The Personal Music License

By Daniel James - 8/23/01

Daniel has come up with an interesting idea. Taking a cue from GPL, Daniel has applied this to the distribution of digital music files as a way of keeping artists in the loop monetarily. He even offers a version of the license below. - Editor.

The Personal Music License. This is a license that artists can use to release digital music files on the internet without putting listeners into a legal grey area, but that reserves commercial exploitation of the music for the copyright holder.

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It amounts to decriminalisation for personal use of digital music, including non-commercial peer to peer sharing, without compromising the artists ability to earn a living.

It's in the spirit of the GNU GPL (GNU General Public License), but much shorter, easier to read and understand, and adjusted to the reality of commercial music piracy. There are many countries where CD's and tapes are duplicated on a massive scale without any artist royalties, and I wouldn't want this licence to be associated with that kind of behaviour.

The license doesn't prohibit music files being released on free CD compilations etc. - as long as the artist gives their consent. In this age of email, it shouldn't be difficult to track down the artist to ask them.

Artists and their labels naturally want to retain control over digital music, but technological control is illusory. If you sell just one copy of a CD, it can be shared by an infinite number of people within minutes of it being uploaded to the network. You can attempt to artificially limit the technology, but that won't be popular with listeners and will be circumvented by most of them.

I think the challenge is to find a way of working with the technology, rather than against it. I think labels also have to make the case to listeners that they should be supporting their favourite artists with official purchases, whether they can download the music for free or not.

Personal Music License

This music is provided for your personal use, not for resale. You may make verbatim copies of it, distribute it in any medium, and play it in public as long as you do not charge money for doing so.

You must preserve the artist name and title of the music with any copies of the music that you distribute, and make a copy of this license available with the music.

Commercial distribution, commercial public performance, sampling, remixing and derivative versions are strictly prohibited without the artist's explicit consent. The artist asserts copyright on this music, and that the music contains no unauthorised copyrighted material.

If you find any flaws in the licence from the artists point of view, please let me know - The license itself is in the public domain and not copyrighted to myself or anyone else, so everyone is welcome to use it.


We would like to welcome Daniel as a new contributer to MP3 Newswire. Daniel also writes for LinuxUser, whose site he maintains, and on his site at - editor


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