Albums may be downloaded online with the explicit consent of the artist. Federal law provides severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorized reproduction, distribution, rental or digital transmission of copyrighted sound recordings, according to Title 17, United States Code, Sections 501 and 506.
A long series of court rulings has made it very clear that uploading and downloading copyrighted music without permission on P2P networks constitutes infringement and could be a crime, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. Sites where consumers can legally purchase music typically require registration and a credit card, but they allow users to download single songs or entire albums. Two popular sites are iTunes and Amazon.