University of Vermont

Information Technology

Are MP3s illegal?

  • Some MP3s can be legally obtained through online subscription services such as RHAPSODY (see the FAQ on the following pages) or from sites, like iTunes, that are officially permitted by the copyright holders to offer certain MP3 downloads. Some are copyright free. Most MP3s available for "free" don't fall into either category.

  • MP3 files are completely legal, but it's illegal to make or distribute MP3s of music recordings that you don't already own, or which you haven't obtained permission to reproduce from the copyright owner.

  • In almost all cases, sharing MP3s over the campus network is also illegal.

  • United States copyright law allows you to create MP3s only for your personal use and only of songs to which you already have rights. You can make MP3s only of songs for which you already own the CD or tape. And personal use means for you alone - you can't make copies and give or sell them to other people.

  • Everything said here about MP3 files applies equally to music, pictures and videos in other formats, such as AAC and AVI. 

<- What does UVM policy say about copyright infringement?    How could I get caught if I violate Copyright Law or UVM policy? ->

Last modified June 30 2010 04:30 PM

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