Music Copyright in the Digital Age

       A legal, economic, and cultural analysis of music piracy and its implications
"The Internet, and downloading, are here to stay... Anyone who thinks otherwise should prepare themselves to end up on the slagheap of history." -- Janis Ian ('98)[1]


This website examines music copyright infringement in the digital age. It has become nearly impossible to enforce copyright law in a world of decentralized file-sharing networks that cover countries with wildly varying laws and customs. How should international governments and music industries react to widespread copyright infringement?

The internet is a superior technology for the delivery of media and can inspire new business models in the music industry; iTunes is only one example of a successful digital music marketplace. Another development can be seen in streaming media. Where copyright owners once removed infringing media on YouTube, they now rely on it as a valuable source of advertisement.

The intention of copyright law is not merely to protect artists' intellectual property, but to promote the progress of the arts. Because copyright has become all but unenforceable, artists must consider alternative measures for recovering the costs of recording and distributing music, such as using recordings to advertise performances and sell merchandise. Recording and distribution costs have fallen dramatically as a result of the digital revolution. Embracing this revolution is the most effective way to promote the progress of the arts, a task formally delegated to copyright law. Continuing to enforce music copyright in this new age would stifle creativity in the industry, producing the opposite result of its original intention.


  1. "The Internet Debacle." Janis