists on servers, which they can then access by "streaming" the songs to MP3 players installed on their personal computers.  Registration for the personalization service is currently available for free from the site, while the software utilized by the services undergoes Beta testing.

Customers are able to build personal music libraries on the site in two ways.  First, the "Instant Listening Service" allows customers to purchase CDs from partners and at the same time to gain access to digital versions of the music contained on those CDs from their personal online accounts.  Second, the "Beam-It service" enables a customer to insert a CD from his home music collection into the CD drive on his home computer, which communicates to the content of the drive. then registers the track information and places a copy of the CD into the customer's password-protected database.  Thus, in order to access any of the music files stored on the server, a customer must either purchase a "hard copy" of the CD from one of's partners or prove that he or she owns the CD (or has access to a copy of it). purchased the 40,000-45,000 CDs that it stores in its databases for use in connection with the two services.  Customers can listen to the music files stored in their personal accounts from any computer by visiting the site and logging in with their passwords and e-mail addresses.  The RIAA complaint alleges that users can also download the songs to their personal computers.  Michael Robertson, CEO of, denies the charge, insisting that users cannot download the songs and thus cannot "copy, trade or sell them" to others.  It appears that both parties are partly right.  Users cannot download the files for storage on their hard drives.  They can, however, play the files on an MP3 player and record the files to their hard drives as they play.

Can the security precautions built into the system be easily beaten?  In one sense, the answer appears to be no.  A recent report suggests that it would be difficult to "trick" the "Beam-It Service" into believing that a user possesses a CD that he or she does not in fact possess.  However, users of the "Beam-It Service" can borrow CDs from their friends, insert the CDs into their own computers,  have copies of the music placed into their personal accounts, and then return the CDs to their friends. asserts that it is not responsible for any such consumer misuse.

The RIAA claims that the service is harming the artists represented by its members, who own valid copyrights in songs available from the database. argues that the RIAA is a monopolist unfairly trying to extend copyright protection to prevent consumers from entering the digital age. is currently hosting a discussion forum for public debate of the issues raised by the case.

For more information on the RIAA v. suit, please visit the additional resources section.

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Required Reading

Note:  Unless otherwise identified, all the links in this section represent required reading.
Please follow these links before proceeding with the rest of the module.

The statutes and judicial decisions relevant to copyright law on the Internet are many and complex.  In this section, we will deal primarily with the statutory law that is most relevant to online music distribution.  This module assumes that you have some background training in, or knowledge of, the basic principles of copyright law.  If this is not the case, you may wish to explore first some basic copyright tutorials (optional).

The Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. §§ 101 et. seq. (optional), provides copyright protection both to "musical compositions" and to "sound recordings."  The former protects the musical work itself; the latter protects a particular recording of the work.  Thus, there will generally be two copyrights to any single recorded song that is not yet sufficiently old to have passed into the public domain.  However, even if the musical composition copyright has fallen into the public domain, a modern recording of it will still be copyrighted.

Under 17 U.S.C. § 201 (optional), copyright originates with the author of a work.  The author may freely transfer any or all of the exclusive rights that make up the copyright grant (such as the right of reproduction and the right of distribution).  The author retains any rights not transferred.  Authors of musical compositions and creators of sound recordings often transfer their exclusive rights to music publishers and record companies.

Composers and publishers are represented by a variety of institutions, some of which license activities that otherwise would violate the copyright laws -- such as the broadcast of music recordings by radio stations.  Other institutions engage in lobbying and anti-piracy efforts on behalf of the artists and publishers.   The Recording Industry of America (RIAA) performs a variety of such functions on behalf of its membership, which includes the largest record labels in the world.  The RIAA routinely patrols the Internet, searching for pirated files, and sends cease-and-desist letters to apparent copyright violators.   The RIAA also initiates lawsuits on behalf of its membership.

