Purchase of digital content in online shops

Licenses to use instead of CD, DVD or book

If you buy music, movie files or an eBook, copyrighted content in general, one acquires a license from the copyright owner. The scope of this license determines what you can do with the content. In general, the license is limited to private, non-commercial use for entertainment.

The license terms are an essential part of the description of goods and therefore they must be available for the consumer before the purchase is completed. They are in many cases otherwise available on the provider's website or are connected as part of the downloaded files.

May I copy the file?

Regardless of all restrictions on the license you may make copies of the files for private use. Private copying is permitted without the consent of the copyright holder. For personal use only, the buyer may burn the purchased music files to a CD, copy it to his hard drive or MP3 player.

Some files, however, are encoded with copy protection. The circumvention of such protection is not permitted under current law, even if you are only about to make a private copy.

Private copies should not be made public

The copy on the hard drive should not be offered for download via Internet sharing. A private copy must not be made available to the public.

The offering of music sharing would only be allowed if they had gotten the rights holder the right to distribute – this is most likely not the case.

For the same reason one should not use purchased music as background music for his website or for a self-created YouTube video without the necessary rights.

No copy for your girlfriend

If the license does not allow, you may not copy music files for a friend. Without the consent of the copyright holder, neither the production of a digital copy or a copy on music cassette are allowed.

Give away or sell music files is practically forbidden

If the license terms of a music file does not expressly permit the sale or give away (which is not the case), you should not do this.

Online music is (currently) legally treated differently than music on a CD. If you buy a CD, then the rights holder loses the ability to prohibit the disclosure of a CD (within the EU or the EEA).

Lawyers say: "he distribution right is exhausted." This assumes that the work will be sold on a physical support. Regarding music on CDs that is the case, one can therefore resell used CDs.

Downloading of music files

There is no "exhaustion of the distribution right", so that the owners may prohibit the sharing of music files.

Damage or loss of MP3 files

The purchased MP3 files are a commodity that is not treated any differently in this context as a commodity that you buy in the supermarket. If the goods are damaged by accident, negligence, or even your intention or lost, then that's your bad luck.

Exclusion of the right of withdrawal when downloading purchases is possible

Buy a book from an online store, so you as a consumer have a statutory right of withdrawal from this contract.

If you buy software only, you also have the right of withdrawl within 14 days, but the seller hast the possibility to exclude this right. Therefore he has to inform you before you end the buying process and you have to active take note of it (this happens normally by ticking a box). If the seller doesn’t inform you, you have the right of withdrawl.

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