MPEG Layer 3
MP3 and the Law

Audio Home Recording Act (1992):

This act applies to all digital recording technologies. It allows users to record music that they own for private, noncommercial use. It also requires that manufacturers of recording devices limit multi-generational audio copying and pay royalties to copyright owners.

Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act (1995):

This act allows copyright owners to authorize and be compensated for digital transmissions of their works. Traditional television and radio broadcasts are exempt from this act.

World Intellectual Property Organization Treaties (WIPO) (1996):

These treaties secure copyright protections in cyberspace and also strengthen international copyright standards. The United States has ratified these treaties, but more nations must ratify them in order for them to take effect.

No Electronic Theft (NET) Act (1997):

This act imposes criminal liablities on individuals who wilfully infringe on copyrights. Any person who makes or possesses 10 or more illegal digital copies of software, film clips, music or literature with a total value over $2,500 could be charged with a felony.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998):

This act implements the World Intellectual Property Organization Treaties. Its main copyright provision is the prohibition of "picking" electronic "locks" which protect copyrighted material online. It states, "No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title."

Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) (1998):

While this is not exactly a piece of legislation, it was instituted by the worldwide recording industry to provide security for digital music. Hilary Rosen, president and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, has this to say about the initiative:

"Creating a voluntary, open security specification benefits everyone," said RIAA's Rosen. "It will enable consumers to conveniently access the music of their choice. It will encourage artists, producers, songwriters, publishers, recording companies and others in the music industry to make their music available in new ways, knowing that it will be more secure. It will also encourage technology companies to move forward with interoperable products and services.

Related Links:
Provides a summary of the Audio Home Recording Act
The text of the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act
The texts of the World Intellectual Property Organization Treaties
An analysis of the No Electronic Theft Act by the Special Libraries Association
Chronicles the passage of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act
Information about the Secure Digital Music Initiative

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Ted LeVan   |   Huat Chye Lim   |   Marissa Mayer   |   Ann Rose Van

Computer Science 201 Final Project
Stanford University, March 1999