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Legalities of Streaming Digital Music on the Internet

Are you a music lover?  Do you have a passion for streaming or downloading the newest bands and old classics?  Does music steer you through life’s ups and downs? Perhaps music is your soul and lifeline like it is for me?  If so then you should Follow The Music. Either way, if you download or stream digital music, there are some things you should know about what is legal and what is not.

Over the years things in the world of digital music have changed, evolved, and even found different places to call home.  Whether you use Pandora, Spotify, iTunes etc. you really should become more educated on what is legal and what is not. Both for your sake and that of the artists you are into.

First, let’s talk about the differences between what is interactive and non-interactive.  In accordance with United States laws Web radio stations and online music streaming services fall into these two categories.  What is the difference you may ask?

Interactive

When a person makes their own playlists to be able to access them anytime.

Non-Interactive

When a service is considered non-interactive then each user has limited control over what songs are able to be played.

Sites like Grooveshark and Spotify offer interactive services.  Whereas sites like turntable fm have what are called “listening rooms” and don’t allow the users control over what is being played.  So they are non-interactive.

When it comes to Grooveshark, they tend to get sued by artists a great deal.  Artists claim copyright infringement because of intellectual property laws. However, Grooveshark says it follows the rules of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  The problem that Grooveshark runs into is they don’t have the capability to keep proper tabs on who is doing what and with what files. Although Grooveshark does frequently send out cease-and-desist orders following through on them can be complicated.  

When it comes to non-interactive sites like Turntable fm, they are supposed to adhere to the SoundExchange Statutory Licensing For Non-Interactive Music Sharing Sites rules  SoundExchange is a non-profit entity that allows non-interactive music streaming service providers to pay out royalties if need be. Turntable fm is probably the safest of the music streaming websites since it doesn’t have to worry about royalties to artists.  Turntable only allows its users to choose a genre of music and then songs are played based on that.

The online world and federal laws have not always meshed well.  Although things are getting more clear on all fronts they still aren’t crystal that’s for sure.  It’s always best to err on the side of caution when downloading, streaming, or doing just about anything online.  Do your research and try to arm yourself with the best knowledge you can get on the subject at hand. If all else fails then call a lawyer and ask them.

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