Legalities of Streaming Music Online

legality of streaming music online
Streaming music on the Internet is not as restrictive as you may think.

Online music streaming music has sparked significant Internet law questions. Spotify, Grooveshark and are currently the hot online music services available in the United States. And unlike their ancestors (think Napster), this generation of Internet song service platforms is trying to operate on the right side of the law. Some have proved more successful than others.


Legal Difference Between Interactive And Active Online Music Sharing Services

According to U.S. law, online music streaming services and Web radio stations fall into two categories, “interactive” and “non-interactive.” The distinction:

If a person can create their own playlists and access songs whenever, then the service is “interactive.” If individual users have limited control over which songs are played on a given stream, then the service is “non-interactive.”

Since and allow users to create personalized playlists, they’re interactive;’s “listening rooms,” however, are deemed non-interactive since each user, in a given room, doesn’t have control over the playlist.

Artists Sued Grooveshark, A Lot

Artists frequently sue for copyright infringement. In fact, the company is currently embroiled in an intellectual property lawsuit. While the details of each case varied, in its own defense, Grooveshark has always maintained adherence to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Grooveshark’s Achilles’ heel is its inability to effectively monitor members’ files and successfully sniff out copyright violators. And while they do send out cease-and-desist notices to violators, the process is cumbersome and things often fall through the cracks, leaving Grooveshark vulnerable to lawsuits.

Legality of Sharing Music Online: SoundExchange Statutory Licensing For Non-interactive Music Sharing Websites’s model is perhaps the safest of the current popular music streaming websites. Since users can really only choose the genre of music and not request specific on demand, the service is considered non-interactive. As such, doesn’t have to work out royalty agreements directly with labels and can simply use the “SoundExchange” method.

SoundExchange is a nonprofit entity to which non-interactive music services can pay royalties. SoundExchange then distributes said royalties to the appropriate labels and artists.

Connect With An Online Intellectual Property Lawyer

Interested in learning more about the legality of streaming music online? We can walk you through the legalities of setting up an online streaming service and make sure you remain on the right side of the law.

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