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Chapter 7. The Not-So-Fine-Print: Legal Bits and Pieces

Chapter 7. The Not-So-Fine-Print: Legal Bits and Pieces

The legal side of the MP3 world can be either utterly simple or unbelievably complex, depending on how you approach and use the technology and how thoroughly you'd like to understand the inner machinations of the U.S. legal system (which is increasingly tied into the legal systems of other countries, thanks to the fact that "bits don't stop at the border"). Balancing the need to protect consumer rights with the rights of artists and the recording industry has opened up a Pandora's box of conflicting interests that may never be fully resolved. In this chapter we'll take a look at some of the common myths surrounding the transfer of digital audio files (The Rules of Engagement) and then examine some of the finer points of copyright law (The Players), along with several initiatives, technologies, and specifications that have come into play, including the Audio Home Recording Act, the Secure Digital Music Initiative, the No Electronic Theft Act, the Serial Copy Management System, the MP3 patent, and more.

This chapter represents our best attempt to summarize and put into plain language the myriad legal aspects surrounding the MP3 scene. As we are not lawyers, and because the scenery changes on a near-weekly basis, this chapter does not represent the final word. If you need to make critical legal decisions regarding MP3 usage, consult with an attorney specializing in copyright and digital issues.



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