Downloading Music: What's the Big Deal

Kids around the US are getting in big trouble with their parents and even the law for downloading music for free from the Internet. What's the big deal?! Keep reading to find out about what the law says about downloading music for 'free.'

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Free computer programs are helping or have helped kids and adults download music for free. Sounds great, right? Think again.

According to United States copyright laws, people who use these programs to download music for free are actually breaking the law! In recent years, the recording industry has begun cracking down on kids and adults who are abusing these computer programs. This article explains what copyright is, how it relates to online music downloading, what acts the government is now taking against violators of these laws, and how you can legally download music at home.

Copyright Law

Music copyright law was established to protect the rights of musicians and other entertainment professionals. The law states that no-one may reuse this music (or any copyrighted material) without permission from the material's owner. The exception to this is what is known as 'fair use.'

According to the fair use clause, you can use copyrighted material without the owner's permission for the following acts: news reporting, research, parody, and education about copyrighted work. However, when doing so you must give credit to the owner. For example, if a broadcast journalist used part of a song in a news report, they are required to name the artist who made the song but do not have to get the artist's permission to use it.

Many people believe that these copyright laws do not apply to the Internet and computer software that allows for easy copying. They are wrong! Music that is downloaded from another computer still falls under copyright law. Every time a person downloads a song without the artist's permission, they are breaking the law.

Why Illegal Downloading is Morally Wrong

The laws exist to protect professionals who make a their living from their creations. If everyone downloaded music for free, then your favorite music artists might not be able to afford the costs of recording these songs. Downloading music has also caused music stores across the country to close down since they have lost so much business. These means the thousands of people are losing their jobs because kids and adults are finding their favorite songs online instead of buying albums in the stores. Downloading is stealing. When you download music illegally, you take from someone else to give to yourself.

Downloading Music Legally

If you love music but don't have the money to buy every CD that interests you, there are some legal and cheap downloading options available to people online.

The following programs have now been deemed as legal:

  • Apple's iTunes
  • Napster
  • PressPlay
  • RealOne Music

All of these services are legal because they have made licensing agreements. Here is how these work:

Subscribers pay membership fees to download music. While you do end up spending money, it may turn out to be less than the cost of buying individual CDs, and definitely costs less than having to go to court and paying a fine for breaking the law.

Breaking copyright law is a serious issue and people across the country are paying for their illegal actions. The best way to prevent being involved in a lawsuit is to pay for the music you listen to instead of downloading it illegally!

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