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Reducing Unauthorized Digital Downloading of Music by Obtaining Voluntary Compliance with Copyright Law Through the Removal of Corporate Power in the Recording Industry Open Access

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Social norms are the predominant influence on one's behavior and can support or supplant a law. The social norm of digital music file-sharing has effectively prevailed over copyright law, market alternatives, and architectural barriers. An explanation, and possibly an answer, to the issue can be found using a psychological jurisprudence approach to social norms, i.e., a voluntary compliance theory of behavior control. Generally, the standard theory of deterring unwanted behavior through fear of punishment has little actual effect on people's behavior. The two key elements to obtaining voluntary compliance with a law are morality and legitimacy. First, people must perceive the law as consistent with their sense of morality. Second, the public must perceive the making of the law as fair and that the law is fairly enforced by a trusted authority.The main perceived justification for copyright law is to reward artists, i.e., musicians, for their creative works. But, the public perceives the recording industry as the only beneficiary of recorded music purchases. Thus, the current legal structure fails to meet its justification and, in turn, does not comport with people's morals. For similar reasons, people do not perceive the current legal structure as legitimate. The current copyright structure was largely created under massive lobbying pressure from the recording industry for its own benefit. Moreover, the current enforcing authority for the majority of copyright protected sound recordings is the corporate recording industry. People distrust the recording industry due to the knowledge of artist mistreatment and overpriced record albums. Additionally, the highly publicized lawsuits against individual file-sharers appeared unfair to many people, especially considering the previous attempts by the recording industry to limit the transferability of digital music.A possible solution to this non-compliance with copyright law, therefore, could be to return copyright ownership to musicians. This would introduce an external motivating factor that appeals to the morals of digital music file-sharers. At the same time, enforcement of sound recording copyrights by musicians, rather than the large corporate music industry, would legitimate the enforcing authority in the view of file-sharers. Amending the laws to achieve these results could be done by one, or a combination, of the following: (1) return copyright ownership to recording artists by making the copyright in a sound recording non-transferable or reducing the time frame for which an author may terminate a grant, license, or transfer of a copyright protected work; and (2) codify a time and album limit on recording company contracts with recording artists.

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