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Music files and copyright

Music files and copyright

Rome – Too many confused ideas about the legality or not in saving music files. This is what emerges clearly from the multitude of questions that invade magazines and sites specializing in IT or law every day. In particular, there are those who wonder whether it is legal or not to record mp3s from sites that broadcast via the internet or from the radio. Let’s try to take stock of the situation.

First of all, we must remember that in our country musical works are protected by copyright. The law is the infamous n. 633/41, modified and updated several times. This law protects musical works as works of genius of a creative nature . This protection entails various rights for the author, both of a moral and economic nature. In essence, the author has total dominion over the work. The SIAE (Italian Society of Authors and Publishers) is the body whose institutional function is to protect copyright by ensuring that every exploitation of the musical work corresponds to a fair compensation for the author. A special so-called multimedia section has been set up at the SIAE, from which it is possible to request licenses that allow the use of music pieces via the web. In particular, licenses authorize content providers to use in mode streaming on demand, download, webcasting .

Taking advantage of the network and looking for the meaning of streaming, it appears that this term indicates a method of transmitting audiovisual files in real time on the Internet. Streaming files are immediately usable online by the user without prior downloading to a PC, thus simulating the transmission of radio and television programs (it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streaming). Because three licenses ? Simply because each has a different function. We can speak of a streaming on demand license when the user can request the use of the multimedia contents available on the web server databases. A different thing is the download which, as you can easily guess, involves the possibility of downloading the file on your PC. Finally, we have the license for webcasting (so-called live streaming) which involves the live transmission of multimedia content. Basically three licenses depending on whether the service provides for selecting what is of interest, downloading or using what is available live. Consequently, the three licenses correspond to different rights and duties for both users and the holder of the license obtained.

In the first case – streaming on demand – the license holder allows the selection of contents allowing the user to listen only; in the streaming download license, the owner can allow you to download audio files: in this case it is as if the user were going to purchase a permanent right to listen to the file without being conditioned on connections or availability of the server from which he downloaded the file ; the file comes into its possession and can be managed with the same modalities and rights with which a CD-Rom is managed. Still different situation for webcasting: here the user is basically passive in listening to the songs, no intervention, no selection, it is a question of listening to songs exactly as you do with normal radio broadcasts. Three licenses, three different operating modes three different aspects of protection and payment of rights to authors.

In this context, how does the so-called right to a private copy of the work arise? Let’s make an aside. The current legislation on copyright establishes that the private reproduction of phonograms and videograms on any medium, carried out by a natural person is allowed. for personal use only , therefore without ulterior motives (diffusion, sale or distribution for any reason). The presumption is that by indicating the terms “private reproduction for personal use” by the legislator he intended to assume that making the copy is a person who is the legitimate user of the copy itself; and at the same time the term “reproduction” is used, that is activity aimed at making a copy assuming the existence of an original version (so for example those who bought the mp3 via the web).

This would suggest that in streaming download, possessing the audio file in digital format, it can also be reproduced for personal purposes ; in the other two cases, on the other hand, using the files online, this activity is not feasible. At this point the question now of excellence is: but isn’t this the same case as recording a film on DVD or music broadcast via radio on CD-Rom? No, I would say no, since buying a DVD or a Cd-Rom I pay a sum that is partly destined to the works covered by copyright, while if I download it on my PC I do not pay any rights to anyone!

Attorney Valentina Frediani