One of the earliest and most influential decisions pertaining to the digital reproduction of copyrighted materials came from the Supreme Court in a 1984 case challenging the legality of the video cassette recorder (VCR).   In Sony Corp. v. Universal Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417 (1984), the Supreme Court held that copying a television program for noncommercial use within the home did not infringe the copyright in the program.  More specifically, the Court determined that the practice of "time-shifting" -- i.e., recording a television program for viewing once and only once at a later time -- was permissible under the fair use doctrine.  The Court then ruled that, because one of the major uses of VCRs is time-shifting, the manufacturers of the machines were not liable for "contributory copyright infringement," even if they were sometimes used for illegal purposes.  To escape liability, the manufacturers needed only to show that their products were "susceptible of a significant noninfringing use," which they had done.

The current struggle over MP3 technology is not the first copyright battle that has been waged on the digital music front.  In 1986, digital audio cassettes (DATs) were first introduced, and many believed that this technology would take the place of the traditional and ubiquitous analog audio cassette tape.  Because the new machines recorded music in digital form, they created a new threat of large-scale high-quality piracy.  Records and cassette tapes are subject to wear and tear, and second- or third-generation copies created from one of these analog devices are often scratchy and of poor quality.  Digital audio tapes, by contrast, allow for "perfect" reproduction, in which each successive copy is identical to its predecessor.  The recording industry, consequently, lobbied against the introduction of the DAT into the United States.  (Some industry commentators believe that the resultant delay is responsible for the failure of the technology to gain consumer interest.  Others blame the lack of consumer enthusiasm on relatively high equipment costs and consumer loyalty to pre-existing audio cassette collections.)

Despite the fact that the threat of mass piracy threat supposedly posed by DAT technology never materialized, the recording industry's lobbying efforts did pay off in the form of a piece of legislation specifically designed to appease copyright holders' concerns.  The Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 (AHRA), 17 U.S.C. §§1001-1010 (optional), mandates the inclusion in DAT machines of copy-control devices that limit the ability of would-be profiteers to create serial copies of protected works.  Under AHRA §1002(a), a "digital audio recording device" must conform to a Serial Copy Management System (SCMS) designed to prevent multiple copies being created from a single work.  A "digital audio recording device" is defined as a device capable of rendering a "digital audio copied recording."  The digital audio copied recording must be a digital reproduction of a "digital music recording" and must be produced either directly or from a transmission.  See AHRA §1001 (skim).  Finally, under AHRA § 1002(c), it is unlawful to attempt to circumvent the SCMS.  Consumers, however, also benefited from the Act.  AHRA §1008 provides that consumers who make noncommercial copies of musical recordings utilizing a covered device or medium shall not be made liable under a copyright infringement theory.

The AHRA has already been once interpreted in the MP3 context -- specifically in a suit against the manufacturers of a portable MP3 player.  In that case, the RIAA brought suit against Diamond Multimedia, a company that produces an MP3 playback device, the Rio, which is similar to a walkman and allows an MP3 user to download sixty minutes worth of music files from his hard drive and to listen to them while away from the computer.  In Recording Industry Ass'n of America v. Diamond Multimedia Systems, Inc., 180 F.3d 1072, 1074 (9th Cir. 1999), the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found in favor of the defendant, ruling that the AHRA did not apply to the Rio device, because the computer hard drive from which the Rio records cannot be considered either a digital audio recording device or a digital music recording within the meaning of the Act.  Moreover, according to the court, because MP3 files are not coded with generation status or other copyright information, and because copies cannot be made of the files downloaded to the Rio, the SCMS would serve no useful function.

