UK: A Copyright Strategy for your Business: Important Lessons from the Music Industry

Last Updated: 28 April 2004
Article by Hana Ferraris

Internet piracy is a major threat to all businesses whose success depends on controlling copyright works. Hana Ferraris outlines mistakes made by the music industry in dealing with Internet theft and shows how you can learn from them to prevent your own works being copied.

The impact of music piracy.

In 1999, the European Commission estimated that piracy accounted for between 5% and 7% of world trade. The Commission claims that the cultural sector alone (including the music and audiovisual industries) loses over € 4.5 billion each year because of counterfeiting and piracy. Similarly, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) blames piracy for a 31% drop in music sales over the last two years.

Why is music piracy so popular?

Many web users consider it entirely acceptable to download music from file sharing online services - some have even developed a cult in praise of those who make piracy easier1. A similar situation exists in the computer software field where a recent survey2 found that only 14% of respondents thought illegally copying a software program was a serious crime.

Unfortunately, the music industry made the mistake of immediately viewing the Internet as a threat rather than embracing it as an integral part of our lives and identifying the potentially profitable opportunities it offered. Up until recently, there were very few websites offering legal music downloads for a reasonable price. Those that did exist carried only a limited selection of music.

As copying and downloading technology has improved, the lure of being able to get hold of high quality music cheaply or for free has increased. The singles market is a case in point – only a limited number of songs are made available as singles because record companies prefer to concentrate on album sales. Therefore the choice for consumers who want their favorite song has been to either buy the whole album for approximately £9 to £13 or to look for an easily downloadable, high quality copy of their favorite track (for free).

There is also an indication that the tactics initially adopted by the music industry to enforce its copyright actually ended up encouraging piracy. Copyright enforcement was usually targeted at high-value buyers such as businesses who could be easily recognised and monitored. However, according to a recent study3, this approach increased piracy by giving the copyright owner a smaller captive market and an incentive to charge even higher prices. The result is that those with less disposable income were priced out and thus encouraged to commit piracy.

The study suggests that the interests of the copyright holder and those of the consumers do not necessarily have to be in conflict. A successful enforcement strategy should be based on the principle that all consumers face the same risk of action being taken against them if they infringe copyright. Such broad-based enforcement not only reduces piracy, but also encourages the copyright holder to lower prices to accommodate a broader market. Hence both copyright holder and consumer benefit.

An example of such practice is the RIAA’s recent effort in filing an enormous number of copyright infringement lawsuits in the US. Together with the increased availability and affordability of legally downloadable music, these enforcement tactics actually resulted in a considerable reduction of Internet music piracy.

Spotting the potential of the Internet challenges

Legal online music services in the US like OD2, iTunes, Napster or Rapsody are expecting a healthy profit from their online sales. OD2 (the biggest European online music supplier) has reported that its sales are rising at the rate of 25% per month. There are no manufacturing costs involved, no CDs, no packaging or advertising material and the current price in Europe is just 99p a track.

The boom of the online music industry after the revival of Napster and similar sites as legal services has been compared to the craze in the late nineties. Virgin, Coca-Cola and Wall-Mart have already decided to capitalize on the ongoing trend and Starbucks are considering the same idea. This year’s music fair in Cannes showcased the massive range of other opportunities for investors in music and technology. Mobile jukeboxes and numerous other gadgets that can use downloaded music seem set to permanently revolutionize the way we listen to music.

Tips for your success

So what can individuals and businesses do to successfully and safely publish copyright works – whether in the online music industry or otherwise? Here are a few key considerations:

1. Find out whether you have a right to enforce copyright on the works you are selling.

2. Advertise your copyright if you have it by placing a prominent copyright notice where appropriate. Also, post a prominent warning against breach of copyright on your website. (It is also a good idea to explain exactly what copyright means).

3. Keep yourself up-to-date on technological changes.

Carefully and promptly consider the challenges and opportunities those changes could bring to your business.

4. Seek legal advice on the best enforcement policy for your particular business. If your business sells works by other people, you will need to ensure they are protected as well.

5. Consider whether membership of/contact with anti-piracy associations like Alliance Against Counterfeiting & Piracy, FACT, Counterfeiting and Piracy (CAP) Forum or the Patent Office’s Enforcement Group can assist you in protecting and enforcing your rights.

List of references:

Proposal for a Directive 2003/004 (COD) on measures and procedures to ensure the enforcement of intellectual property rights, p.10,

Survey conducted by Yankelovich Partners for the Business Software Alliance (BSA) as cited in "Take a Byte out of Software" published by the BSA at

Harbugh, R, Khemka, R, Does copyright enforcement encourage piracy?, Claremont Colleges, working papers in economics, August 2001


1. Referring to Jon Lech Johansen, also known as ‘DVD Jon’ who broke the encryption code for DVDs and developed the programme which enables users to circumvent anti-piracy software for Apple iTunes site.

2. Survey conducted by Yankelovich Partners for the Business Software Alliance (BSA) as cited in "Take a Byte out of Software" published by the BSA at

3. Harbugh, R, Khemka, R, Does copyright enforcement encourage piracy?, Claremont Colleges, working papers in economics, August 2001

© Pictons 2004

Pictons Solicitors is regulated by the Law Society. The information in this article is correct at the time of publication in April 2004. Every care is taken in the preparation of this article. However, no responsibility can be accepted to any person who acts on the basis of information contained in it. You are recommended to obtain specific advice in respect of individual cases.


To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.