30. Legit music downloads
By Mark Alberstat
My friends have been using the sites you mentioned to download music, but
I have been uncomfortable with the peer-to-peer aspect and also the
"stealing" of copyrighted material. Are there any sites that may charge a
fee for their music but it's not peer-to-peer?
J. Bryant, Middleton
A few weeks ago, this column focused on some of the programs and pitfalls
of online file and music swapping, so-called peer-to-peer applications.
As many readers know, that kind of music sharing is illegal, and the
federal governments in both Canada and the U.S. are starting to clamp down
on this activity. That fact, however, should not curtail your enjoyment of
online music, just the free exchange of it.
There are a number of online music services from which you can download
music at a nominal cost. It is certainly more than the no-charge tunes
found on the peer-to-peer applications, but it is also 100 per cent legal,
and the chance of seeing the inside of a courtroom for downloading from
these sites is smaller than the list on the back of a Vanilla Ice Greatest
The best known of the freebie-music programs was Napster. After being
found guilty of copyright violation and shut down, this
little-program-that-could was reborn as Napster 2.0. Today, Napster.com is the home of a legitimate
music-downloading site and has even teamed up with electronics giant
Samsung to create the YP-910GS, a 20-gig USB digital audio player.
The market is full of such devices, but only this one has the endorsement
of the one-time king of music downloading. For those who have seen, and
liked, Napster's cool-cat TV commercials, the company's website has a
complete viewable inventory of these ads in various musical genres.
Napster has contracts with five major record labels and "hundreds of
independents", according to its website. This gives the company an online
catalogue of more than 500,000 tracks, covering almost all musical genres.
Another big player in the legitimate music downloading business is
Listen.com and its associated
software, Rhapsody. This company claims to
have a whopping 45,000 albums under its digital belt and artists from A+
to Zap Mama. A nice feature Rhapsody offers is free 30-second preview
clips of all of the music found in its on-demand music collection.
Both of these companies and the other big player, musicmatch.com, earn their money
from subscriptions and additional fees for creating CDs.
Subscriptions come in two basic types. The first allows you to listen to
the company's music on demand or create your own Internet radio station
for your own listening pleasure. For an additional charge, you can burn
your own CDs of certain music in the company's catalogue. Note that not
all music the companies offers for listening is available for burning.
If you are interested in joining one of these online services, shop around
to see which company has the music you want at the price you are willing
to pay and has the subscription options with which you agree.
Remember, a step back to the peer-to-peer world could get you some free
music, but it is far from legal, while these options give you a
legitimate, low-cost alternative.
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Originally published 14 March 2004