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Use of cell phones (and similar recording devices) at a concert is more than just annoying – it’s against the law. Civil and criminal charges are possible results if the law is enforced.
Many 21st century concerts are being seen through the screen of a smart phone in an attempt to capture the moment. However, in their attempt to capture the moment, not only are concert goers missing the full experience of the live music, but they are breaking the law.
“Federal law, namely 17 U.S.C. § 1101 imposes civil penalties for the unauthorized recording of live performances or the transmission or distribution of such. This is true even if the bootlegging is not done for commercial gain. The statute provides that anyone who engages in these prohibited acts is potentially liable for money damages. A court may also impound applicable recordings.
“Similarly, 18 U.S.C. Section 2319(a), which makes bootlegging a criminal offense if the perpetrator — without the consent of the applicable artist — knowingly records a live musical performance or distributes such a recording, and does so for commercial gain.”
Though such laws exist, they are rarely enforced, leaving some musicians to take matters into their own hands. Among the artists that have prevented audience members from recording their performances are Prince, Childish Gambino, Guns ‘N Roses, Alicia Keys, and The Lumineers. Some of the aforementioned artists have even gone as far as requiring guests to lock their mobile devices in pouches throughout the duration of the concert.
Apple has recently patented a process that would allow concert guests to attend the event with mobile devices in hand, but temporarily disable the iPhone’s camera. This would prevent audience members from illegally recording the performance and distributing said material. In such a case, changes in technology may bring about stricter adherence to the copyright law that has otherwise faced many obstacles due to technological advances.