Despite its win in court, Diamond Rio is now working, along with many other institutions involved in the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), to introduce copyright protection mechanisms to its portable MP3 players.  The SDMI is a working group comprised of over one hundred and fifty businesses and organizations that are trying to develop specifications for the secure distribution of  music over the Internet.  The specifications that SDMI is developing are intended to be cross-platform, so that they will be compatible with many different hardware and software products.  SDMI has already fallen behind its initial proposed deadlines - it had hoped to have had its specifications ready for incorporation into merchandise by Christmas 1999 - but it has selected a watermarking scheme and guidelines for an encryption scheme that can be used to make copyright information readable from digital music files.  This information will be readable by SDMI-compliant portable devices, such as the Rio, which eventually will refuse to play pirated music files encoded with the copyright protection specifications.  We will discuss technological protection mechanisms, including SDMI, in further detail next week in the "Alternatives to Intellectual Property" module.  At this point, however, you should be aware that such mechanisms may have a significant impact on the future of MP3.

Where copyright protections are in place, it may be unlawful to design a product that will circumvent that technology.  Recently, RealNetworks, creator of the RealAudio music format, brought suit against a company called Streambox, alleging that Streambox's software allows for the circumvention of copy protection mechanisms that are built into RealAudio products.  The suit alleges unfair competition and violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998.  The DMCA §1201(a) (skim) prohibits the manufacture and distribution of certain devices that circumvent technological protection mechanisms designed to prevent the unauthorized access of protected materials.  Prohibitions on the unauthorized access itself will come into effect on the second anniversary of the Act.  Jonathan Band, a lawyer in Washington D.C., has written a helpful memo on the DMCA.   Please read the section of his memorandum entitled Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems - New Section 1201 (optional) and then read a Wired News account of the controversy.

The District Court with jurisdiction over the RealNetworks case recently lifted an earlier restraining order that had prevented Streambox from selling its "Ripper" program, a program that allows users to convert Real Audio streams to MP3 files.  However, the court left in place a restraining order preventing Streambox from selling two related products until the issues in the case are resolved.  For more information on the RealNetworks v. Streambox suit, see the additional resources section (optional).

The DMCA raises additional issues for Online Service Providers (OSPs) that maintain pirated files on their servers or that link to pirated materials.  Under the DMCA §512(c)(1) (and, indeed, under all but one paragraph of the section), "the term ‘service provider’ means a provider of online services or network access, or the operator of facilities therefor."  The DMCA §512(c)(1) exempts an OSP from liability for housing on its servers copyright infringing materials unless the OSP has notice of infringing material and fails to move expeditiously to remove it.  Thus, unless the OSP knows that a site hosted by one of its servers contains pirated MP3 files, it is under no obligation to search out such infringing materials on its servers.  The OSP must, however, provide a contact person to whom copyright holders can express concerns about possible infringing materials.  Once a copyright holder puts the OSP on notice that the infringing materials are present, the OSP must act expeditiously to remove them.  If a group such as the RIAA, then, gives notice to an online provider that MP3 files are being transmitted across its systems, it can put pressure on the system administrator take some kind of action to curtail the alleged piracy.

Likewise, liability under the DMCA §512(d) is limited where an online provider is "unwittingly linking or referring users to sites containing infringing materials."   The liability exemption for "unwittingly linking," is limited to the circumstance where provider is unaware of the infringement.  If a search engine provides an indexed list of links to counterfeit MP3 files, the RIAA could argue that the fact that so many MP3 files are pirated gave notice, or at least constructive notice, to the provider that it was linking to infringing material.  Relying on this provision, the RIAA has already taken issue with at least one indexed MP3 search engine.  According to the RIAA:

We have communicated with Lycos about their new MP3 search engine, and they have committed to work with us to develop procedures to eliminate infringing sites from their directory. They also indicated their intent to fulfill their obligations under the newly enacted Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which requires them to take appropriate action whenever they become aware of an infringing musical recording.
The Lycos search engine has since been reduced to little more than a collection of dead links, a common problem encountered when searching for MP3 files on the Internet.  However, other sites have sprung up offering sleeker indices and claiming to minimize the number of dead links encountered when searching for MP3 files.  For example, according to the RIAA's complaint against Napster, the Napster software interface provides thousands of  links to copyrighted material, almost all of which will lead to valid files on the hard drives of other Naster users.  In response to the RIAA complaint, Napster says that if it is specifically informed of infringing content, it will take steps to remove such content (and presumably links as well) from its servers.  However, just how Napster would go about removing any infringing links generated by its software is unclear.  The extent to which Napster will have been deemed to have been on notice and the extent of Napster's duty to remove the infringing content may well get sorted out if the case moves to trial.

