What Teens Want to Know About Downloading Music

Everyone has been downloading and sharing music online?

From the time you began using the Internet (or at least broadband everyone had been downloading and sharing music online. It isn’t any different from when our parents used to tape music off the radio. Is it?

For some of you, this guide will help you decide whether you will continue to download and/or share music online. For others, it will help you understand what to do if you or your parents receive a letter or lawsuit from the RIAA. Either way, it’s important that we understand the laws, how they work and what we can and can’t do legally with music online.

Wiredteens.org and Teenangels.org are looking for teen volunteers to design an awareness campaign to help educate kids and teens about intellectual property rights, and help get them to stop downloading music illegally. No one knows more about downloading music online than the teens do. This guide will help you understand what you may not already know. Hopefully, together, we can come up with a better answer to the problem than suing twelve-year-olds.

Here are your questions, and Parry’s answers:

“I think the laws about downloading music are stupid! I also think that this is all the music industry’s fault. They charge too much for CDs! Why should I have to obey stupid laws?”

You may not agree with the law. You may think that the recording industry has screwed everything up, or that they make too much money as it is, or that they charge too much for CDs. But none of that changes the law. You may decide to ignore the law, and take your chances with the RIAA. That’s your choice. But you should understand the risks before you make that choice.

“The laws are dumb and should be changed. No one listens to kids, and we know more about this than anyone!”

There are many laws that are key to protecting copyright and other intellectual property laws. Without them, the people who design, invent and produce new technologies and creative works won’t be protected. And lots of people will stop developing new content, including songs and movies, if they are not protected for their hard work. But, if you think the law is outdated and should be changed, make sure your voice is heard. Everyone on Capitol Hill is reviewing the downloading music situation and how to teach kids to respect intellectual property rights. U.S. citizens (even those too young to vote) can contact their Congressional representatives and Senators online. Not sure who they are? NP, you can can find out and reach them at http://www.house.gov/writerep/ by just inserting your zip code.

You’d be surprised how many people in government care about what kids think. They would care even more if you get involved by registering to vote when you’re old enough and making sure you and your friends exercise your right (and obligation as a U.S. citizen) to vote. (Visit MTV’s Rock the Vote site to learn more about teens and the vote.)

In addition, many kids and teens are sharing their opinions about this problem and others by building websites, writing articles for their school newspapers and posting their thoughts online. As long as you don’t make up lies about others, and stick to the facts and your opinion and do it without violating the terms of service at the site, your school regulations, your parents’ rules or conditions set by your ISP, you can share your ideas, complaints and opinions. To learn more about your right to share your ideas, visit the ACLU website (www.aclu.org), or read about the First Amendment at other trusted sites online.

If you don’t like things the way they are…be part of the solution!

“Madonna already has enough money, why do I care about her losing some more money because people are downloading music online?”

Whether you worry about Madonna’s finances or not, she is entitled to be paid for her property. And the music she performs, writes and produces is her property. She’s earned it! And for every Madonaa-success-story there are thousands of other performers who rely on the money from each CD to help them live.

I hear this argument from kids often. Sometimes they say that the record companies have enough money, or charge too much for CDs. It’s really the same argument. What kids are saying is that you can steal from people who already have enough money, or from people who charge too much. And that just doesn’t make sense.

The same recording companies sell CDs offline. Is it okay to steal a CD from a store? If not, why not? If they have enough money, or charge too much for the CDs, why not shoplift a CD? Kids who make this argument would never dream of shoplifting. What’s the difference? There isn’t one.

You shouldn’t steal online or offline. And downloading music without paying for it, or without the permission of the copyright holders is stealing. (There are several ideas many experts have for developing a new way of distributing music online. But until those are worked out, we have to work within the existing business models and the law.)

“I’m only downloading a few songs. How does that hurt anyone?”

You and 59,999,999 of your closest friends are just downloading a “few” songs. But those few songs add up to more than 2 billion song files a month. At the per song price of $1.25 from a whole CD, that represents more than $2,500,00,000 in lost revenues per month.

It really adds up.

“I’m not impressed. The recording companies and the artists are rich enough. I don’t care if they lose money on my downloads.”

While the recording companies and famous artists may not have your sympathy, there are also many others who rely on the money from CD sales to live and support their families. Just try to think about what happens from the moment someone writes a song to the time it ends up in your local store. At each stage there are people being paid for their hard work. And each and every time you download music online without paying for it, you are stealing from them.

