For context sake, I'm based in the UK - so (primarily) I'm interested in relevant British law, but assuming users of my new software are going to be global - what laws must I pay particular attention to when offering an 'upload and play' music feature?

To clarify, one user may upload their favourite song, and all other users can stream that from the uploaded file.

In case it matters, I'm not allowing a user to upload a song - and then advertising that song by artist and title to other users (similar to p2p). Instead, I'm offering users a chance to publish a song against their page. Very similar to how MySpace done it all those years back.

  • "I'm not allowing a user to upload a song...Instead, I'm offering users a chance to publish a song against their page..." Question: Where exactly is the mp3 file stored? On your server? On a third-party server? Feb 19 '16 at 20:09
  • You've quoted out of context by missing the most important part out, I'm not allowing a user to upload a song - AND THEN ADVERTISING THAT SONG. On my server. The user can upload a song, and it will reside on my server. But my app knows no detail of the song uploaded. Could be anything. And my app will play it for all visitors to their page. Again, like myspace did. Feb 19 '16 at 20:37

Very similar to how MySpace done it all those years back....

MySpace did it differently back then because they got sued for copyright violations for the music their users were uploading and streaming. https://www.google.com/search?q=myspace+lawsuit+music

These days, you can upload music to MySpace, but they have licenses and agreements with music publishers, and are clear to their users what can be legally uploaded: https://help.myspace.com/hc/en-us/articles/202591770-Music-Upload-Requirements

And remember.... By uploading any content to Myspace, you hereby certify that you own the copyright in or have all the necessary rights related to such content to upload it. Don't step on someone else's hard work.

And Myspace is are clear on how they handle copyright violations: https://help.myspace.com/hc/en-us/articles/202055394-Copyright-FAQs

Myspace will respond to allegations of copyright violations in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”). The DMCA provides a process for a copyright owner to give notification to an online service provider concerning alleged copyright infringement.

Now, with your question: you are allowing users to both upload music and stream it.

Streaming is legal in the UK; see an older question here on LSE Is Streaming Copyrighted Content Illegal in the UK

But the hosting - storing the actual files - of copyrighted material is not legal.

But my app knows no detail of the song uploaded. Could be anything....

This doesn't matter; the files are on your server.

You run the risk of legal action being taken against you for the actual .mp3 file of copyrighted music on your server. You are the owner of the webserver, and thus control the files on it, along with your knowledge of building an App that allows users to upload the files. Even if you claim to know nothing about what users upload with the App you built, the music files are on your server.

What happens also depends on where the server with the music files is located, i.e. in the UK (action against you legally possible), or elsewhere (legal action against depends on the country and their laws and agreements with other countries).

If your server is in a third-party country and can't be taken down, but you are a UK resident, the music companies can still go after you in other respects, as the paying owner of the server, the owner of the domain registration, even possibly as the creator of the App itself.

  • Brilliant, couldn't have asked for a more comprehensive response. Much appreciated. Feb 19 '16 at 20:56
  • Thanks, it was interesting to look into all that; I didn't realize myself that MySpace had to change their policies back then. Feb 19 '16 at 21:36
  • does the UK not have safe harbor laws to protect host?
    – dangel
    May 14 '16 at 1:26

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