Is It Illegal to Download Free Music?


The Confusion Surrounding Music Copyright Law

Because there are so many different ways to get free music off the internet, there has become a lot of confusion and conflicting views as to what is legal and what isn’t.

“OK, so it’s illegal to burn a copy of a CD and distribute it. So are you telling me I can’t burn a mix CD and give it to a few of my friends?”

“It’s illegal to download free songs of peer-to-peer websites and servers, but can I download a song from my friend over Dropbox?”

These types of song copying and distribution leave many feeling that the laws are vague and outdated, so they just continue on downloading music illegally.

The increasingly popular technique of “YouTube to mp3” where you grab the mp3 file from a video someone posted of a song has only added to the problem.

Is that illegal too?

Let’s take a look.

The FBI Warning

You know how when you’re watching a movie on a DVD (for those of us who still do that) and on the screen comes that familiar “FBI WARNING” that tells you the material is copyrighted and it’s illegal to make unauthorized copies of said material of any kind… etc.

Well, despite what some outdated articles might say, this copyright (or internet piracy) law also applies to music.

What does that mean?

Redistribution of any kind, without the artists consent, is illegal. And if you participate by knowingly downloading music that is being distributed without the artist’s consent, you are participating in illegal activity.

This article at IBM compared using these third-party sites just to rip music from YouTube, like “using cassette tapes to record songs of the radio”.

And peer-to-peer servers as well as other websites that don’t even technically host the files on their website, are still participating in this illegal activity, and in the future, copyright companies will continue to be cracking down on this activity.

Are There Other Options?

Yes. You are not without hope. There are so many options. Honestly, with all the options out there it’s amazing how many people are still working so hard to download music for free (OK, there’s not that many). I remember those days, myself.

And I cringe at the thought of having to once again edit the properties of each individual song so that it would be neat and orderly on my iPod.

Never again.

While you do have the option of subscribing to a music streaming service as many have, if you’d like to keep listening to your music very cheaply without an internet connection and you want to actually own the songs you’re listening to, I’d recommend a service like Mp3million, where you can download songs for nickels and dimes. These kinds of sites are legal as long as they are paying royalties on the song licenses. And with that said, hopefully you’ll be on your way to continue your music downloading lifestyle without (too much) interruption.

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