These include the song-writers, lyricists, arrangers, the sound engineers, the cleaning crews at the studios, the telephone operators who answer the phones and arrange for the schedules, the truck drivers who deliver the CDs, the plastic companies who produce the CD materials and jewel boxes, the equipment manufacturers and installers for recoding and production equipment, the factory workers, the CD label designers and artists, the printing companies who print the labels for the CDs, the people who install the sound-proofing for the studio, the members of the band, the back-up singers, the sound-mixers, the advertising and public relations workers, the insurance companies, the computer and IT professionals, the secretaries, the clerical staff, the mailroom employees…the list goes on and on.

And one of our teens described what he called the “ripple effect.” If someone employed by the music industry loses their job, others are immediately affected as well. Their kids won’t have money to buy new clothes, computers, or video games. They may have to stop using cell phones, going on vacations, buying things, going out to dinner…That affects the clothing retailers, manufacturers and designers as well as the cell phone manufacturers, retailers and telecommunication companies, hotels, airlines, restaurants, etc. and everyone they employ. They may not be able to pay their mortgages, or send their kids to college. Everything is connected to something else. What you do, impacts many other people…remember that!

“I don’t get it. Everyone’s downloading music and have been forever. What’s the big deal all of a sudden?”

Actually, it’s not all of a sudden. The RIAA (The Recording Industry Association of America) is the industry trade group for the recording industry. They have been trying to stop kids and teens from downloading music for several years. According to some reports, the music industry’s revenues have declined 31% over the last few years. With 60 million people (adults and teens) downloading music online, the recording industry is really feeling it.

“How can the RIAA find out I am downloading and sharing music if I don’t use my real name?”

The Internet works through the use of IP addresses. (This stands for “Internet protocol.”) There are two kinds of IP addresses – static and dynamic. A static address is a permanent one that points to a particular IP-address owner. Very large corporation, governmental agencies, schools and others often own their own IP addresses and they are easily identified as coming from those owners. Most of the Internet users, however, are given temporary use of one of their ISP’s dynamic IP addresses whenever they log on. When they log off, the dynamic IP address is recycled and given to the next subscriber logging on.

When the IP address is matched by the ISP with its subscriber records, the ISP can tell you which subscriber was using a particular IP address on a specific date and time. The IP-matching records are not maintained for very long by the ISPs, however. Most ISPs delete this information after several weeks or months to avoid having to store massive amounts of unnecessary information. When dealing with a dynamic IP address, this matching information is crucial. Without it, a user is just one of thirty million AOL users (for example).

When you are using a P2P application, the IP address used by your computer when you are sharing files is easily available to anyone online. That IP address can identify the computer and the Internet account being used at the time, when matched with your ISP’s records.

When a subpoena is served on your ISP, they turn over your personal contact information (or at least the name, address and telephone umber of the accountholder). There are different kinds of subpoenas, depending on whether you are being investigated for criminal or terrorist activities, being sued by someone or infringing on someone’s copyright. (The special subpoena available to copyright holders is called a “512(h) subpoena” and is being reviewed by the courts right now, and may or may not survive.) The RIAA is using the 512(h) subpoena to find out the real name, address and telephone numbers of those pirating music online.

“What is the law, really?”

Boy, are you gonna be sorry you asked this question! The laws that apply in the United States to downloading music include the Copyright Act, as well as criminal copyright laws.

The Copyright Act: The U.S. Copyright Act protects 'original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression.' Huh? That means anything you create that is expressed in writing, on video, in music, in a painting or photo or in computer code, in a game, etc. It’s just the expression itself that is protected. That is typically called the “work.”

Ideas aren’t protected by copyright, though. For example, if you came up with a great idea for a new video game, your new idea (if you didn’t register it as a patent) can be used by others, but the words you used to describe it couldn’t be used by them. If you actually built the game, though, your game can be protected. That protection would include the game itself, the computer code used to create the game and your cover art, among other things.

It also doesn’t apply to facts contained in the work. For example, if someone writes an article discussing the baseball statistics for the Yankees over the last three years, you could use those facts without infringing on the columnist’s copyright, but couldn’t use their description of the statistics. While the facts aren’t covered, how they are used is protected.

Copyright law protects eight kinds of “works”: literary (including software programs); musical (including lyrics); dramatic (including any accompanying music); pantomimes and choreographic works; pictorial, graphic and sculptural works; motion pictures and other audiovisual works; sound recordings; and architectural works.