Finally, there are three additional U.S. statutory sections of which you should be aware.  Please review summaries of the following: the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995, the No Electronic Theft Act and the Federal Anti-Bootleg Statute.

International Dimensions of the Issue

For an introduction to international copyright law, begin by reviewing Findlaw's doctrinal summary entitled " International Copyright Protection."  Then, please review the following articles from the Berne Convention, which provides copyright law protection to foreign nationals in signatory states:

Berne Article 2 (defining the scope of copyright protection granted under the treaty) (optional)
Berne Article 9 (right of reproduction) (optional)
Berne Article 13 (sound recordings) (optional)

For more information on the International Dimensions of online music distribution, see the additional resources section.

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Please turn your attention once again to the case studies for this week's module.  For this week's assignment, you should chose one of the following two options.

(I)   RIAA v. Napster:  Imagine that you are representing Napster in its suit against the RIAA.  First, read the full text of the RIAA press release.  Then, write a brief (500-word) memorandum summarizing the arguments that you would make on Napster's behalf, including both policy and legal arguments.  Please include a paragraph describing how you would counsel your client, including suggestions on how to proceed and what you feel the likely outcome of the case would be if it proceeded to trial.

(II)  RIAA v.  Imagine that you are representing in its suit against the RIAA.  First, review the text of the RIAA's complaint and read part two of a recent interview with Michael Robertson, CEO of, about the suit.  Then, write a brief (500-word) memorandum summarizing the arguments which you would make on's behalf, including both policy and legal arguments.  Please include a paragraph describing how you would counsel your client, including suggestions on how to proceed and what you feel the likely outcome of the case would be if it proceeded to trial.

During the second phase of the assignment, when you are responding to your colleague's memo, you are to assume the role of an attorney working on behalf of the RIAA in the case that your colleague has selected.  In your response, you should critique your colleague's memo and then present your arguments on behalf of RIAA.

If you are a member of group A, you should submit your assignment answer at the time and in the manner specified on the home page for your section.           CLE  | Section A1  |  Section A2  |  Section A3  |  Section A4  |  Section A5  |  Section A6  |  Section A7  | Section A8

If you are a member of group B, you are not required to submit an answer to the assignment but should feel free to discuss the issue in the Plenary Conference.

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Discussion Topics

1.    Independent record labels and their supporters champion the advancement of digital distribution technologies as providing them a way to fight on a level playing field with the major labels.  Assuming that we will never be able to determine with any degree of certainty what percentage of music files transmitted over the Internet are pirated and what percentage are legitimate, should copyright law endeavor to err on the side of the copyright holders or on the side of independents who may chose to distribute their music without restriction in an effort to get heard?

2.    For the past few years, many people have been arguing that the Internet will cause "disintermediation" (cutting out the middleman in many consumer transactions) and therefore cause consumer prices to fall.  At least one record company executive predicts just the opposite for the future of online music.  According to an interview with Jeremy Silver of EMI, digital music creates reintermediation, citing such increased cost factors as web hosting, music directories, streaming technology, security, watermarking, and transaction companies.  What does this mean for the future of online distribution of music?  If technological protection mechanisms such as those proposed by the SDMI work to curb the amount of digital music piracy, will people really pay for their music online, especially if it ends up costing them more?

3.    Some people have suggested that digital music will resurrect the idea of micropayments, small charges for online activities or purchases which accrue over time before payment becomes due.  Because individual record tracks are often too inexpensive to purchase separately, would micropayments make more sense?  Would you support such a system?  Do you believe that the major labels would support such a system?

