How to stay legal if I already own or wish to create a music blog/website

I found this while doing some research for a friend and thought to share it. Most web and blog site owners take a lot for granted when posting content on their platforms and risk being vulnerable to rights owners/managers. If being on the right side of the law is of concern to you, here are some frequently asked questions you ought to look at if you currently own or wish to create a blog, website, or an internet music platform:

How do I know if what I’m doing is legal or illegal?
•    Under copyright and related rights it is not legal amongst other things to copy, distribute, publicly perform, or broadcast a protected work or recording, or put it on the internet, unless you have permission from all of the relevant owners of rights or a specific exception exists in the copyright law of your country. This permission must either be in written or digital format and should always be handy.
•    Copyright and related rights apply in virtually every country. In fact they are required in the 150 countries that are members of various international copyright treaties, and the 145 countries that are members of the World Trade Organisation.

Is it illegal for me to copy and distribute music even if I’m not making money out of it?
•    Yes, unless you have the authorization to do so from the owners of rights in the music. The question of whether you are doing copying for profit may affect what penalties apply, but does not determine whether you are in breach of copyright.

How do I know if a particular piece of music is protected by copyright?
•    All recordings of music are protected by copyright from the moment of their creation. The duration of the rights granted to the different persons involved in the creation of the music are for a period of at least 50 years (and up to 120 years in some countries) from the making of the recording. Authors and music publishers typically retain copyright for 70 years after the death of the author. Protection is automatic.

Isn’t it legal to make copies for my own personal use?
•    This varies from country to country. The laws of some countries have limited exceptions to the rights owners’ rights to control copying, which allow a limited number of copies to be made strictly for personal and private use. In some countries this “private use” is limited to specific purposes such as self study or research.
•    These exceptions do not apply, however, if you make available or transmit copyright material over the internet, distribute your ‘private’ copies, or (in many countries) copy from illegal sources. Amongst other things, the law does not allow peer-to-peer transfers of copyright material. These do not fit the definition of ‘private’ copies. This is ‘public’ copying and distribution among millions of users.

If I have bought a legitimate CD, can’t I do what I like with the music on it?
•    In buying a legitimate CD you have paid for the right to own the physical disc and to play it privately. You have not bought the right to distribute copies, whether on CD-R or over the internet.

What if I just want to download a few songs to see if it’s worth buying the album?
•    That’s fine if you’re allowed to so by the holder of the rights. Some online music stores let you listen to clips from particular songs, or sample a limited download of tracks from their service, as a ‘taster’ of the music. Some sites enable you to listen to all the music you want from their catalogues by paying a monthly subscription. Some artist sites promote specific songs by offering free downloads.
•    But there is no general right or exception that lets you copy before you buy without permission.

Is all file-sharing illegal?
•    Yes, unless done on a licensed service or with the permission of all the rights owners, or unless all the rights have expired. Whether to permit sharing on a p2p network is a matter of choice for the rights owners involved. It’s fine if the owners of rights for any particular song agree that it could be put on a peer-to-peer service and copied and transmitted without payment or restriction.

Does it make a difference how much I’m uploading?
•    No, you are likely to be breaking the law whether you are uploading one copyrighted song or thousands. Of course the impact on the legitimate music community of what you are doing is more serious the more music you are illegally uploading, and the penalties are higher.

So what if I break the law – what can anyone do about it?
•    Where people make music available on the internet in breach of copyright laws, that exposes them to the risk of legal action by the copyright holders.
•    Owners of copyright and related rights regularly take action to remove illegal material from the internet and to seek civil or criminal sanctions against copyright infringers. Hundreds of millions of music files are removed from the internet each year through co-operation between internet service providers and the music industry.
•    Civil and criminal lawsuits have been taken against internet infringers in many countries. The music industry has announced its intention to step up action against copyright theft of this type.

Who actually holds the copyright in a piece of music – artist, record company, composer/publisher or all three?
•    There are usually a number of right holders and different rights in any given track. The people who wrote the tune and the lyrics and/or their publishers own authors’ rights. The artist that performs that music has certain ‘related rights’ as a performer. And a record label typically owns the copyright or producer’s related rights in the particular recording of the song.
•    Permission is needed from all of these people who created the music-or those to whom they have assigned their rights-in order to use the music.

Is there a copyright on all music, including music that may no longer be available commercially?
•    Generally, yes. While some very old songs or recordings may have fallen into the public domain, the vast bulk of those that appear on the internet are still under copyright protection.
•    The fact that a song or a track is no longer offered commercially by its creators does not change this. It’s their music, and copyright gives them the right to withdraw their work from commercial publication if they like.

What if I upload or download music from a site from a different country than the one I’m in, where the law might be different?
•    Internet activities of this sort typically involve acts of copying, transmission, or distribution in both countries, so both countries’ laws would apply. Copyright owners usually take legal action in the country in which the infringer is located, however.
•    Among most of the countries where the internet is prevalent, there are international agreements in place allowing court judgements in one country to be enforced in the other.

Is it alright to transmit and copy material over the internet if it is marked with ‘delete within 24 hours’, ‘for evaluation purposes’, or a similar disclaimer?
•    These excuses, when offered by someone other than the rights holder, are not recognised by copyright law. The law looks at whether rights owners have consented to the acts. Where someone else is making their works available without permission it is irrelevant whether these disclaimers are applied.

I hope this helps. Please be advised, the information found here does not constitute legal advice. You must consult the laws of your jurisdiction.

Article excerpts from http://www.pro-music.com • Image from http://everythingaudio.wordpress.com

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4 thoughts on “How to stay legal if I already own or wish to create a music blog/website

  1. You should be charged to court cos everything you’ve got here is copywrited, from the image to the article itself.

  2. All this plenty grammar copyright, copyright owner, copyright protector, copyright defenderr, all these one na for oyibo dem if you are a nigerian nothing do you, if you like you can copy a musician himself and paste on your site nobody go tell you anything the worst that can happen is that you fit receive insult. Shikena

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