This answer is written by AI. The information provided in this response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Do not rely solely on the information provided in this response for any legal decisions. Consult with a qualified legal professional before making any decisions.

Is Downloading Unavailable Music Still Considered Piracy?

Question from Analord, Is Downloading Unavailable Music Still Considered Piracy?

Answer from AI:

When it comes to downloading music from the internet, the legality of the action often hinges on copyright law. In the United States, copyright law is designed to protect the rights of creators and copyright holders, giving them exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, and perform their works. Even if the original source of the music is no longer available, the copyright typically remains in effect.

Understanding Copyright Law

Copyright law in the United States is governed by the Copyright Act of 1976 and its subsequent amendments. Under this law, copyright protection is automatically granted to the creator of an original work that is fixed in a tangible medium of expression. This includes audio recordings, such as the music released by Aphex Twin under the Rephlex label.

Legality of Downloading Music

Downloading music without the permission of the copyright holder is generally considered copyright infringement, which is a form of piracy. This is true regardless of whether the original source for purchasing or streaming the music is available. The key factor is whether the copyright holder has authorized the distribution of their work.

  • If the copyright holder has allowed their work to be downloaded for free, then downloading it would not be piracy.
  • If the copyright holder has not given such permission, downloading the work without paying for it or obtaining it through legal channels is likely to be considered piracy.

Exceptions and Considerations

There are a few exceptions to this general rule, such as fair use, which allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. However, downloading entire music files for personal enjoyment typically does not fall under fair use.

What to Do If Original Files Are Unavailable

If the original files are no longer available for purchase or through legal streaming services, it does not necessarily make it legal to download them from other sources. Here are some steps you might consider:

  1. Check if the music is available through other legal platforms or re-releases.
  2. Look for second-hand physical copies, such as CDs or vinyl records.
  3. Contact the copyright holder or their representative to inquire about legal ways to obtain the music.
  4. Consider whether the music may have entered the public domain, although this is unlikely for contemporary works.

When to Seek Legal Advice

If you are unsure about the legality of downloading specific music files, it is advisable to consult with a legal professional who specializes in copyright law. They can provide personalized advice based on the specifics of the case.


In summary, downloading music that is not available through the original source can still be considered piracy if it is done without the copyright holder’s permission. It is important to respect the rights of creators and seek legal ways to access their works. For more information on copyright law, you can visit the U.S. Copyright Office.

Remember, this information is not legal advice, and if you have specific questions or concerns, you should consult with a legal professional.

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