4.    The WIPO Copyright Treaty of 1996 provides that it shall be illegal to attempt to circumvent technological protection measures implemented by the authors of copyrighted materials.  With the jurisdictional enforcement problems created by the Internet, is international copyright law the only remaining method through which countries can see that copyright laws will be effective?

5.   The first-sale doctrine in copyright law provides that once a copyright holder has sold the tangible embodiment of his work, he or she ordinarily will not be allowed to control its future disposition.  Some critics of SDMI argue that watermarking and encryption technologies will in effect allow the copyright holder to prevent any future sales or transfers of the work and will thereby frustrate the first-sale doctrine.  Should the SDMI be required to insure that the original purchaser of a digital music file be able to dispose of it as he sees fit, or will the market force the price of digital music down to compensate for the reduced value to the purchaser of the file who cannot resell or transfer the file in the future?

6.   Many of the more vocal proponents of MP3 argue that some music pirating is justified, because music companies are already "ripping consumers off" through enormously high profit margins on CDs and other non-Internet music sales.  Others have questioned the validity of this argument, suggesting instead that music companies lose a great deal of money each year on the unsuccessful CDs they produce, making some subsidy derived from high profit margins on better selling items necessary to ensure the record label's ability to continue production of more financially risky projects.  Who do you believe has the right side of the argument?  Can the legitimacy of music piracy be evaluated by economic observations such as these?

7.    One of the major premises behind the development of the copyright laws in the U.S. is the notion that artists must be fairly compensated in order to provide adequate incentives for their continued engagement in creative activities.  How is MP3 likely to influence the market for commercial music, and how will this affect the amount and quality of music produced in the future?

8.    To what extent should piracy be curbed by law and to what extent should it be curbed through code, i.e. the implementation of technological protection schemes?  How useful are the two enforcement mechanisms likely to be in the context of online music distribution?

9.    To what extent may norms be made to regulate piracy online?  Is the Internet simply too anonymous to make the enforcement of community norms realistic?  Does the fact that online music has always been free in the past mean that people will now be unwilling to pay for it when given the option?

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Special Event

On February 25, 2000,  the Berkman Center for Internet & Society held a "real-time" conference to explore the legal and social implications of online music distribution.  The conference, Signal or Noise?, was co-sponsored by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and was webcast from the Harvard Law School campus.  RealVideo archives of the conference by segment are available from the conference agenda page.  The conference's briefing book contains additional articles and resources devoted to the topic of MP3.

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Additional Resources

MP3 Resources

MP3 Players and Accessories

Grab a Player:  From Webmonkey; provides links to various MP3 players and accessories.

MP3 Players: provides links to available MP3 players by platform and information about configuring web browsers to enable streaming content.

MP3 Software:  From; links to players, decoders/encoders, rippers, skins and accessories. Software: provides reviews of and links to popular MP3 software products.

MPEG3 Hardware:  From; portable MP3 players and the latest in MP3 hardware devices.

MP3 Search Engines

MP3 Search Engines:  From; links to a number of popular MP3 search sites.

Popular MP3 and MP3 Artist Sites

MP3 Information Resources

Find/Play MP3s:  A Webmonkey Guide; provides a superficial summary of the MP3 controversy, links to MP3 players and accessories and a guide to finding MP3 files on the web.

Layer-3 Information:  FAQ page from Fraunhofer IIS-A, developers of MP3 technology.

MP3 Portal:  From; tons of MP3 related links organized by topic and complete with an MP3 news search feature.  An RIAA website which aims to curb online music piracy by providing students and educators with information about copyrights and penalties for online infringement.

MP3 News Resources

MP3 Rocks the Web:  Wired News coverage of everything MP3

The Future of MP3

Jesse Berst, "Where Next for Digital Music? (You Won't Like It)":  Predicts that AOL-TimeWarner will move to create a proprietary format for online music.

John Gartner, "Digital Music Will Cost You":  Jeremy Silver, vice president of new media at EMI, makes predictions about the future of online music and its increasing cost to consumers.