Under The Copyright Act people are not allowed to copy, modify, share, perform or even show the copyrighted works without the copyright owner’s permission. That means you can’t post the work at your site, or change it, or make copies of it to share.

When you download music and share it with others, you are making a copy and sharing it (distributing it) with others. That’s why it’s against the law.

“How can the copyright holder prove I broke the law?”

All the copyright owner has to do to prove copyright infringement is show (1) that the infringer had access to the copyrighted work, (2) that the copy is 'substantially similar' to the copyrighted work, and (3) that one of the protected rights has been implicated by the infringer's actions. If they can show that you had access to the music file, that what they found on your computer or site is substantially similar to the recording (it should be almost identical in the case of digital music files) and that you made the copy or shared it with others, they don’t need to show much else to sue you and win.

“You said that sometimes others can be sued for letting you download music, like Napster was. Why?”

You can break the law in one of three ways: directly, contributorily, or vicariously.

“Direct” infringement is when you directly infringe a copyrighted work. Direct infringement is what we call a “strict liability” violation. You don’t need to know that your infringing or even mean to infringe. You don’t even need to know the work is copyrighted. Simply by copying the work you are liable for copyright infringement. People who download music are directly infringing on the copyright.

Someone contributorily infringes when they provide “substantial assistance” for the infringement. He has to know (or should have known) that the work is copyrighted. (Napster was sued for allowing people to use their site to infringe music copyrights under this theory.)

Vicarious infringement occurs when the vicarious infringer receives a direct financial benefit from the infringement and has the right and ability to control the infringer. Parents may face vicarious infringement liability since they save the money on all stolen music files and are supposed to be controlling their children, and what they do online.

These indirect infringement claims were used to shut down the old Napster and are being used to try and shut down P2P networks. So far the lawsuits brought against P2P providers have failed. (You can read more about this in “Why don’t they just shut down Kazaa if it’s really illegal?”)

“What’s the worse that can happen if I’m caught?”

A copyright owner can get actual (if they can prove how much money they lost because of your infringement) or, in some cases, statutory damages (which are special amounts they can sue you for without having to prove they really lost money) which can be as high as $150,000 per infringement from an infringer. In some cases copyright infringement may also be criminal, exposing the infringer to possible jail time and fines.

“Are you telling me that I could go to jail for downloading music?!?”

Maybe, although it is unlikely.

The No Electronic Theft Act, or NET, was adopted to try and stop kids from stealing copyrighted materials and trading them online for other infringed works.

Until the enactment of the NET in 1997, in order for someone to be prosecuted for criminal copyright infringement, there had to be a profit motive. The copyright holders were worried about kids who were pirating games, software, music and videos and traded them with others. The NET was designed to fill certain gaps in the U.S. Copyright Act, as it relates to online copyright infringement and use of copyrighted materials online. It allows criminal enforcement against people who have no profit motive in the infringement, such a teens who exchange computer codes for music. The NET added three important provisions to the Copyright Act:

First 'financial gain' was redefined to include the receipt of anything of value, including the receipt of other copyrighted works.

The addition of the definition of financial gain to include 'anything of value' now allows criminal prosecution of online copyright infringement, even by kids sharing copyrighted software or games online. It was designed to address the problems identified by software manufacturers and publishers of copyrighted work which is commonly infringed online, in particular the infringement by teenagers.

Second, the NET criminalizes making copies of a copyrighted work with an aggregate retail value of more than $1,000.

This means that even if there is no profit motive and no receipt of anything of value, even other software or copyrighted material, someone can be criminally prosecuted if the total retail value of the reproduction or distribution exceeds $1000. (This applies even if someone merely send several copies of pirated software to friends online)

Third, the NET extended the statute of limitations on criminal copyright infringement from three to five years and increases the penalties and fines for criminal copyright infringement, generally.

While the prosecutors are not rushing to file criminal copyright actions against kids, parents and their children need to understand that downloading music in large enough quantities may be more serious than subjecting them to lawsuits. It may subject them to criminal prosecution as well.

“I only download about 20 songs a month, am I still in trouble?”

Actually, right now the RIAA isn’t going after anyone who is just downloading music. They are targeting those who are sharing it online. No one is really sure why they are limiting their lawsuits to those who are sharing music, but the lawyers suspect that at least one reason it is because it’s easier to sue someone for distributing the copyrighted song to others.

