Recording association offers downloading guide

The Recording Industry Association of America has stepped up its fight against Internet piracy by going after those who make "substantial quantities" available online through music-swapping sites such as Kazaa and LimeWire, rolling out hundreds of lawsuits and threats of criminal prosecution.

Here's an association guide to what is legal in downloading and copying music:

Legal: Downloading a song from an online store such as iTunes or BuyMusic on a pay-per-track basis, or from a subscription service such as Pressplay or Rhapsody.

Illegal: Downloading a song from someone else's computer through a network like Kazaa or iMesh.

Legal: Downloading a song from a copyright holder's Web site (like a band's official site run by its record company).

Illegal: Downloading a song from a site that is not a copyright holder (like a fan site not sanctioned by the band or its record company).

Legal: Buying a CD and burning a copy for your own personal use.

Illegal: Buying a CD and burning a copy for your friend's personal use.

Legal: Storing songs from CDs you bought on your computer.

Illegal: Storing songs from CDs bought on your computer and making them available for others to download.

Legal: Using software to remix your favorite song for your own personal use.

Illegal: Using software to remix your favorite song and making it available for others to download.

Legal: Making a mix tape or mix CD for yourself.

Illegal: Making a mix tape or mix CD for a friend.

Association officials say that some of these activities are more likely to get you in trouble than others. However, recent changes in their strategy have moved past a previously unspoken guideline of whether you are making money from these activities. Now, even if some of these activities are done for your own personal enjoyment, you may face a lawsuit.

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