Share Responsibly

There are currently over 240 million users downloading and trading files legally on file-sharing networks. You can, for example, legally download music from over 850 bands, over 20,000 live concerts as well as have access to multiple software titles and games. File sharing is not illegal so long as you abide by all relevant copyright laws. Sharing copyrighted material without the permission to do so is illegal.

Raw Downloads does not condone piracy or breaking copyright laws. The file-sharing tools available through our members area are powerful search tools and we recommend you use your discretion when downloading music and movie files.

See Article: Federal Judge Rules: File-swapping tools are legal

Original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain intellectual compositions are protected by copyright law. If a person publicly performs, reproduces, distributes, or displays works without the consent of the copyright owner then they could be breaking the law.

Visit to learn more about U.S. copyright law. Purchase of a membership does not give you a license to download or upload copyright material. Raw Downloads urges you to respect copyright laws and share responsibly at all times.

For important information on the risks and use of P2P software, see the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website.

How can I stay legal?

Stay legal and avoid breaking the law. Quick steps to stay legal:

Make sure there are no potentially infringing files in your shared folders, meaning only files that are in the public domain, for which you have permission to share or are available under pro-sharing licenses.

Remove potentially misleading file names that might be confused with the name of an RIAA artist or song from your shared folder.

Disable the "sharing" or "uploading" features on your search program to prevent other users on the network from getting copies of files on your computer. Music companies are focused on finding people who share thousands of files on their computers with the rest of the community. If you don't share - you reduce the risk.

File sharing has been a hot topic in several countries around the world. Below are samples of court decisions from the United States of America, Canada, and the Netherlands.

USA Court Decision

Decentralized File-sharing Tools Ruled Legal - Streamcast and Grokster have won a major court decision in Los Angeles, shifting the tides of the on-line P2P legal war. Federal court Judge Stephen Wilson has dismissed much of the studios' claims in their lawsuits against them, stating that Morpheus and Grokster were not liable for copyright infringements that took place using their software.

See Article: Federal Judge Rules: File-swapping tools are legal

The ruling stated loud and clear that innovating decentralized peer-to-peer Gnutella-like software is perfectly legal, and shouldn't be deemed illegal in the courts. The courts compared the technology with the innovation of the original Sony videocasette recorder (VCR).

Fred von Lohmann of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) stated the case is far from over, but that the case sends a "strong message to the technology community that the court understands the risk to innovation" the case could represent.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) offered no comment, but are of course issuing an appeal to the ruling already. Published By Mike Darrah - April 25, 2003

Canadian Court Decision

Canada's Federal Court has ruled against a motion which would have allowed the music industry to begin suing individuals who make music available on-line. He said that downloading a song or making files available in shared directories does not constitute copyright infringement under the current Canadian law.

"Justice Konrad von Finckenstein ruled Wednesday that the Canadian Recording Industry Association did not prove there was copyright infringement by 29 so-called music uploaders. Without the names, CRIA can't begin filing lawsuits against the alleged high-volume music traders, identified only as John and Jane Does. It also reaffirms what the Copyright Board of Canada has already ruled -- downloading music in this country is not illegal. Von Finckenstein said that downloading a song or making files available in shared directories, like those on Kazaa, does not constitute copyright infringement under the current Canadian law. "No evidence was presented that the alleged infringers either distributed or authorized the reproduction of sound recordings," he wrote in his 28-page ruling. "They merely placed personal copies into their shared directories which were accessible by other computer users via a P2P service."

With all of the usual cavets about appeals, this decision makes it practically impossible to prosecute file sharers in Canada. von Finkenstein has gone well beyond the idea that downloading is legal in Canada. By expressly mentioning "merely placing personal copies into their shared directories" does not constitute distribution he has blown a huge hole in the arguments which swirled around the whole question of the legality of uploading in Canada.

Published April 1, 2004,

European Court Decision

The Supreme Court of the Netherlands has thrown out an appeal by music industry lobbyists who wanted the popular Kazaa file-sharing software to be ruled illegal.

The victory for Kazaa, which follows similar US rulings in favour of peer-to-peer (P2P) software firms Grokster and Morpheus, is a huge blow to the music industry. It has fought a long battle to close down file-sharing networks and criminalise the software that makes file swapping illegal.

The Dutch decision means that the developers of the software cannot be held responsible for how individuals use it.

Dinah Greek, 19 Dec 2003,