MP3 as a file format is probably legal, or at least tolerated, when used to encode music from your own CDs if you keep that music to yourself. It is illegal to encode MP3s and trade, sell or otherwise make them available to others unless you have the permission of the musics copyright holder. In other words, if a record company or band makes MP3 files available for download, they are yours for the taking (but not to give or sell to others). However, converting your new CD to MP3 and then offering that as a way for people to get the music without buying the actual CD is illegal.
There is a great deal of debate and discussion on these matters, some of it frequently on our own front page: »RIAA Says You Canít Copy Music To Your Computer
One member offers this commentary:
MP3 format is not legal without a license. It is a patent encumbered format which requires royalties to be payed [sic] both to create and listen to the format. People that use "Lame" to encode mp3 may have infringed on patents. If you have used a software which encodes or decodes mp3 files, and that software does not have the necessary license(s) from Thomson (»www.mp3licensing.com/) you [may] have committed a patent crime. A license is required to create, play, and one for hardware + one for software. If you only use iTunes, you're in the clear. If you're using EAC to rip/encode to mp3 with LAME, then playback with foobar, you [may have] broken the law as those 3 companies do not have a license to create nor play mp3 files. Which is why LAME is only distributed as source tar balls for the main site. Much in the way as the Xvid codec.
by snapcase$ edited by KeysCapt
last modified: 2008-01-07 07:08:43