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Piracy Glossary

Bootleg recordings (also known as underground recordings): A form of music piracy that involves the unauthorized recording of a musical broadcast on radio or television or of a live concert.

Burn-on-demand: To create a playable CD (a CD-R) by loading a digital recording onto a blank CD to fill a specific order.

CD-R (Compact Disc-Recordable): A blank disc that can be loaded with sound recordings by technology available for use on a personal computer.

CD-R burners: Devices that load sound recordings onto blank compact disks.

Copyright: The legal right to reproduce, adapt, distribute, perform publicly and display a work of intellectual property. Sound recordings have two copyrights, one each on the following:

  • the underlying musical work (notes and lyrics)
  • the actual recording itself (the artistís interpretation and the work of the producers, engineers and backup musicians as fixed on the CD, cassette or videotape)

Each copyright grants the owner a "bundle of rights," which includes the rights to reproduce, distribute, adapt, perform publicly and display the copyrighted work. Certain of these rights are implicated by an Internet transmission of music. For example, loading a sound recording into a server for future transmissions, making a real-time transmission of a sound recording or downloading a sound recording (either temporarily or permanently) to a listenerís computer -- each triggers the rights of the copyright owners of the two works embodied in the sound recording.

Counterfeit recordings: A form of music piracy that involves the unauthorized recording or duplication of prerecorded sounds as well as the unauthorized duplication of original artwork, label, trademark and packaging.

Licensing: The awarding of rights to perform, reproduce, distribute or digitally transmit a copyrighted work. Performance rights usually come from one of three organizations that represent songwriters and publishers: The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Broadcast Music Inc. or SESAC. Reproduction, distribution and digital transmission rights usually come from the original recording company. The RIAA as a trade association does not have licensing authority. However, it is helping to negotiate and administer the "statutory licenses" prescribed by law for certain kinds of digital transmissions of sound recordings.

MIDI technology: A computer technology that allows a composition to be transcribed into musical notation by playing it at the keyboard. Once in computer-represented form, virtually ever aspect of the digitized sound -- pitch, attack, tempo, etc. -- can be edited and altered.

MP3 file: A computer file created with compression technology commonly used to make digital audio computer files relatively small while maintaining high audio quality.

Music archive site: An Internet site on the World Wide Web or elsewhere that contains copyrighted recordings of songs or whole albums available illegally for downloading via digital technology onto a personal computer. See LAWS.

Music piracy: The general term referring to the illegal duplication and distribution of sound recordings, comprised of four specific forms: bootleg recordings, counterfeit recordings, pirate recordings and online piracy.

Online piracy: A form of music piracy that involves the unauthorized transfer of sound recordings from Internet sites.

Pirate recordings: A form of music piracy involving the unauthorized duplication of only the sound of legitimate recordings.

The NET Act, H.R. 2265: This 1997 legislation addresses criminal copyright issues, specifically facilitating the criminal prosecution of pirate bulletin board systems and Web sites in which the financial arrangements surrounding pirate distribution are often unconventional. It defines for the first time the "willfulness" element needed to establish criminal liability, steering a path between strict liability and any requirement to prove a defendant intended to violate the copyright law. The NET Act deals only with criminal liability and has no impact on civil liability (including service provider liability) for copyright infringement.


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Last Update: April 5, 2000