Is File Sharing Legal?
By understanding the basics surrounding file sharing and copyright, you can easily make a judgment as to what is legal and what is illegal.
We’ll ignore the Internet for the time being – this is merely a form of communication to transmit your files – and stick with this example.
I have two MP3 files. One is the song “Living on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi, released in 1987. The other is “I See Her Walking" by Atomic Karma, written and recorded in 1998.
If I burn these two songs onto a CD and listen to it on my own personal CD player, fair use covers me– I’m neither a massive downloader of MP3s, I’m not ripping all of my CDs and making them available for anyone else– as I’m the only one listening. I purchased the Bon Jovi song for my own enjoyment, and can listen to it as I please in my home, car, and on my personal CD player.
However, if I then lend this disc to a friend, I am technically breaching the copyright of Bon Jovi.
Atomic Karma’s copyright is not breached– I wrote and performed on the track.
If you can see the distinction– two digital files, one created by you and one created by someone else– then you should see that the situation is clear. Sharing files which you have created is perfectly legal.
Sharing files created by someone else – without their permission – is illegal.