Definition Edit

In Section 1001 of the U.S. Copyright Law, digital musical recording is defined as

a material object
(i) in which are fixed, in a digital recording format, only sounds, and material, statements, or instructions incidental to those fixed sounds, if any, and
(ii) from which the sounds and material can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.
(B) A digital musical recording does not include a material object
(i) in which the fixed sounds consist entirely of spoken word recordings, or
(ii) in which one or more computer programs are fixed, except that a digital musical recording may contain statements or instructions constituting the fixed sounds and incidental material, and statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in order to bring about the perception, reproduction, or communication of the fixed sounds and incidental material.[1]

Discussion Edit

“[A] hard drive is a material object in which one or more programs are fixed; thus, a hard drive is excluded from the definition of digital musical recordings.” [2]

“The plain language of the exemption at issue does not exclude the copying of programs from coverage by the Act, but instead, excludes copying from various types of material objects. Those objects include hard drives, which indirectly achieve the desired result of excluding copying of programs. But by its plain language, the exemption is not limited to the copying of programs, and instead extends to any copying from a computer hard disk.[3]

“The legislative history thus expressly recognizes that computers (and other devices) have recording functions capable of recording digital musical recordings, and thus implicate the home taping and piracy concerns to which the Act is responsive. Nonetheless, the legislative history is consistent with the Act’s plain language — computers are not digital audio recording devices.”[4]


  1. 17 U.S.C. §1001(5).
  2. Recording Indus. Ass’n of America v. Diamond Multimedia Sys., Inc., 180 F.3d 1072, 1076 (9th Cir. 1999)(full-text).
  3. Id. at 1978 (citations omitted).
  4. Id. (emphasis in original).
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