In addition, the RIAA believes that if they dry up the source of the music (file-sharing), the downloading will stop. They may be right.

But, right now at least, the easy answer is that it’s illegal to download, and downloading one song is enough to be sued. And even if the RIAA isn’t suing anyone yet for just downloading music, they could change their mind tomorrow. Why take the risk?

“I’m willing to stop sharing. But how do I know if I am sharing my files online?”

Unless you turned off file-sharing when you set up the P2P software, you are probably file-sharing. It’s generally the default setting of the P2P applications. WiredSafety.org has created instructions for most of the major P2P technologies that help you find out if you are file-sharing and how to turn it off. You can also visit the P2P site where you downloaded the software and follow their instructions to check your settings and turn off file-sharing.

“If I remove the P2P software from my computer, can the RIAA still find me?”

They can find you if they recorded your IP address before you deleted the software. They have used special search applications to scan systems that are file-sharing, and have thousands of IP addresses they are trying to identify right now. There is a backlog in getting the RL identities behind those IP addresses because the ISPs are fighting the RIAA’s subpoenas whenever they can.

There are a few sites that let you search to see if your name comes up on the subpoena list. But don’t be fooled into thinking that if it doesn’t, you are out of the woods. The lists are not fully current and there are many IP addresses that haven’t been put into the subpoena process yet.

“I don’t care what the law says, I think we should be allowed to download music and share it.”

We’ve received many e-mails like this one. Realize that the best way to fight something you believe it wrong is by changing the law, not being prosecuted under it. It’s an expensive experiment if you’re just trying to see how much you can get away with, and are caught. The law allows the RIAA (and any copyright holder, or someone acting on their behalf) to sue for up to $150,000 per song. On top of that, you can be forced to pay for their lawyers…and believe me, they’re not cheap!

If you want to prove your point, do it a better way. You can help WiredTeens and WiredKids build a website, deliver offline presentations, prepare a petition, write your congressional representatives, or your local media. Just make sure that you are being effective and not just putting yourself in a risky position. Get your parents involved too.

If you insist on downloading anyway, don’t share. And remember that anywhere you download music, other than at legal and licensed sites puts you at risk. Be careful and think before you click “share.”

“What happens if they sue me?”

No matter how you feel about what the RIAA is doing, being sued is a serious matter and you should get a lawyer right away.

“How do I know if the RIAA has found out that I’m downloading and sharing music?”

Before they sue you, they need to find out who you are. They can do that by getting a) subpoena which makes your ISP tell them who you are in real life. The ISPs have been fighting this, but so far, the ruling that gives the RIAA this power still stands. (It’s up on appeal.)

There’s a list of the people being targeted by the RIAA. (It’s not fully up-to-date, though, so you’re not out of the woods if your name doesn’t appear.) You can check the list and see if you’re on it. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (eff.org) has a search engine that allows you to search for your, your friends’ and your parents’ names.) Search for the name of the accountholder. If it’s in your name (at school) or your parents (at home), check for those names. If your name appears, a lawsuit may follow.

If your name comes up on the search, let your parents know. It’s also a good time to contact a lawyer. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a list of lawyers who are helping people who are being sued or threatened with suits. They are donating their time, without charge. Once you have found a lawyer who knows about how this works to help you, trust them. Tell them everything. Take their advice.

“If I am sued, I’ll just erase and reformat my hard drive and they won’t be able to find anything!”

Don’t think that by deleting the files, or scrubbing your hard drive you can avoid the lawsuit. The RIAA can reconstruct whatever they need, in most cases. And even if you destroy your hard drive or replace your computer to avoid their being able to examine whatever you have on it, if you are on their list and destroy any evidence you can face even more serious charges.

“I’m on the subpoena list and want to write to the RIAA telling them how stupid this is!”

Don’t send e-mails to anyone about this, especially the RIAA if you’re already on their list. Anything you say may end up in court…and you know the old saying “may be used against you in a court of law.” When you make it to their list, or are being sued already, don’t do or say anything unless your lawyer tells you to.

“If I am sued, can’t I just pretend I owned the CD?”

No. It won’t work. Even if you owned it, really. Owning a CD doesn’t change the fact that you shared it with others. So, it doesn’t make a difference. Also, don’t think you can buy the CD now and pretend you owned it all along. Don’t borrow one from a friend, for the same reason. And even if it made a legal difference (which right now it doesn’t) the RIAA is using special technology that can demonstrate whether the song track came from the CD, or from another source anyway.

