It is very controversial if it is illegal or not to download music from the Internet. The law and license to use a phonogram (a CD track) is not clear for the masses, or nobody never explained it precisely.
Understand the Context
I met a professional musician once that was studying musical production in the university, and he outlined some aspects very clearly:
- The great recording companies provide a service for the society in this ways: finding talents, funding the production and recording of the phonogram, producing a nice CD booklet, advertising the product on TV, radio, magazines, outdoors and operating the physical distribution logistics of the CD, all of this for you to listen high technical quality music, and easy to find in a store near your home. So nothing is more fare for the recording companies to get their financial share.
- Because of this a recording company is, in general, the owner of the phonogram (a CD track), and not the musician or composer. That means that the company decides when, how much and how they will publish these songs (publish means to create CDs and put them in stores). The musician can’t take a phonogram on which he participated on the recording, put it on a media (CD, tape, DAT, long play, etc) and start selling it, unless he buys the rights over the phonogram, that are, in general, very expansive.
- The recording industry and companies are not defending the artists rights, but their own interests. In fact, many artists do not like that the recording companies say they are defending their rights.
- In all this commercial process, musicians share come from their authorship rights (which is small, according to some musicians I know), that comes from an independent institution, which in its turn comes from the recording company and other sources. This rule is not the same for big stars that have enough power (and agents) to negotiate better contracts with a recording company.
- The musician wants his art to be known and listened in the broadest way possible.
- Professional musicians earn more money making shows and live performances, and less in the process of selling recording company’s CDs that carry his creations.
- People will only pay for show tickets if the artist’s creation is good and well known.
- Many good artists don’t have market penetration, money or disposition to record CDs in a way that they will own the phonograms (the so called independent way). These are usually referenced as “alternatives”.
- Excellent musicians and beautiful phonograms can be unknown to the point it is considered not viable to give them space in a CD store shelf. Because of that it is difficult to find old recordings or the so called “alternatives” in stores: or people already changed their taste, or the number of people will buy is very small.
- I estimate the cost to mass produce one single CD — including the plastic, media, booklet and its artwork, authorship rights, some advertisement etc — in about US$2.
- I heard that the law prohibits the redistribution of phonograms (CD tracks) in a physical media (to burn a CD or tape and start selling or buying it).
- The Internet is not considered a physical media. So in this rationale, by law terms, it is not prohibited to use the Internet as a way to distribute music, at least for phonograms produced/recorded before the Internet era, which includes everything before around 1997. After that, phonograms started to be produced with a revised license (the law terms of what is permitted or not to do with it) that considered the Internet.
Whatever they say, to download music from the Internet takes time, comes without the booklet — which contains a lot of art and valueable information — and is controversial if it is illegal or not. On the other hand, artists and their full high-fidelity discographies have been seen in such a way that seems not rational not to download.
You should decide if you follow what the media says defending their rights — and not the artists’s —, or if you are going to give prestige to a musician and feel all its creative potential can make with your emotions.
How to Download
I opened this space for a friend to explain how to do it. This method uses the Bit Torrent technology and these are the steps to successfully use it:
- Download and install some Bit Torrent software as BitComet (only for Windows) or Azureus (Mac, Linux, Java, Windows). These software are free, safe, will not install spyware, virus, malware etc, and their use is completely legal.
- Use the www.isohunt.com website to find music by name, artist, etc. It can be used to find also other types of files. You can also search the Internet for other sites that provides “torrents”.
- Search, for example, for “Mozart” or “Bach“, etc. Click on these links to see a search result example.
- You will find complete collections and very large files, that takes sometimes days to download. The first results isohunt will show are the most active downloads, and because of that faster to download.
- Select the item you want, it will expand, and then click the link called “Download Torrent” to start the download.
- This will trigger the Bit Torrent software (BitComet of Azureus you downloaded above), that will ask you where you want to download. Choose a directory that you will remember later.
- Before selecting OK, you will see a list (huge if it is a complete collection) with the files included in the torrent, and you can select only the files you want, or everything.
- Monitor the download activity and guarantee you are downloading in a good speed. If it is constantly slow for a long time, it is usually better to cancel and search for another download.
- Even very fast downloads can take days to be fully retrieved if it is big.
- After the download finishes, if you use Linux, use Musicman to organize your retrieved files.
Be responsible and good luck.