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Are MP3s legal?

The quick answer to this is yes. Of course as you have probably heard the way that people are using MP3s on Napster isn't. You cannot giveout copyrighted music with your computer without special permission. Many college students have found this out the hard way. Some schools have taken away their computer and such. I first got interested in this whole MP3 thing when OU mistakenly charged me with distrubuting copyrighted music. I got these nice little letters from my RA.

OU Student Violation Charge Letter

OU Student Violation Charge Letter

It turns out someone in my dorm had a warez server running that got lots of traffic. That flagged the main system admin and he did a trace on the traffic, and that led him back to the other person's computer. Unfortunately the housing office made a mistake and got the room numbers wrong, and I was charged with the violation of student code instead. After about a month I got things straightened out, but boy was I unhappy.

Most schools state their policy about computer use and what can happen if you violate that policy. OU's policy, which they were so kind to tell me of when I received my papers, is:
OU Code of Conduct

Moral of the story is that giving away MP3s via the Internet of songs that are copyrighted is illegal. Just like copying your CD to a cassette tape for your friend is. The record companies bust down because the Internet makes wide spread copying very easy. Napster now has discontinued it's little policy of giving away music for free and is now complying with the law.

Originally I never picked up much interest in MP3s before the OU incident, but now I have a CD full of them. Of course I actually own all the CDs that I have made MP3s of; so I'm not violating copyright laws. Who knows maybe someday all people will have are digital copies of the songs and not CDs.


Rodney Beede 1999-2000 | Top