Jimmy Guterman, "MP3 Death Watch":  Suggests that MP3's days on the forefront may soon come to an end.

Eric Scheirer, "MPEG-4: The New Standard":  Introduction to the next generation MPEG coding specifications from one of the code editors.

Karen Solomon, "Record Profits":  Discusses the formats which may come to replace MP3 as the standard in compression technology.

Michael Stroud, "A Music Industry Death Knell":  Predicts a major shift in the way that music is sold, with the sales model taking the lead and the traditional methods of music distribution moving towards obsolescence.

Materials on Copyright

Copyright tutorials

Betsy Rosenblatt, "Copyright Basics", Spring 1998

BitLaw Primer

Cornell Copyright Primer

Cyberspace Law Institute, Cyberspace Law for Non-Lawyers (see lessons 2-12)

Federal Copyright Office Primer

USENET Copyright FAQ by Terry Carrol

Copyright link sites

Stanford University Copyright & Fair Use site

Articles related to copyright and the Internet

Don Biederman, "Copyright Trends: With Friends Like These...," Fall, 1999:  Written by the vice president and general counsel for Warner/Chappel Music, the article explores a number of changes in copyright law which occured during the last decade of the twentieth century

Anne K. Fujita, "The Great Internet Panic: How Digitization is Deforming Copyright Law," 2 J. TECH. L. &
POL'Y 1, 1996.

Mark A. Lemley, "Dealing with Overlapping Copyrights on the Internet":  Article is available for download from the site.

Yee Fen Lim, "The Application of the Doctrines of Contributory Infringement and Vicarious Liability to Internet
Service Providers", 3 W. Va. J. L. & Tech. 2, March 15, 1999.

Bob Kohn, "Primer on the Law of Webcasting and Digital Music Delivery," September, 1998.  Article detailing the music licensing process and the legal complexities introduced by the phenonmenon of webcasting.

Copyright and Digital Music

Music Licensing Organizations

ASCAP:  American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers

BMI:  Broadcast Music, Inc.

Harry Fox Agency



Recording Industry Ass'n of America v. Diamond Multimedia Systems, Inc., 180 F.3d 1072, 1074 (9th Cir. 1999) (summary | full text)

Sony Corp. v. Universal Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417 (1984) (summary | full text)

RealNetworks, Inc. v. Streambox, Inc.


Streambox response to RealNetworks suit


"Streaming Audio Ruling a Win-Win":  Results of first round in the RealNetworks v. Streambox suit, with comments from both parties.

Christopher Jones, "A River of Music -- To Go":  Explains the technological effect of Streambox's controversial "Ripper" software on RealAudio encryption.

Christopher Jones, "Real Screaming Over Streaming":  Details the RealNetworks v. Streambox controversy.


RIAA Complaint: Provided by

Letter from RIAA's President and CEO, Hillary Rosen, to Michael Robertson ,CEO of, notifying him of the RIAA suit filed against in Federal District Court in New York and Michael Robertson's Letter to Hillary Rosen in Response.


" Files Suit Against RIAA":  From; files a responsive suit against the RIAA.

" Stores Your CDs":  Describes the services that are now under attack from the RIAA.

Matt Carolan, "Pirates of the Internet":  Discusses the allegations against as well as discussing generally "current" events relating to copyright on the Internet.

Christopher Jones, "RIAA Sues":  Provides some legal analysis of's potential liability.

Mark Lewis, "Michael Robertson, CEO of MP3.Com":  Q & A session with Michael Robertson regarding the RIAA v. suit (see particularly part 2).

Courtney Macavinta, "RIAA Sues, Alleges Copyright Violations":  Estimates the damages may owe should it be found liable for copyright infringement.

Jim Hu, "'s New Features Get Mixed Reception":  Describes personalization services, Beam-It and the Instant Listening Service.

