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The Internet and the Music Industry sample essay

The internet and the music industry are in a lot of conflict with each other due to the associated copyright and piracy issues. Recorded music created by several artists can be accessed over the internet free of cost. This has simply resulted in several changes as to the ways in which music is created and delivered. The public has great access to the internet and is also a very convenient mean to help disseminate music. However, copyright laws are an instrument which needs to be utilized more effectively to transmit music. The main objective of copyright is to reward the creator for his/her work and make the work more accessible to customers, rather than to act as a hindrance to effective distribution of music. However, with respect to copyright and the distribution of music over the internet, there are two issues or concerns:-
There are issues regarding the cost of transactions and payment over the internet. A single piece of work would involve two separate works which are individually copyright-protected. This includes the musical work and the second includes the sound recording. The musical work includes the musical notes and the words. A sound recording on the other hand is the fixation of sound and could be a performance of a musical work. When the recorded musical performance is transmitted over the internet, both the musical work and the sound recording are transmitted. According to copyright laws, various rights and limitations are present with relation to musical work and sound recording. This makes copyright issues application very difficult with relation to the internet.
There may be several copyright exemptions and compulsory licenses given by the government for musical works. This is to encourage dissemination of music. However, using the internet to download music would mean that frequently the owners of the musical performance (including the musical work and the sound recording) are usually not contacted. This makes the process of providing licenses and exemptions by the government as completely null and void.

The owner of the musical work and the sound recording would have certain rights to reproduction and public performance. The owner of the musical work can:-
Make copies or reproductions of the musical work
Make licenses available to other parties
Can give permission to public performance

The owner of the sound recording can:-
Make copies or reproductions of the sound recording
Cannot provide compulsory licenses to other parties
Limited right to public performance

Many people feel that copyrights are becoming more and more unenforceable due to the internet. The internet has made imposing intellectual property rights very difficult indeed. However, some other people feel that the law is unable to meet the demands of technology currently, and within a short period of time it would be able to control the flow of music over the internet. The Napster case is a classical example of how technology can overcome copyright justification. However, sooner or later there would be return addressed in some way. In the Napster case, the service provider Napster had a web service that permitted music to be swapped. People were able to connect to each other and share and distribute music. Several music artists began to sue Napster for alleging infringing their copyrights by distributing their music illegally.

However, Napster said that it was not storing the music files in its servers, but rather the music lovers were doing so. Napster was merely acting as a connecting media between the peers, and was only encouraging peer-to-peer exchanges, rather than making an attempt to infringe the copyright of the artists. Napster said that if it had a centralized structure and stored the music on a central server, it would be infringing upon the rights of the artists by encouraging illegal distribution of music. The beginning of the digital age meant that copyrights began to be overlooked, disrespected and often abused.

One of the landmark cases in this regard was the Sony Corporation case, which ensured that copying could be performed. In this case, Sony Corporation developed the video cassette recorder and marketed its product. Several parties who felt that Sony’s VCR would be infringing upon their copyright filed laws suits against the company alleging contributory infringement of their copyrights (Sony helped the people to enable copying of copyright protected videos). However, Sony gave the justification that the VCR use was mainly for time shifting rather than infringing on the Copyrights of the artists.

Today there is very poor ethics and morals regarding the need to protect the copyrights of the true owners. Greater amount of public awareness and educational processes need to be conducted to ensure that people are aware of the need to protect copyrights. Internet service providers are not merely peer-to-peer distributers, but are acting as strong contributory infringers of copyrights. The legal processes should be made more stringent to ensure that internet service providers do not develop the justifications to enable illegal and mass transfer of music over the internet. Other people feel that technology could itself be utilized as a protective mechanism to help prevent privacy and illegal transmission of music over the internet.

One of these mechanisms has been encryption, which effectively helps to encode and decode music whilst transferring it over the internet. Hackers may not only be attacking websites and servers but also clients who store music on their systems. Another technological device to help protect copyrights has been the Digital Rights management system (DRMS). This system helps to permit only limit copying and any excessive copying would be prevented.

The user would also have to use a key in the form of a password to gain access to the system. With time, more and more advanced systems are coming up which could help prevent excessive copying of music over the internet. Other system that could help prevent piracy includes watermarking, permitting music listening on a pay basis, greater use of advertisements, etc. THE WIPO to a certain extent has prevented excessive copying by developing a strong international policy and also ensuring proper enforcement of copyright laws in member nations. Besides, music should be made more attractive to shop online. The music artists should ensure stronger sale of adverstisements and shopping of music online.


Reesem, R. (2001). Copyright and Internet Music Transmissions: Existing Law, Major Controversies, Possible Solutions, University of Miami Law Review, 55, 273.

Reesem, R. (2001). Copyright and Internet Music Transmissions: Existing Law, Major Controversies, Possible Solutions, University of Miami Law Review, 55, 273.

Long, M. (2000). FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT: Enforcing Copyright rules on the Web, Interative Week, 7(34),

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