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Finding MP3 Files Online - What Is Legal?

Aug 17, 2007
Very few people have not heard of "Napster", originating with a teenager's idea that basically changed how the Internet, the music industry, and how we as consumers think of online music. The words "intellectual property" has taken on a whole new meaning due to a young man's innovative ideas. Eighteen-year old Shawn Fanning, in 1999, wrote the code for the utility "Napster", the nickname for Shawn Fanning for his hair. The program combined three key functions into one: search engine dedicated to finding MP3 files only; file sharing to trade MP3 files directly; and the Internet Relay chat (IRC) as a way to find and chat with other MP3 users while they were online. When he downloaded the original beta version to download.com, it immediately became one of the hottest downloads on the site.

MP3 files in Napster were stored on each user's machine, instead of on one big central computer. This new process was called "peer-to-peer sharing", or P2P. Each song that was downloaded from someone else's machine, which could be located anywhere in the world. The main requirement was for the utility Napster to be required on each machine for the transfer (or file sharing) to work. These songs that were downloaded as MP3 song files into each PC computer for listening, could then be transferred to MP3 players, such as the iPods or the Zen Micros, to listen to.

The ability to download free music online, instead of purchasing a CD, made this program very popular. But the music industry nor the music artists, or even the song writers, were able to get paid for their music. Thousands of copies of copyrighted songs were downloaded for free, upsetting the music industry. Napster became banned from about 40% of US colleges and universities when it was illegal, with college students being its biggest users. Several reasons were for this: college students really like technology, more than most; and also the colleges and universities make available to the college students high-speed Internet access. The website MP3.com was sued by record companies because they did not have copyrighted materials available for the students to download online, even though they were paying royalties on everything sold.

The Napster lawsuit attracted the attention of everyone, regardless which side a person was one. The thing to remember is that once someone has purchased or will purchase their MP3 player, it is important to play legally by the rules. Listed on the Internet are some song rules for legally downloading song files:
1. In the public domain
2. Uploaded by artists who are trying to get exposure
3. Released by record companies, trying to build interest in a CD
4. Paid for the right to download, with the site paying the artist or record company the royalties.

The media companies successfully destroyed the original Napster in 2002, yet it's service was co-opted by AOL, Yahoo, and Microsoft. Their instant-messenger products have allowed people to swap music files, photo files, etc., with their friends. Also, Sony distributes some of its music through ScourExchange.

Here are a few legal services that charge reasonable amounts and are respectable names:

1. AOL Music Now- America On Line is a major name in the internet world and boast over 1.5 million songs in their database for members to use. You can try AOL's service on a free trial then download per song for $0.99.
2. F.Y.E. - A leader in downloadable music, F.Y.E. provides 1.2 million songs to choose from for a flat $1 per download after a free trial period.
3. MSN Music- Another leading name in the internet and the name in computers, Microsoft offers one million songs that are available for $0.99 per download. MSN does not offer a free trial period.
4. MusicMatch- The MusicMatch software will make personal recommendations for you and charge $0.99 per download for the music of your choice. MusicMatch does not offer a free trial period.
5. Napster- The name that started it all is now one of the premier outlets for music downloads on a monthly membership fee basis. Napster offers downloads for $9.95 a month on up to three computers with around one million songs in their database. Napster offers a seven day free trial.
6. PassAlong- This is a relatively new site with a smaller database than most download services at around 400,000 songs, but offers a nice perk in exchange. When you make recommendations to your friends for certain types of music you get bonus points to reduce the price of future downloads. PassAlong starts at $0.99 per download and does not offer a free trial.
7. Wal-Mart- The name in bargain shopping offers the cheapest price for Plays for Sure compatible subscription services on the market. Offering the same 400,000 song capacity as PassAlong, Wal-Mart can offer the best prices because of their corporate structure. Wal-Mart does not offer a free trial.
About the Author
Check out http://www.mp3playertop.com/ for more articles on rio mp3 players and iriver mp3.
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