“If we get a letter from the RIAA demanding that we pay them money, should we?”

Don’t pay any damages to the RIAA unless a lawyer advises you to. Don’t sign anything or let your parents sign anything without talking to a lawyer.

“Should I fill out the amnesty form at the RIAA’s site? Will that keep me out of trouble?”

Don’t fill out the amnesty form from the RIAA’s website without getting legal advice. It may sounds like an easy way to avoid risks, but there are hidden risks here.

The RIAA calls this the “Clean Slate” program. In order to be eligible for the program, you have to meet four criteria:

“1. You delete or destroy all copyrighted sound recordings that you or others illegally downloaded to your computer(s) or devices (including all storage and portable devices) using a P2P Network, and all copies you have of those files in any format (including CD-R).

2. In the future you do not illegally download copyrighted sound recordings using a P2P Network, you do not allow others to illegally download copyrighted sound recordings to your computer(s), you do not make copies of any such downloaded files in any format, and you do not “share” (that is, upload/distribute) such files on P2P Networks.

3. As of the date your Clean Slate Program Affidavit is received, you have not been sued for copyright infringement by an RIAA member company for the activities that are covered by this Clean Slate Program and RIAA has not begun to investigate you by requesting from an Internet Service Provider (“ISP”), by subpoena or otherwise, identifying information about you.

4. Any downloading or file-distribution that you engaged in was done on a noncommercial basis. Individuals who undertook these activities for commercial purposes or for payment are not eligible for this Clean Slate Program.”

(Copied from the RIAA.com site on September 20, 2003.)

The biggest problem we have discovered with the Clean Slate program is:

You are not eligible for the amnesty unless the “RIAA has not begun to investigate you by requesting from an Internet Service Provider by subpoena or otherwise, identifying information about you”

(paragraph 4 of the Clean Slate eligibility requirements.)

The problem is that no one knows when the RIAA has begun requesting identifying information about you from your ISP, unless your ISP has notified you. And thousands of subpoenas are being sent by the RIAA. It was recently estimated that about 80 subpoenas are being requested every day. Even the EFF’s subpoena search site is lagging behind and does not disclose all subpoenas sent.

“So, what? How am I hurt if I fill out the amnesty form and it turns out that a subpoena had already been sent to get my identity?”

If you filled out the form, admitting to piracy, and found yourself ineligible for the amnesty, you have just admitted to a possible crime and a clear copyright infringement. And you’ve done it in a sworn statement which could be admissible in a court of law as an admission. The RIAA could use this in court and avoid having to prove their case against you.ything. You’ve made their lawyers’ lives much easier.

“If they sue me, how much could they get?”

Too much! Up to $150,000 per song download! They are accepting settlements in many cases for much less than their original claims. People have been sued for billions of dollars, and ended up paying only about $15,000. The 12-year old’s parents paid $2,000 to settle her case. But $15,000 can ruin your life (and so can $2,000 in many cases).

They are also entitled to collect their attorneys fees from you, and those can exceed the damages in many cases. The RIAA uses very expensive lawyers, who probably charge upwards of $300 per hour, plus expenses.

“Why do my parents have to pay for what I did?”

Your parents may or may not be legally responsible to pay any damages. Check with a lawyer licensed in your state for what laws apply there. They are different state-by-state.

Generally parents are responsible for their children’s actions if the children live with them and are underage. In most states, if you use a home computer owned by your parents and an ISP connection paid for by your parents, they are responsible. But it’s not fully clear. Many lawyers are gambling on the fact that kids have no money and, if parents aren’t required to pay any damages perhaps the RIAA will stop suing kids. I don’t think that’s a good gamble, at least right now.

Parents may also be responsible under contributory infringement claims. If someone has control over someone else, and knew or should have known that an infringement was occurring, they may be responsible themselves.

“Won’t the RIAA stop suing kids if they figure out kids don’t have any money?”

The RIAA isn’t doing this for the money. They are doing it to scare kids to stop downloading and sharing music online. And it’s working.

“Let them sue me. I don’t have any money! What can they collect…my old skateboard? ”

If you are sued and lose, and think you are out of the woods because you are a poor student, think again! A judgment remains out there for up to twenty years. Hopefully sometime over the next twenty years you won’t be poor anymore.

