What Happens When You Are Accidentally Given Music MP3s By Music Labels Or Services?

from the questions,-questions dept

For a while it's been something of an open secret that music services like Pandora get around buffering problems by actually downloading MP3s to a temporary folder on your hard drive, and then streaming it locally. There are a few software products that will help you save (and rename) those files. Ed Felten has written that a new Billy Joel single is being promoted by SonyBMG using a similar system. It looks like it's streaming to your computer, but the reality is that it first downloads a full, high-quality, MP3 to your computer. So, the open question is what's the legality of saving that file? There are a few issues here. First of all, all of the RIAA lawsuits are about uploading, not downloading files. So as long as you're not sharing the file later, chances are, you're not going to get sued at all. But, the RIAA and others still could consider it to be copyright infringement by gaining "unauthorized access" to the file. Unfortunately, it seems that such a claim would be tough to support, since the file was place on your hard drive on purpose -- it's just that the service delivering it hoped you wouldn't notice it and save it. In the end, though, this helps highlight some of the reasons why traditional copyright law doesn't make much sense in a digital age. In order to get a better quality streaming audio, the best way to do it is to load that MP3 onto your computer -- but doing so may technically be considered copyright infringement in some manner. One more reason why it's about time people started rethinking copyright laws.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    The Swiss Cheese Monster, Feb 12th, 2007 @ 10:47pm

    Unauthorized access to a file? On a computer that I'm the administrator / owner of? I have never heard of such a thing.

    Your "streaming" utility downloads a file to my computer then the file is mine to access however I choose.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2007 @ 11:14pm

    Pandora's Box got updated!

    It's like a new version of Pandora's box. We are putting this file on your computer, but if you open it we will unleash upon you a terror the likes of which you have never seen!

    However with the way things are currently going, I don't think hope will be coming out of this box.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2007 @ 11:58pm

    actually this may well be 'unauthorised access to a file' *by them* if they haven't made it clear they will be downloading (as opposed to streaming).

    It may be the case that this issue will just be fixed to go away, if it ends up in a court it could be interesting to see which way it goes

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Strings, Feb 12th, 2007 @ 11:59pm

    Stupid RIAA

    The logistics of it don't seem to be doing anything illegal. Whoever put it there would be the one that should get sued, but because this is America the RIAA will most likely find some ridculous way of finding the person holding a copy of the music liable. No secret that I can just tell my computer to show all the hidden files in the temporary internet folder and rename it without any other help.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    All The Answers, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 3:08am

    We should just sue all the artists for making the songs. The way I see it, if the music wasn't created in the first place, we wouldn't be able to download it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Hand Man, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 4:38am

    Will The Porn Sites Do This?

    Do they download pr0rn movies too? Damn!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Jeffrey, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 6:50am

    That's pretty cool, I'll have to check it out next time I stream something!

    The RIAA's efforts against file sharing are soon going to be a thing of the past with all of these new softwares that offer ENCRYPTED exchanges. Look at GigaTribe for instance ( http://www.gigatribe.com ), their free software lets users exchange entire folders of albums in a few easy clicks, and not even the ISPs can identify what's being exchanged.

    The music model is changing rapidly, and consumers and small/medium artists are going to be the winners.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    dataGuy, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 7:25am

    Trust

    After the rootkit disaster, I wonder just how many people trust SonyBMG enough to "stream" a file from their site? You couldn't pay me to go to their site, let alone let them send anything to my system.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    GillBates, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 7:38am

    The doctrine of laches states that a plaintiff may not recover damages in cases where they failed to take actions which mitigated the damages. For example, if the RIAA downloads a file to your computer, they can't hold you responsible for copyright infringement because they could have mitigated the damages simply by streaming it from the remote computer, which, from the user's perspective, is what was happening. In fact, I'd argue that downloading the file to your computer, while making it appear to be streaming, is accessing a protected a computer system beyond the permissions given it - a federal felony.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Jason, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 8:13am

    I've been snagging ring tones like this for some time now! No big secret..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    TriZz, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 8:21am

    Streaming...

    ...if the RIAA came after me for doing such a thing, I would counter-sue. On the basis that I didn't download the song - that they (without permission) put the song on my hard drive. That's unauthorized access to my box, which - the last time I checked - is hacking/illegal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 8:59am

      Re: Streaming...

      I'm sure it is in their TOS to allow them to 'cache' data on your HDD for the purpose of improving the quality of the stream. Much the same as cookies and temporary internet files.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    sToOpId, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 8:54am

    Infringement

    If I were to ever use that service, and save the files in my own computer for my own use, and I was ever sued... I would just have my attorney build a case that points the finger at the provider. They placed the files on my computer and therefor committed copyright infringement. It is not like I actively downloaded the file and then uploaded it to a torrent tracker or whatever.

    No sane judge could find against that logically. Now, when money changes hands on the back end of the deal, judges do things logic can never explain.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 9:27am

      Re: Infringement

      Now, when money changes hands on the back end of the deal, judges do things logic can never explain. Jack, this article is about music (not video games) so what are you doing in here?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 4:31pm

    I think it would be a breach of contract more than anything - the eula is most likely to stipulate that you cant do this

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 6:46pm

    Re:

    Easy: tell them that you did not know that that file which appeared in your tepm. internet files was from their stream, since you had streamed it, not downloaded it. Play th en00b right and you might get off.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This