Music downloaders have started to pop up all over the internet. They are tools that one can use to download audio from YouTube videos, Soundcloud, and other sources. The same tool can also convert them into an mp3 file. These music downloaders allow users to download music for free. It begs the question, is downloading music from music downloaders illegal?
What are the consequences for downloading music from music downloaders? Are all downloaders illegal? Is all music illegal to download or do the laws only apply to certain songs? There are so many questions to ask, and we’ll be answering them throughout this article.
What is a Music Downloader?
A music downloader is a tool that one can use to download music directly from inputted sources. Music downloaders give users the ability to download any song available online and turn it into an mp3 file. Once the conversion and download take place, one can use the mp3 file. Either play music locally or transfer to a portable device like a smartphone to listen to the song on the go.
Many websites host music downloaders, and they all offer a similar service. On these music downloader sites, you can paste a link to a YouTube video or Soundcloud song and the downloader will convert it into a file of your choice. The conversion usually takes a minute, and the user can then download the file onto their computer.
Some music downloaders can rip music from other platforms. But most of the time music downloaders focus on converting audio from YouTube videos and Soundcloud songs.
Is Downloading from Music Downloaders Legal or Illegal?
It’s not surprising that many users of music downloaders question whether what they’re doing is legal or not. Unfortunately, there isn’t a straight yes or no answer – it usually depends on what exactly the user is downloading. In most cases, however, downloading music through a music downloader is illegal.
If you use a music downloader to download a copyrighted song, you’ll be infringing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. (DMCA) When you infringe this act, you are liable to the following:
- Charges of up to $150,000 per file downloaded
- Jail sentence of up to five years
- The copyright holder you infringed could also seek to file their own lawsuit against you
Not all music is copyrighted. However – many artists without labels use YouTube and Soundcloud to share their music online and get people to hear their name. If you were to download a song from an artist that hasn’t quite made it yet, chances are their music isn’t copyrighted. And they’ll have no grounds to file a complaint or a lawsuit.
If you’d like to avoid infringing copyright laws, you should seek to find out the status of a song’s copyright before downloading it. In most cases, the song you’d like to download may be copyrighted, but this isn’t always the case.
Downloading and Sharing Music – What Makes it Illegal?
So what exactly makes downloading music illegal? And what about circumstances where downloading music isn’t illegal?
There are two principal components to determine whether you are liable to fees and charges from copyright infringement. We’ll talk about those in depth below.
The first component is the copyright. If a song you attempt to download is not copyrighted, you won’t need to be concerned about DMC fines and fees. You’ll be safe from lawsuits and in this case, it would be legal to download the music.
If a song is copyrighted, most of which are, you will be liable. This doesn’t mean you will be fined and arrested, but the copyright holders have full rights to go down that avenue if they chose to.
What if You Purchase Music Online?
The second component is the rights you get when using certain services or purchasing music online. For example, if you purchase a CD, you may be able to download the songs on that CD into mp3 files on your PC for your own personal use. This is because when purchasing the CD you are given the rights to do so.
You’re not, however, given the rights to share that music with another person. You’ll be infringing copyright laws as soon as you send those mp3 files to another person. And even, as soon as you burn a CD to hand to somebody you know.
What if You Have Subscription to Music Streaming Services?
Some online websites have a different set of rights given to their users. For example, if you pay for a subscription to Spotify, Google Play, Tidal, Apple Music or any other online music streaming service, you have the rights to listen to and stream the music on that platform.
These platforms also give you the right to download any music through the download feature. However, if you take those songs from that platform and then distribute them to another person, you’ll be infringing copyright laws.
So, in the case of music downloaders: There are only two cases where downloading music through them is legal.
- The first instance is if you are downloading a song without copyright.
- The second case is if you’re downloading a song that has copyright but the truthful owner of the song has given explicit permission to allow that download to happen.
In 90% of cases, you’ll most likely be downloading a copyrighted song. And it’s extremely rare that the copyright holder has given you explicit rights to download a song online.
So, in summary – Downloading music from music downloaders is, in most cases, illegal.
Will I Be Sued or Arrested for Downloading Music Illegally?
At this point you may be wondering that if downloading music through music downloaders is illegal, why haven’t you been sued or arrested yet? Or why hasn’t your friend that has been using such services for years not been sued yet?
You should understand that downloading music illegally or breaching any copyright terms within the music industry does immediately give any copyright holder the full right to seek legal action against you. If a copyright holder were to follow through with it, they could have fined you and potentially given jail time.
The music industry is currently doing all it can to fight illegal music downloaders. So there’s always the chance that they can target you if you download any music illegally.
However, the likelihood of music companies targeting downloaders on an individual basis is very unlikely. It would cost a lot of money and working hours to file complaints and open up lawsuits to individual downloaders.
Instead, the music industry has another focus, and we’ll be talking about that below.
Will the Music Downloaders be Sued or Shut Down?
It would be impossible for the music industry and copyright holders within the music industry to hunt down all owners of the illegally downloaded music. But illegal music does affect record sales and revenue.
For this reason, the music industry is currently fighting to take down music downloaders through the law. But even though such services facilitate the ability to download illegal music, getting a music downloader shutdown is not proving easy.
Unlike with pirates who upload music illegally, music downloaders aren’t uploading any music. They are only giving users the tools to download audio from Soundcloud and YouTube. On the whole, downloading audio from Soundcloud and YouTube isn’t illegal. But using the service to download copyrighted music is illegal. So there’s reason to believe these websites are in a bit of a legal gray area.
The stance the music industry is currently taking is that music downloader websites do not facilitate any technology to stop users from downloading pirated material. For this reason, the music industry may have enough leverage to insist on taking offline the music download sites that are currently in court.
Why Music Downloaders Still Exist?
If the lawsuits go well, you may see some music downloader websites shutting down over the next few years. The interesting part is that there are dozens of attractive alternatives online. And they are likely to remain online for a long time unless the music industry can work to get some cease and desist for the websites in question.
Getting such a cease and desist would be tough as of today. Music downloaders that have fought in court against the music industry have argued that they haven’t provided users with illegal music. But instead, have provided users with a tool to download audio online. In their argument, they are directing the blame to the users of their service that are using it to download copyrighted songs.
It’s going to be a long, lengthy process before anything major happens, and that’s if it happens at all.
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That wraps up our look into illegal music downloads and using online music downloaders. On the surface, it’s clear that users are primarily using these websites to download copyrighted music. But the music industry is still struggling in getting these sites shut down.
It’ll be a while before we see any progress on this matter, but in the meantime, it should be understood that while it’s very unlikely you’ll get in trouble for illegally downloading music, you could be targeted. Downloading music illegally still, puts you at risk of receiving hefty fines and massive jail time.
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