Some teens, over 18, have thought about filing for bankruptcy to avoid having to pay any damages. This is a bit drastic, and could have long-lasting effects on your ability to get loans, credit cards and a mortgage later on. It remains part of your financial records for ten years.

Since you can buy music online from a legal site for about $.99, is it worth the risk? I doubt it.

“Can you download music online to hear it and decide if you want to buy it?”

The short answer is “no.” The longer answer is “probably not, but it depends.” (Sounds like a typical lawyer’s answer, doesn’t it? ) A copyright owner has several exclusive rights. But listening to their music is not one of them. That’s why you don’t have to pay to hear the radio. Unfortunately, copying is an exclusive right.

Now, some websites are licensed to provide streaming of music or are licensed to permit someone to download a 30-second sound clip to sample the recording. If a site is licensed to allow you to do this, you can do it legally. If it isn’t, you can’t. In most of the cases (a vast majority of the cases) the site is not licensed to allow you to sample the music.

“Is the answer different if you merely listen to it in a streaming format, instead of actually downloading it?”

Yes, very different. As I mentioned above, anyone can listen to music. It isn’t one of the rights reserved exclusively to a copyright owner. Feel free to listen, just don’t record what you hear. I suspect that Internet radio will benefit from the recent tactics of the RIAA in suing children.

Unfortunately, there are very substantial limitations on what music can be webcast. The restrictions came into place in the mid 90’s, and restricts how many recordings from a particular artist may be played within a certain period of time, and how often the recordings are replayed. Since they are also restricted in their ability to list what recordings will be webcast, no play programs can be posted. But if you can find the music you want to hear, listen all you want, online or offline.

“What if you own a CD but can't find it, or at another location, can you download another copy of the music legally?”

No. While you are allowed to make a copy of the CD you purchased (or selections from that CD) for your own personal use, you cannot download a copy of the same music legally. When you buy a CD (the old-fashioned way, at a brick and mortar store) you acquire certain rights. You can listen to the CD, you can make a copy for your own personal use and you can convert it into a format for your MP-3 player or similar device. You can also give your CD away to a friend. (Just don’t keep the copy you made while giving the original to a friend.) You didn’t acquire the rights to make copies of the same music from other sources.

Recently, someone charged by the RIAA used this as a defense. She claimed that she owned the CDs. The RIAA has been able to demonstrate (by using hashing technology) that the versions on her computer hard drive were not from the CD she purchased, but instead where downloaded from another user. Her argument that she merely downloaded what she already owned may not satisfy the copyright law for the reasons discussed above. While it seems like it should be permitted, the law doesn’t always make obvious sense.

“Is there a legal difference between downloading music and allowing others to download it from you?”

Yes. Although both are against the law, according to our friend and music copyright expert, Bennett Lincoff, Esq., if you are downloading music from someone else, you have violated the law. In the second case, when you upload it for others to download, you are violating the law and helping others do the same.

“If everyone's doing it, can the recording industry decide only to go after some people and not all people?”

Yes. According to some estimates, 60 million people have downloaded music unlawfully. There is no way the RIAA could sue all of them. (While they may try! ) They can sue one person, or all people, or something in between.

“If you want to use a song you already own on a CD but need it in MP3 format, can you download it in MP3 format to use on your MP3 player only?”

No. You can convert it into an MP-3 format though. (See above.) You can also buy it online for about $.99 in MP-3 format.

“What rights do you acquire when you buy a CD?”

You can listen to the CD, you can make a copy for your own personal use and you can convert it into a format for your MP-3 player or similar device. You can also give your CD away to a friend. (Just don’t keep the copy you made while giving the original to a friend.) You didn’t acquire the rights to make copies of the same music from other sources.

“What could the RIAA do to me for downloading music?”

They can sue you for up to $150,000 per song, and also collect their legal fees from you. In addition, although they have not yet resorted to trying to prosecute the music file swappers criminally, copyright criminal law may apply, and you could risk jail and criminal penalties.

Right now, though, the RIAA is not focusing on those downloading the recordings, only those sharing them with others online. There is no guarantee that will continue, however. It’s best to stop doing it entirely. Why risk it? Especially when you can buy what you want online for about $.99 per song.

Parry Aftab
Executive Director
WiredSafety Group

If you use this material, please include the correct citation:

October 12th 2003
Reproduced courtesy of the WiredSafety Editorial Database: http://www.wiredsafety.org/resources/editorial/
© Wired Kids, Inc. All rights reserved