RIAA v. Napster

RIAA Press Release on Napster Suit


Janelle Brown, "MP3 Crackdown":  Discusses the RIAA's allegations against Napster as well as RIAA crackdowns on university piracy.

Robert Lemos, "Napster Plays Dodgeball with Music Biz":  Discusses some of the copyright claims that could be brought against the Napster service.

Courtney Macavinta, "Recording Industry Sues Music Start-Up, Cites Black Market":  Explains some of the Napster features and describes some of the copyright complexities raised by the suit.

Chris Oakes, "Time for a Napster Rest?":  Describes Internet traffic bottlenecks on university computer systems attributable to wide-scale Napster use on campus networks and efforts to block access to the site by some university administrators.

Mark Pesce, "Napster, The Media Network That Might Upstage The Web":  Provides some detail on how the Napster service operates.

Scott Rosenberg, "The Napster Files":  Provides some detail on how the Napster service operates.

Statutory Law

The Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §§ 101 et. seq.

Audio Home Recording Act Text of Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the conference report, and other portions of the legislative history. This page is maintained by the Home Recording Rights Coalition (HRRC), an advocacy group organized "to protect the right to use VCRs, audio recorders and computers for private, non-commercial purposes.

Ronald G. Dunn, Information Industry Association, H.R. 2281 and H.R. 2180 Hearings before House Courts and Intellectual Property Subcommittee (Sep.16, 1997).

Mike Kirk, American Intellectual Property Association, H.R. 2281 and H.R. 2180 Hearings before House Courts and Intellectual Property Subcommittee (Sep.16, 1997).

Honorable Bruce Lehman, Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, H.R. 2281 and H.R. 2180 Hearings before House Courts and Intellectual Property Subcommittee (Sep.16, 1997).

Roy Neel, United States Telephone Association, H.R. 2281 and H.R. 2180 Hearings before House Courts and Intellectual Property Subcommittee (Sep.16, 1997).

Jonathan Band, "The Digital Millennium Copyright Act":  Memorandum summarizing key points of the Act.

Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995, 17 U.S.C. 106(6) and 114

No Electronic Theft Act

Federal Anti-Bootleg Statute


Home Recording Rights Coalition

Kohn on Music Licensing


Treaties/International Agreements

Berne Convention (liks to full text)

Berne Article 2 (defining the scope of copyright protection granted under the treaty)

Berne Article 9 (right of reproduction)

Berne Article 13 (sound recordings)

Universal Copyright Convention, Paris, 1971

WIPO Copyright Treaty of 1996 (summary) | (full text)

WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty of 1996

World Trade Agreement 1994 (establishing the WTO and including GATT 1994)


Robin D. Gross, "Swedish Court Exonerates Teen of Internet Music Piracy":  Prosecutorial charges brought against a teenager who was linking to pirated music files from his website were dismissed after a Swedish court found that the teen did not "copy, distribute or spread the pirated music files" and, thus, was not guilty of music piracy.

Christopher Jones, "Swedish Retailer Pushes MP3":  Swedish company claims to be the first in Europe to offer secure digital music distribution.

Patrizia Piccolo, "Music Copyright":  Canadian perspective of music and copyright from a student-at-law.


Australian Copyright Act of 1968

Informational Sites

Articles, Analysis and Letters from the Dec. 1996 WIPO Diplomatic Conference in Geneva

World Intellectual Property Organization

World Trade Organization Intellectual Property Index

International Copyright Protection:  From Findlaw.

International Trade Instruments, Treaties, Conventions, Model Laws, Rules

Doing Business in Argentina:  See paragraph 4.4 on copyright.

EU Amended proposal for Directive on copyright and related rights

Link Sites

Franklin Piece Intellectual Property Mall:  International intellectual property links

Dan's Australian Law Index:  Maintains a list of copyright links available from topics index.

European Commission's Intellectual Property Section

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Copyright Policy
Module prepared by Jocelyn Dabeau under the supervision of Professor William W. Fisher III.
Last Updated February 20, 2000

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