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California Penal Code Section 653h

653h. (a) Every person is guilty of a public offense punishable as provided in subdivisions (b) and (c), who:

(1) Knowingly and willfully transfers or causes to be transferred any sounds that have been recorded on a phonograph record, disc, wire, tape, film or other article on which sounds are recorded, with intent to sell or cause to be sold, or to use or cause to be used for commercial advantage or private financial gain through public performance, the article on which the sounds are so transferred, without the consent of the owner.

(2) Transports for monetary or like consideration within this state or causes to be transported within this state any such article with the knowledge that the sounds thereon have been so transferred without the consent of the owner.

(b) Any person who has been convicted of a violation of subdivision (a), shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year, by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for two, three, or five years, or by a fine not to exceed five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment, if the offense involves the transfer or transportation, or conduct causing that transfer or transportation, of not less than 1,000 of the articles described in subdivision (a).

(c) Any person who has been convicted of any other violation of subdivision (a) not described in subdivision (b), shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year, or by a fine of not more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment. A second or subsequent conviction under subdivision (a) not described in subdivision (b) shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 or by a fine not to exceed two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.

(d) Every person who offers for sale or resale, or sells or resells, or causes the sale or resale, or rents, or possesses for these purposes, any article described in subdivision (a) with knowledge that the sounds thereon have been so transferred without the consent of the owner is guilty of a public offense.

(1) A violation of subdivision (d) involving not less than 100 of those articles shall be punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year or by a fine not to exceed twenty thousand dollars ($20,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment. A second or subsequent conviction for the conduct described in this paragraph shall be punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year or pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170, or by a fine not to exceed fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.

(2) A person who has been convicted of any violation of this subdivision not described in paragraph (1) shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed six months or by a fine not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment. A second conviction for the conduct described in this paragraph shall be punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year or by a fine not to exceed twenty thousand dollars ($20,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment. A third or subsequent conviction for the conduct described in this paragraph shall be punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year or pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170, or by a fine not to exceed fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.

(e) As used in this section, person means any individual, partnership, partnership s member or employee, corporation, limited liability company, association or corporation or association employee, officer or director; owner means the person who owns the original master recording embodied in the master phonograph record, master disc, master tape, master film or other article used for reproducing recorded sounds on phonograph records, discs, tapes, films or other articles on which sound is or can be recorded, and from which the transferred recorded sounds are directly or indirectly derived; and master recording means the original fixation of sounds upon a recording from which copies can be made.

(f) This section shall neither enlarge nor diminish the right of parties in private litigation.

(g) This section does not apply to any person engaged in radio or television broadcasting who transfers, or causes to be transferred, any such sounds (other than from the sound track of a motion picture) intended for, or in connection with, broadcast transmission or related uses, or for archival purposes.

(h) This section does not apply to any not-for-profit educational institution or any federal or state governmental entity, if the institution or entity has as a primary purpose the advancement of the public s knowledge and the dissemination of information regarding America s musical cultural heritage, provided that this purpose is clearly set forth in the institution s or entity s charter, bylaws, certificate of incorporation, or similar document, and the institution or entity has, prior to the transfer, made a good faith effort to identify and locate the owner or owners of the sound recordings to be transferred and, provided that the owner or owners could not be and have not been located. Nothing in this section shall be construed to relieve an institution or entity of its contractual or other obligation to compensate the owners of sound recordings to be transferred. In order to continue the exemption permitted by this subdivision, the institution or entity shall make continuing efforts to locate such owners and shall make an annual public notice of the fact of the transfers in newspapers of general circulation serving the jurisdictions where the owners were incorporated or doing business at the time of initial affixations. The institution or entity shall keep on file a record of the efforts made to locate such owners for inspection by appropriate governmental agencies.

(i) This section applies only to those articles that were initially mastered prior to February 15, 1972.

(Amended by Stats. 2011, Ch. 15, Sec. 433. Effective April 4, 2011. Operative October 1, 2011, by Sec. 636 of Ch. 15, as amended by Stats. 2011, Ch. 39, Sec. 68.)

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Last modified: September 9, 2016