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I am planning to make a Local-Area-Network personal music server program.

The idea is that the program lets you host your music so you can stream it from any of your devices on your local network (though no music is distributed with the program itself). It may also do some analysis on the music, which means it will need to operate on the music files themselves in some cases (stuff like genre classification).

  • Can I, the developer of the program, be held responsible if an end user uses the software on copyright infringing material?
  • Are home music servers legal in general?
  • What if the user makes the server public? (publicly hosts it, port forwarding, etc)
  • What other legal considerations should I make?

NB: an example of a similar project is MPD.


Notes:

  • I am in the UK and so am interested in UK law specifically.
  • the program is only for personal use
  • the program is not monetised (am planning to make it open source)
  • I am not distributing music with the software
  • the project is for school, so fair use/similar clauses may apply

Any help would be appreciated!

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    "the project is for school, so fair use/similar clauses may apply" - Fair use does not matter unless you are copying actual code from someone else, and want to claim fair use as a defense to that action. The fact that the program itself could be used to infringe someone else's copyright is a separate question. – Brandin Feb 18 at 6:47
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Standard Caveat: not I'm not a lawyer.

Is making a home music server legal?

Yes, of course. They are plenty of perfectly legal home music servers around and I don't see why yours would be any different.

  • You are just distributing content around the house. Your software has no part in the acquisition of the music (legal or not)
  • Your software doesn't "encourage" copyright violations, it has no way of knowing if content is "legal" or not
  • It may be against some of the more aggressive Terms and Conditions of some of the record labels, especially of you can play the same song on multiple players in different instances (not synchronized) simultaneously. However, for almost all other songs this is perfectly legal, and it's not your job to enforce this. These T&Cs tend to be a bit bizarre and are unlikely to hold up in court anyway. Hence the labels don't push them.
  • It's more and more moot these days: local libraries are quickly disappearing and are being replaced with streaming services.
  • Connecting to a streaming service and redistributing a stream, is a different can of worms, I'd recommend to stay away from this.
  • Thanks for your insight. Just to make it clear, you are saying that if infringing content is used with the program, the user would be liable and not me, right? This was what I was confused about the most. (Similarly if the user were to make the server public and thus distribute copyrighted material) – Pixel0a Feb 18 at 17:28

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