So what exactly are the laws about uploading songs?

I’m a bit confused on the topic: when is it legal to upload music to the internet?

I have a lot of pretty songs that I want to link to, but nobody’s put them up on YouTube so far. Is there any legal way I could share the music- maybe putting on a special site with no downloads?

If the music is out of copyright, or if you own the cppyright to the music, you can upload as much of it as you want. If the music in question is under copyright, and you don’t own the copyright, the basic answer is: never.

And i’m not sure what you mean by “a special site with no downloads.” Once you make copyrighted works available on the internet, you are violating the law.

Especially since if it is available for download is irrelevant - anything that comes out of someone’s speakers can be converted into an mp3 by anyone with half a mind to want to do so

IIRC, if you’re found liable for copyright infringement, the damages can be severe ($750 and up per copyrighted work). You can still be found liable if you gave the work away for free, and the copyright holder does not need to prove that the infringement caused actual (financial) harm.

I’m not your lawyer and this isn’t legal advice.

Not quite. If you the music is under copyright, and you don’t own the copyright, the basic answer is actually, “Only with permission of the copyright holder.” Such permission is routinely granted by some artists, usually under permissive licences such as the Creative Commons ones.

Well, sure, but i was assuming that the OP wouldn’t have been asking the question if he had been granted explicit permission by the copyright holder.

The OP might not even be aware that he has permission, since he may have never bothered to read the licence that came with the music, or perhaps never obtained a copy of the licence through the distribution channel. There’s a great deal of Free (as in free to redistribute) music out there, some of it by fairly established artists. If he’s got anything by, say, Jonathan Coulton in his collection, chances are he’s got permission to upload it to his website or most anywhere else, provided the artist is properly credited.

So… I guess that’s a no, then.

So how do all those YouTube members get away with it?

In most cases they get away with it simply because the copyright owners aren’t aware of the infringement. If and when they do, the video containing the unauthorized music will be muted or removed entirely. (This happens fairly often.) The uploader may also be subject to a lawsuit, though I don’t know if this has actually happened to any YouTube users.

Odds are you don’t have any music that is of expired copyright. Even if the copyright on the song was expired (70 years after author’s deaths), the recording/performance is still protected. So you’re limited to recordings of yourself singing or playing “mary had a little lamb” or “Twinkle Twinkle little star”

Unless you’re working for a band/music, and it’s your job to do so, you probably shouldn’t be worrying about how to upload music that isn’t your own. In an ideal world you’d give people the name of a song and the artist and they would legally obtain a copy (purchase) or preview at the record store.

One reason is that the volume of YouTube members is so large that it’s difficult for the copyright holders to police what is being uploaded. Some copyright holders might tolerate use of their songs on YouTube because it’s free publicity (think of the viral video of the dancing bridal party).

See Copyright in the Age of YouTube

It should be noted, though, that “Happy Birthday” is out of bounds.

The reason I want to link to them is that they probably can’t get those songs at the local music store. Not unless they live in a heavily Jewish area, anyway.

For better or worse, copyright law generally doesn’t allow copies to me distributed under a “Can’t buy them at the local music store” exception.

Did you do an eyeroll while you were typing that? :slight_smile: I think Malleus understands what’s permitted under the law regarding uploading songs. I don’t think she was fishing around for an exception.