MP3 sites (named after the technology used to compress sound recordings into sound files that can be easily and quickly downloaded) are Internet sites that offer a wide variety of full-length sound recordings for downloading. These sites make it possible for anyone on the Internet to download music into their own computer system for free. Unless the creators of these sites get permission from the individuals or companies who own the copyrights to the music, their sites are in violation of copyright laws.
Music is copyrighted to protect the creative process and to ensure that those who have been involved in the creation of new music are recognized and compensated for their work.
Every sound recording consists of two copyrights: The copyright in the sound recording itself and another in the musical composition. The sound recording copyright is generally owned by the artist or the record company. The copyright in the musical composition can be owned by the artist, a music publisher or the songwriter.
Sound recording copyright owners - usually the artist or the record company - have a number of rights under current federal law that include the right to control the reproduction, distribution and various digital transmissions of their works. Therefore:
- Creating unauthorized MP3 sites by copying sound recordings to a server and/or offering such recordings for download is a violation of the copyright law.
- Creating tapes or CD's of recordings downloaded from the Internet without permission from the copyright owner is a violation of the copyright law.