Is Downloading Free Music from the Internet Unethical?
Copyright infringement is not a new issue. The issue has been debated in court since the development of the VCR. In Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios, the court ruled that “the sale of copying equipment” was legal because the VCR was “capable of substantial noninfringing uses.” (Yarbrough) The issue with music sharing is that its only purpose is a copyright infringing act. New advancements in technology have always made life faster, easier and more convenient. They’ve also had their share of court cases, which have defined rules and set guidelines for future cases. When trying to determine if downloading music from an online source is ethical, one must look at various court cases throughout the years to understand the history of the issue. The following court cases could help one make such a decision.
A&M Records vs. Napster (2001) Their activities were ruled to be inductive to financial gain from illegal infringement. (Laws.com)
MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd. (2005) Providers of Software that’s designed to enable “file sharing” of copyrighted works may be held liable for the infringement that takes place using that software. (Copyright.gov)
Arista Records LLC v. Lime Group LLC (2006) By distributing and maintaining LimeWire (they) intentionally induced direct infringement by users. (Zavin)
Viacom Vs. Google (2007) YouTube was not liable for infringement because it removed unauthorized videos when informed about them. (Jeffrey)
The consensus of previous court hearings seems to be that free music downloads are unethical because the artists are not being paid for their work. This however, has not deterred other websites from offering free music downloads. “Tensions have eased substantially, as YouTube has set up an automated system to detect and block infringing videos and has signed revenue-sharing agreements with more than a thousand media...
Cited: Yarbrough, Robert J. http://www.yarbroughlaw.com/Publications/pubs%20patent4%20indirect%20infringement%20of%20copyright.htm. 2005.
Laws.com. http://copyright.laws.com/famous-cases. n.d.
Copyright.gov. http://www.copyright.gov/docs/mgm/index.html. 07 Feb 2011.
Zavin, Jonathan. http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=64e94aff-73a5-4ece-bcfa-2a9d007f8452. 19 May 2010.
Jeffrey, Don. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-17/music-publishing-group-drops-appeal-of-youtube-copyright-infringement-case.html. 17 Aug 2011.
Helft, Miguel. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/24/technology/24google.html. 23 June 2010.
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