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Music Library: Copyright – Case Law

Case Law

Lest you think that legal action is rarely taken against people who violate copyright, here are some articles and websites that prove differently.



Bergman, Alan S. “An Original Or Copy? Understanding the Nuances of Copyright Infringement.” DOWNBEAT (DOWN BEAT), Jazz, Blues & Beyond 75, (2008): 94.

The writer discusses copyright law as it stands in regard to the actual copying of elements of a musical composition and the use of so-called samples. Advice for jazz musicians on registering compositions for copyright is provided.

Butler, Susan. “Copyright Showdown in File-Sharer Suit.” Billboard 118, no. 16 (2006): 11.

The article focuses on the amicus briefs regarding the copyright law in the U.S. filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and computer groups in February 2006. Seevral entertainment groups are turning a lawsuit against an alleged peer-to-peer file-sharer into a loaded copyright question. They want the court to rule that transmitting a sound recording from computer to computer over the Internet is not a distribution under copyright law. Provisions of the Copyright Act are disclosed.

Electronic Frontier Foundation. “White Papers” website: (retrieved Dec. 20, 2011).

A collection of resources that may be useful to music fans caught up in the RIAA lawsuit campaign and the lawyers who defend them.

Electronic Frontier Foundation. “RIAA v. The People: Five Years Later.” website: (retrieved Nov. 30, 2009).

A continuation of the original web article, including viable legal alternatives.

Gardner, Eriq. “LEGAL ROUND UP.” Billboard 120, no. 36 (2008): 10.

A ruling that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides safe harbor to user-generated web sites which promptly remove copyrighted materials upon complaint is discussed. It is noted that the DMCA also allows victims of meritless takedown notices to seek damages, so copyright owners will need to consider the fair use doctrine before sending takedown requests.

Hamelman, Steven. “It’s a Legal Matter, Baby: Fair use Law and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Scholar.” Popular Music & Society28, no. 5 (2005): 577-594.

Hamelman analyzes recent legal developments in copyright, discusses their impact on his 2004 book on rock ‘n’ roll music, and then provides guidelines for aspiring authors in this field. The essay argues that scholars must not assume that lyrics can be quoted with impunity, and that to avoid repercussions they should prepare themselves for an arduous permissions process.

Saltzman, Jonathan. “Trial to Begin in Music Copyright Case.” The Boston Globe, July 28, 2009.

Four major record labels who sued a Boston University graduate student for illegally downloading and sharing music online plan to begin making their case before a federal jury in what is only the second such dispute in the nation to go to trial.

Werner, Nic. ““The RIAA will get you”, in UWM Post, Vol 51, No. 27 (April 16, 2007), p. 25.

Article reacts to RIAA targeting local UWM students in illegal downloading of music files.